Illustration Archive

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    The London-based French illustrator Malika Favre has had another big year, adding even more breadth to her already impressive portfolio of work. In the summer she was invited to Tenerife by a Spanish design collective called 28ymedio to take part in its Illustrated Journey project, which aims to “help fight the economic crisis in Spain by promoting the Canary Islands and bringing a new stream of tourism.”

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    You can do a lot in a year, I’m told, and proof if any was needed comes in the form of Cynthia Kittler. Just last year we listed her as one of our Students of the Month for her “kind, quiet illustration,” and checking by her website again this year I found that not only is she no longer a student, but she’s being regularly commissioned by the likes of The New York Times and Die Zeit magazine for editorial illustration which is not only as quiet and kind as it was last time we checked in, but also incredibly resonant now.

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    In Dayoung Cho’s illustrated world, it’s the Goblin Olympics and the bunny’s on top. Tumbling top-to-tail with the tiger, it’s cheered on by an amorphous cyclops whilst a duck-billed platypus and rhino await their turn in the ring.

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    We love Thomas Slater. We love how he manages to dollop a fat helping of fun to subjects from art school to financial advice, how he so accurately distils the defining characteristics of his subjects in one fell swoop, and how his work offers a universal joy which makes him appealing for near on every audience imaginable.

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    One of my teachers had a pet hate of adverbs and adjectives. “Cut the fluff!” he’d yell after reading our essays. Emi Ueoka’s delicate drawings illustrate his point perfectly; why use more lines when a few create so perfect a picture?

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    When it came to designing the second billboard for our ongoing partnership with London Graphic Centre, Jack Hudson seemed the obvious choice. Ever since we came across his work four years ago and swiftly swept him up into our Graduates class of 2010, we’ve watched with awe as Jack’s career has gone from strength to strength. He has a supreme ability to make communicative images still steeped in charm and personality, and so we knew he would rise to the challenge of our broad “back to school brief.”

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    It’s all well and good making art and illustration that focuses in on humdrum observations of our meagre existences, but wouldn’t you rather have a whole bunch of images that dip their toes in the sci-fi pool of chance and dance through the stars on pronged, mythical wildflowers? I know I would, which is why I’m particularly pleased with stumbling across the work of Singeon, a French illustrator whose horny, mythological drawings and paintings are like an ever-changing ecosystem, ranging from small watercolour doodles of food (standard) to double-headed medieval babes in outer space (not so standard). He’s part of team Flickr, so if you like what you see here I urge you to go and check out even more of his work over here on his page.

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    Switzerland-based artist Pascale Keung makes delightfully diverse work which is inspired by her chosen country’s stunning natural landscape as often as it is by wild fantasies. This series Muttsee is an example of the former, a collection of images about “a very special place in the Alps of Switzerland” where she goes to fish with her friends from time to time.

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    The artist known as José Ja Ja Ja not only creates damnedly detailed drawings and works as Professor of Illustration at the European Design School in Madrid; he also brews beer. Unfortunately, as I have yet to sample SALVAJE, I’ll have to laud the brilliance of his illustrations instead.

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    If you’re concerned that your bookshelf is starting to look bit run-of-the-mill then allow us to present you with a new publication to blow the others out of the water. Eventually Everything Connects is a new publication by Loris Lora, published by Nobrow, illustrating the largely unknown but absolutely fascinating commonalities which joined many of the architects, designers, filmmakers and photographers working in southern California in the Modernist era.

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    I’m all for embracing new modes of experiencing literature, but when choosing to read novels on an iPad or tablet requires that you select a dull digital alternative cover – one with a hunk of Helvetica slapped thoughtlessly over a low-res image, or similar – I can’t help by find myself reaching for a paperback. Fortunately publishers like Frenchies Les Livres Mouvants are a step ahead of their game, commissioning beautiful books covers for their digital reads which will even out the playing field.

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    Say welcome, one and all, to Noam Weiner. This Israeli illustrator’s recently ramped up her editorial work, illustrating for several national newspapers and magazines, often with a political or satirical bite. In an illustration for an article on criticism, she cleverly combines a deal with the devil with a hearty dose of mutual back-scratching to make a point about the tangled relationships up the tower of power. We prefer her work at its most minimalistic, when she conveys maximum meaning. Of her older work, the simplicity of her comics version of the classic kids’ adventure book Hasamba is captivating.

