Susan Summerton MD is a radiologist who has seen her hobby of artwork grow into a business. Dr. Summerton is a general diagnostic radiologist who has always loved her work as a physician. She lives in Philadelphia and works both in Philadelphia and in Scranton in the Poconos.
Her journey to becoming a working artist began slowly. She recalls that when she was raising her children, she had a poster at home on which the entire alphabet was made from photographs of colorful butterfly wing patterns. At work, she started noticing the letters of the alphabet in some of the diagnostic images that she read. She thought it might be fun to collect all of the letters of the alphabet found on imaging studies and started to collect them.
After almost 20 years, she found that she had collected all of the letters of the alphabet and made her first piece as an entry to a contest for radiologists sponsored by the Radiologic society of North America on the occasion of their hundredth anniversary. The piece was entitled “LETTERS TO THE RSNA” and spelled out “RSNA 100, a century of transforming medicine”. Her entry didn’t win first place but did receive honorable mention, and as a result was displayed in Chicago at their annual meeting where over 50,000 attendants congregate from around the world.
After the meeting, friends and colleagues saw this first piece, they asked her to spell names of friends, colleagues and family members to give as gifts. She began to receive more requests, and decided to form an LLC called Xray Artistry. She attended Wharton School of Business’s Small Business Development City where she learned the basics of running a business. Soon after, she hired a web designer, a marketing specialist and a graphic designer to build a web site to feature her projects.
As her requests increased and the pieces became more popular, she wasn’t sure if she needed to get formal consent from patients to use their imaging studies. After consulting with the legal team at the hospital, she realized that, while it is a grey zone, she probably could not use patients’ images. Her solution was to recreate the images instead. She hired a graphic artist to draw the letters using photoshop.
She has been building a library of letters for different medical specialties. For orthopedics, for example, she has an entire alphabet created from images of bones, muscles and joint, while she uses images of the heart and blood vessels for her cardiovascular alphabet. With this personalized collection for each specialty, she is expanding to medical office art and interior design, often creating custom designs for medical centers and private offices.
Currently, Dr. Summerton has no plans of quitting radiology, but her art business is booming. She has a staff for graphic design, web design, marketing, and accounting. She goes to art shows and medical conferences to display her work and to network and share ideas with other artists.
To see more of Dr. Summerton’s work, you can visit her website http://xrayartistry.com/
Physician Success Stories