In this week’s Under the covers (Nature revealed) blog, which features weekly interviews with the art team at Nature, Art Director Kelly Krause explains the thinking behind this week’s creative front cover choice on microfluids.
Microfluidics exploits the properties of fluids trapped in submillimetre-scale spaces — the physics behind inkjet printing, DNA microarrays, lab-on-a-chip chemistry and much else — to useful practical effect. In the past decade microfluidic devices have shown considerable promise in diagnostics and primary research in the biological sciences.
In a Review this week, Eric Sackmann, Anna Fulton and David Beebe analyse the progress seen in lab-on-a-chip microtechnologies in recent years and discuss the clinical and research areas in which they have made — and may make — the greatest impact. Cover: Jasiek Krzysztofiak/Nature.
From the Art Desk:
Art Director, Kelly Krause, explains:
“When we decided to feature the microfluidics Review on the cover, the question facing us was: photography or illustration? There are some fascinating devices out there, so photography could have worked. We reached out to one of the authors, David Beebe, for image suggestions, and he pointed out that it might be more appropriate to do an illustration rather than showing one specific technology in a photograph.”
Beebe says: “Impact will likely come in many areas/fields of research or conversely there is unlikely to be a single ‘killer application’ . . . And we don’t want to convey a bunch of gee whiz cool widgets, rather that the field is moving now towards practical implementation and real impact.”
Beebe sent over a quick sketch of how we might take a more conceptual, illustrative approach below.
Krause: “We took Beebe’s advice and concentrated on doing an illustrated concept cover, to convey the idea of a field of science that is moving towards a more practical phase, with many solutions. I gave the brief to one of the designers in Nature’s art team, Jasiek Krzysztofiak, who came up with the brilliant idea of using a Swiss army knife as a metaphor.
“This final art shows a generic microfluid chip design, as the base of the ‘knife’ (in red), with the familiar tools of the Swiss army knife completing the visual. The blue wavy background is a clever nod to the presence of fluids.”