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    The work of Brian Edward Miller is a cross between the digital and the retro: his sketches could easily be found in the satchel of a 1950s art student, but when put into the computer and twiddled with they look just as at home in a high-tech animation for a company like Adobe. “My goal is to provide quality illustration and storytelling with the professional hard working ideals my family modelled to me and to chase down that elusive vintage aesthetic which played such a powerful role in my childhood,” Brian states on his site. Judging by the list of people who have commissioned this guy of late, it seems like we’re not the only ones to find his work impossible to look away from.

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    I don’t think it’d be an exaggeration to claim that we were bowled over when Toni Halonen dropped a bunch of new work made in a radically different direction earlier on this year. What’s more, being the dutiful deliverers of all things exciting in the art and design world it only seemed fair to let you know that he’s made even more in the aforementioned bright, blocky aesthetic since then, and it’s still top notch. Alongside commissions for Bloomberg Businessweek and Trendi Magazine Toni has also been working on a huge A-Z project for commissioning kings KENZO Defying the tried and tested solutions to such a brief, however, he’s put together a series of offbeat and brilliantly weird images, from cuddly punks and stair-sets to a sideways wheelie in a red sports car. Toni, we’re really into what you’re doing. Can we be friends yet?

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    Blastto is the pseudonym of London-based Spanish illustrator Carlos Llorente, a 33-year-old designer and illustrator originally from Guadalajara. His portfolio is packed full of surreal illustration and graphic design for predominantly editorial clients, but there’s also animation and app UX thrown in for good measure. Blastto’s work is defined by its bold colour palettes, whimsical subject matter and aesthetic diversity – his images range from solid digital linework to textured geometric forms; sleek 3D renders to experimental type design. All of it is imbued with a sense of experimentation and fun; and when you’re creating illustrations about the rigours of a daily routine, a sense of fun is pretty essential.

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    Eike König and his HORT studio are celebrating 20 years of genre-blurring graphic design work with a show at London’s KK Outlet at the moment, and we felt this was a milestone well worth marking. So we’re excited and delighted to unveil three specially-commissioned t-shirts on which we have worked with Eike’s brilliant team.

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    Tokyo-based illustrator Hisashi Okawa is a veritable model of wide-eyed joy that we should all aspire to replicate. His charismatic illustration, rendered in painstakingly-applied felt tip and finished with his trademark Opie-esque dot eyes, is succinct and charming, securing him commissions from the likes of Bayerische Straatsballett, the Debrief, and Apartamento. Just see if you can scroll through his admirable portfolio without being drawn into the alternative universe he has constructed, full of artfully recreated street style shots, fantasy landscapes and sartorially sharp dogs.

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    Rachel Levit’s understated illustration lends itself perfectly to ending the week; it’s understated, oddly enamouring and full of the kind of humour which carefully treads the tightrope between sweet and sinister. The Brooklyn-based artist has perfected the simple line drawing, conjuring up figures with the vaguest impression of an outline. Don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s all she can do though; she’s just as happy creating fully fledged editorial illustration for The New Yorker website, communicating obscure and complicated ideas through the careful placement of an object or a witty observation.

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    If I were to draw my own picture of Thomas Colligan (having never met the talented chap) I’d attach a little funnel to his back, because the man is a veritable illustration engine, churning out heaps of great work just this year. This impression also owes something to the plethora of cars and factories and engines puffing out plumes of smoke in the busy worlds of his illustrations, where a population of Flat Stanley-like characters tootle about. Alternating between gouache and coloured pencils, Thomas creates scenes with grass as green as the Swiss hillsides he hails from, and balaclava-clad bank robbers as gutsy as those in the movies set in his new home of New York.

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    Using block pastel colours and precise pen outlines, Alessandro Apai is part of what seems to be a new trend emerging in illustration. His work is simple and funny, taking what could be perfectly normal everyday interactions and making them just that little bit odd and infinitely more interesting. Featuring a character who looks like a modern day, grown-up version of Hergé’s Tintin and some dark-haired playmates, his drawings show potential to tell even more quirky and fully developed stories. Italian Alessandro’s still a student, so we hope for great things in the future!

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    It isn’t often that we have a centenarian on the site, so today there’s double cause for celebration because not only is designer Mac Conner 100 years old, he’s also a ruddy legend. Mac spent the 1950s living and working in New York as one of the real-life Mad Men, illustrating for The Saturday Evening Post, Cosmopolitan and Good Housekeeping.

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    If you’re finding that your Monday is lacking in mystery (don’t they always?) allow me to introduce you to Nicholas Stevenson, an illustrator who practically daubs it onto his pages as he draws. Preferred subjects include long-armed humans, giant beasts, secret trapdoors and food fights, all of which are endowed with an equal measure of fantasy the likes of which doesn’t often exist beyond the pages of children’s books and the odd Wicca community.

