Gail Guth and Britt Griswold - Special Projects Award 2018

Presented by President Linda Feltner

Gail Guth and Britt GriswoldSpecial Projects Award given jointly to Gail Guth and Britt Griswold for rebooting the Journal of Natural Science Illustration and for the GNSI website that made it possible.

GNSI has recognized these two on other occasions for the extraordinary amount of work each has given to the Guild over the decades. We wish here to particularly recognize one joint project these two took on which gives high benefits to all members all year long. Britt received the Distinguished Service Award in 1994, the first year it was awarded and in 2009 Britt received the Special Projects Award for Gail received the Distinguished Service Award in 2009.

When Gail became GNSI President in 2008, the Guild had a website presence and was publishing eight issues of a Newsletter and one issue of a Journal each year. The website, created in the early days of such sites, was mostly static and needed updates and improvements. And the Newsletters, although well-produced, included Chapter and member updates, had become heavily focused on "All Things Conference" with information about the upcoming conference or accolades about how great was the conference just passed—an event that the majority of members had not attended.

It became obvious to Gail that, on average, 15-20% of the membership attended conferences. So for the other 80-85%, with so much Newsletter focus on necessary conference information, there was limited value in the Newsletter, and that was the major perk that they received for their fees. 

At that almost pre-internet time, the newsletter was the primary source for conference information for good turnout at conferences was critical to the financial well-being of the Guild.  The need was to generate meaningful content, and continue to provide important information and experience of the conference to all the members. Members and the Board identified the problems, yet someone was needed with both vision and determination to be the agent of change. Gail Guth stepped into the position of President and rose to the challenge and enlisted the right people to help make it possible.

When Gail joined the Guild in 1976, she had no formal training in scientific illustration, just a desire to go down that odd road that no one she knew had ever heard of. Lucky was the day that someone suggested the Guild to her. Her membership provided Newsletters every month that were full of substantive articles about technique. Gail could not afford to go to conferences at that time, but the Newsletters gave her the education and information she needed. This meant that she particularly felt the loss of these kinds of articles as she watched the Newsletter change. So as President, she felt motivated to bring the Guild forward and see a publication that was once again a major benefit to all members.

As newly elected President, Gail approached Britt Griswold, her Vice-President, because he had created the annual GNSI Journal in the late 1980s to provide high-quality articles of the sort Gail now envisioned. Britt agreed with Gail. Together they wanted to provide meaty publication content and also find a way to provide timely information about the Guild and related events. Their entire Board agreed, so Gail and Britt tackled the problem together.

The first step was to upgrade the website to a more dynamic resource. Britt accomplished this in 2010, finding web developer Ron Williams to provide Hosting and Coding services. 

Next was the change to a more substantial Journal in 2012, which would now be published with a regular schedule. Their goal was to publish no time-dated material, except for a limited amount of conference promotion and a conference review. They gradually developed the current Journal format, as well as the schedule. The conference schedule material in the Journal occurs in one issue per year, in a pull-out section graphically distinct from the Journal itself. 

Gail and Britt accomplished these successful undertakings with the help of goodpeople. Yet without their leadership and determination and hard work, the web site and the Journal and other communication sources would not have evolved to what they are today. Gail and Britt have certainly achieved their goals of producing a high-quality Journal that is a benefit to all members and of also of delivering time-dated information through the website and email Newsletters. Gail and Britt continue to contribute as core editorial staff of the Journal and have helped set a high standard that serves as inspiration as we enter the next fifty years of Guild change and growth.