The topic of artistic creativity in technical communication inspired the winning artists in Technical Communication’s November 2020 cover competition.

Mykaela Chaffin (cover illustration)

Mykaela Chaffin is an undergraduate student at Eastern Kentucky University studying for a degree in English. While her focus is in literature, she is pursuing a certificate in technical writing and a minor in visual media. Technical writing and graphic design are interests of hers and she loves interacting with design software. Although she is still a novice in this field, she hopes to include these skills in her future endeavors. Mykaela aspires to work in book publishing in the future and this is a main reason why she gained an interest in technical writing and visual media. She currently works a part-time job and does freelance editing occasionally. She is available at

Mykaeela explains that on learning that the subject of the November 2020 issue was artistic creativity in technical communications, she  had no idea where to start on a submission for the cover competition:

The topic is understandably important in this field, but visually I struggled to connect the antonyms “artistic” and “technical.” I decided to search the internet for images, art, and icons related to technical communication to see what others had done with this subject. Few results actually combined artistry with the technical, but what I saw gave me enough inspiration to start playing around in Adobe Illustrator. The base theme that I wanted to portray was the combination of inorganic and organic images. The first design idea was a woman whose parts were made of icons and imagery related to technical communication. Her eyes were cogs, her eyebrows were pencils, her suit made of code, etc. When I finished, I realized the technical aspects outweighed the artistic. This idea did not work out how I wanted, but it did give me more inspiration to design what is now the cover. I took the computer circuit pattern from the hair of the woman and from that came up with the idea of a hand painting each circuit into place. This idea is much more satisfying to me since it stays with the organic/inorganic theme but also adds a classic idea of art with a classic idea of technical.

To make the illustration I used Adobe Illustrator and image-traced the hand, added color, then used the line and circle tools to draw, color, and shape each line of the circuit board.  I worked on and finished this design during quarantine, so time was on my side to play around with my ideas. It took me about three days of off and on work to finish the design. Overall, I’m happy with the outcome especially considering how new I am to Adobe software and design in general.

Jonathon Collins (honorable mention)

Jonathon Collins is a graduate assistant at Eastern Kentucky University, where he finished his undergraduate education earlier this year with a Bachelor of Arts in English. He is pursuing a Master of Arts in English Literature starting this semester and has a deep interest in 20th century American literature. He lives in Richmond, Kentucky, and plans on teaching at the university level after finishing school.

Jonathon explains the two-step process involved in creating his illustration:

The inspiration for this design came from the organic nature of ideation and creativity. The process consisted of first drawing a rough version in a sketchbook, and then darkening the lines with a black pen. A photograph of the drawing was then uploaded to Corel painter essentials, where I used a drawing tablet to clean up the lines and add color. All of this was in an effort to retain the organic feeling of a hand-drawn image.

To view the November 2020 issue, please visit .

And, as a reminder, the deadline for upcoming submissions to the cover competition is December 1.

For the February 2021 issue, we invite cover illustrations on the subject of communicating public health and safety in a crisis.

For the May 2021 issue, we invite cover illustrations on the subject of cultivating professional life in a virtual world.

Cover illustrations might be diagrams, drawings, photographs, collages, infographics, cartoons, comic strips, or brief graphic narratives.

For either issue, please submit your cover illustration (approximately 20×20 cm or 8×8 inches) as a high-resolution (300 dpi or better) jpg file by 1 December 2020 to with a brief explanation (100-200 words) of how your illustration addresses the cover subject. A five-member international jury of specialists will review the submissions and choose each issue’s cover illustration. Honorable mentions will be published inside the journal.

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