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    If she’d been drawing back when I was consuming children’s books so fast that my parents ran out of printed matter and had to give me an Argos catalogue instead, one of Mari Kanstad Johnsen’s numerous children’s books would undoubtedly have been in my top ten. In fact, she might still be on that esteemed list given that my chosen career path allows me to spend an inordinate amount of time flicking through books intended for kids. It doesn’t even matter that I don’t speak Swedish.

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    Daniel Gray is an illustrator, but a past manifestation of himself wore a white coat and a stethoscope. He says he dropped out of Medical Science “when he realised illustration had a much lower patient mortality rate.” Looking at his portfolio though, I’d say he’s a guy drawn to tricky jobs.

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    Cosmic brilliance here from Jesse Fillingham, whose fantastical work is sending shivers all over me this morning. His confident line images seem to draw inspiration from teen sci-fi novels, video games, Shakespeare and the work of Roger Dean, bringing it all together to form a heady combination of past and future. Jesse graduated back in 2010 from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena and has since been exhibiting his work across American and Europe to what I can only imagine are die-hard fans. If you find yourself lost in the bizarre nature of his Kate Bush digital image or the transient surreality of Cosmic Contemplation 2, take your eyeballs for a gander at his simple line drawings. Extract / Sunset / Pointer is insanely well-drawn and I can’t stop looking at it. One for the “favourites” folder I think.

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    Looking at Pawel Mildner’s illustrations is like going on a little adventure. A really fun one. Your imagination is invited into lunar landscapes where grumpy flowers scowl at astronauts and wild woods where bearded Norsemen hunt for pesky rabbits which hop away gleefully. There’s a sense of wonder in the drawings; in one a giant dove gawps at a big yellow sphere which could be an oversize bowling ball or the moon or a previously undiscovered planet and in another a whale springs out of the sea. Some of Pawel’s work is editorial, but he’s also illustrated and written a children’s book, Ciekawe, co myśli o tym królowa, or “Wonder what the queen thinks about it” in case your Polish is a bit rusty.

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    We’d hate to say we told you so, but in the case of London-based illustrator Daniel Clarke, we definitely did. In January 2012 we crowned him our Student of the Month, and two years on he’s still going strong – actually he’s going even stronger. We were always drawn to Dan’s work for its stunning use of texture in the creation of atmospheric scenes; the smudge of ink on paper denoting a bitterly grim London day, or variations in pattern serving as an allegory for tower blocks.

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    Here at It’s Nice That we spend an awful lot of time talking about, thinking about and writing about creatives but ultimately we don’t get too many chances to really see what goes on in their day-to-day working lives…until now. Our new collaboration with super-cool eyewear brand Ace & Tate – who believe in great design and ultimate customer choice – is taking us inside the studios, and inside the minds, of a host of some of our favourite creatives.

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    Let’s get this straight – no one uses colour pencils like Yann Kebbi. His rushing waves of familiar greens and reds depict street scenes filled with fumes, scowls, ageing pedestrians and whooshing movement – always with a dry happiness and a side order of mystery. Recently Yann’s wry depictions of human life have been featured in The New York Times and other prestigious rags, but some of his most interesting work lies in the personal sketches he whacks up on his blog for people like me to dribble at. The seemingly slapdash paintings of his family and the Hockney-esque sketches of the French countryside are exquisite, and proof that Yann has got so many more styles to try out yet before he perfects his repertoire.

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    Kristina Tzekova is an excellent testament to the belief that there’s no limit to what you can do with a packet of coloured pencils and a sheet of white paper. The illustrator recreates scenes from music videos and cult films in comic strip form, from Kanye West’s Bound 2 to Jim Jarmusch’s Mystery Train, and the results are the perfect cross between lo-fi doodles in the margin of a maths exercise book and Eadweard Muybridge’s pioneering photographic studies of motion. Simple though they may seem, her drawings are incredibly intricate, taking into account the continuity between each image just as scrupulously as they do the the details which easily have been missed, from the cheeky glint in an eye to the quirk of a top lip. Here’s hoping somebody picks up on Kristina’s work and makes them into a book sharpish!

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    Here at It’s Nice That we spend an awful lot of time talking about, thinking about and writing about creatives but ultimately we don’t get too many chances to really see what goes on in their day-to-day working lives…until now. Our new collaboration with super-cool eyewear brand Ace & Tate – who believe in great design and ultimate customer choice – is taking us inside the studios, and inside the minds, of a host of some of our favourite creatives.

