Artist corners a niche market illustrating cutting-edge research papers化学博士“不务正业”搞绘画,中国风绘图频频登上科学杂志封面



Science is always seen as hard-core and hard to understand. But could you imagine hundreds of people being captivated (迷住) by the cover of a science magazine? The achievement was completed after Wang Yixi and his team made the cover of an October issue of Structure, a US-based Cell Press journal.


The cover shows a Chinese ink painting of a farmer leading an ox (牛) across a bridge, followed by a boy with a bamboo basket on his back. In addition to the jelly fish (水母) and lotus flowers (莲花) in the river under the bridge, chemical compounds (化合物) and elemental structures were highlighted and weaved (编织) into the picture.


It vividly depicts the process in which a special enzyme (酶) involved in the biosynthesis (生物合成) of an important organic compound is activated ‑ the latest breakthrough by a Chinese scientific research team.


The drawing was one of many works by Wang and his team. Over the past four years, they have come up with more than 10,000 visual works for academic papers across a variety of fields.


While studying chemistry at university, Wang said that he often came across an experimental preparation process that he had to explain, but the amount of text was too large and abstract (抽象的). That’s why he later ran Xixizhiyan company to turn graphics into fine art.

王先生说,在大学学化学时,他经常遇到需要解释的实验准备过程,但文字量太大且抽象。 这就是他后来选择经营西西智研公司的原因,将图表转化为美术。

“What we do is to visualize (将......可视化) abstract concepts and help scientific researchers demonstrate their findings in a straightforward and distinctive way,” said Wang, now in his 30s.


Wang said that many science journals have allowed, and even encouraged, paper authors to come up with such illustrations. The rapidly rising number of Chinese scientific papers has resulted in increased demand from Chinese scientists who want illustrations for their work to carry distinctive Chinese elements.


“The most popular cultural elements include tai chi and peony flowers (牡丹花), as well as the Monkey King and other figures from classic Chinese literature works,” Wang said.


Since many Western editors or paper reviewers might not be familiar with some Chinese elements, Wang recommends that his clients (客户) submit certain introductory words explaining the drawings, such as how they are associated with the science.


“It’s fulfilling (令人有成就感的) whenever we produce a special piece of work that combines cutting-edge scientific findings and traditional Chinese culture that meets the expectations of the client,” Wang said.





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