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    Three cheers to Portuguese illustrator Marta Monteiro for executing what I would have believed to be an entirely impossible feat; creating a series about tiny, lilliputian women living in a giant world without it being even the slightest bit cutesy. Her miniature characters are practically heroines; tying up villains with cotton from a giant reel, transporting a slice of pizza on their shoulders and playing tug of war with spaghetti, and all in the style which has won Marta commissions from some of the great champions of illustration out there, including the New York Times and NoBrow. This series has even been awarded a gold medal by the Society of Illustrators in the category of commissioned work, so if you don’t take our word for how brilliant it is, take theirs! here’s hoping for dreams of Borrowers for nights to come.

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    They don’t come much sharper than Sara Andreasson, the Swedish illustrator who was on the site back in March but who has posted so much new work on her website that we see fit to feature her again already. The Swede has been hard at work, creating commissions for The Debrief, New York Times Magazine and Rolling Stone, toying with witty observations and reassuring block colour to demonstrate that she’s just as nimble whipping up images to suit a brief as she is with personal work. Her experiments with rasterisation and contrasting patterns are especially intriguing, hinting at a whole new technique which is ripe for exploration (and more of which can be seen of on her Tumblr.)

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    Julianna Brion is an editorial illustrator whose diverse portfolio houses projects for a bunch of fortunate clients. Like most creatives who make commissioned work though, when she’s not drawing to a brief she’s filling sketchbook after sketchbook with scrapbook-like doodles which are as beautiful, if not more so, than her finished images. Reclining figures, pastel dogs, picture-perfect houses and foliage all feature, rendered in a rainbow of acrylic paints and sketchy pencil. For me, looking at the sketchbook of a successful illustrator is kind of like peeping into the messy bedroom of an impossibly well-coiffed, super dapper gent. And who doesn’t like to be nosy?

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    Trust Helsinki-based illustration agency Agent Pekka to sign up some of the best illustration we’ve seen in a long while without so much as a cough to show it off! They’ve just added French illustrator Jean-Michel Tixier to their books, and he looks set to be an amazing addition.

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    When it comes to brightly-coloured multimedia creations Mike Perry is king, and as far as we’re concerned there’s little chance of anybody threatening to knock him off his throne any time soon. As if to strengthen his case, he’s just made My Mother Caught Me Doodling, a 160 page hardback celebration of the female form, which sees Mike create tribute after tribute to ladies. Naked ladies.

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    Considering it had been a while since I had had a proper delve through this great guy’s portfolio, revisiting his site was a refreshing reminder of just how talented Gwendal Le Bec really is. Sometimes people can be frowned upon for aping or mimicking a style from someone else but in Gwendal’s case it’s different as he successfully takes elements from all the most infamous illustrators of times gone by and adds them to his own style.

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    We’ve been harping on about what a terrific illustrator, and all-round cheery chap Ryan Gillett is for quite some time now, and it seems people have been taking notice. Ryan now counts the likes of Virgin, The Sunday Times, Anorak and Smith Journal among his many clients, who keep him busy at all hours on commissioned projects. It’s not hard to see why either; Ryan’s cheerful scenes made with the sensibilities of a traditional print-maker ought to excite even the most severe clients. But he still finds time to do the nice things that remind us what a stand-up guy he is; like producing screen printed postcards to send out to all his fans (including us). When they arrived the other week they brightened up our days, and also made us realise it was about time to praise Ryan once again…

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    Thank God for Laura Callaghan! In an illustrated world saturated with images of pretty girls sweetly baking cupcakes, making daisy crowns and chasing after boys, she injects a much-needed dose of the sinister femme fatale. Her characters have undercuts and piercings instead of being clad head to toe in lace, they read lesbian magazines instead of Vogue and they wear vials of their lovers’ blood round their necks. What more could you want from a role model?

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    Sergio’s back, and he’s as good as ever. With new tour posters for the likes of Mac DeMarco and Future Islands and a bundle of personal work, we decided to whack him and his pointy-nosed people up on the site once again. Retro and somehow futuristic at the same time, his prints steer clear of twee although smiley, bouncy-haired characters abound. Their massive forearms and John Lennon glasses say “I’m clever and I work hard” in a way reminiscent of early communist posters, mixed with a touch of The New Yorker; what a brilliant combination. I love Summer, a print of a sunbather on a beach gazing into a snow globe. It might not have occurred to Spanish Sergio, but to me this seems like a brilliantly British reaction to too much sun.