Illustration Archive

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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.

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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.

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    Roosje Klap and Mathias Schweizer have just finished work on a pretty extraordinary piece of digital collage for Dutch literary magazine De Gids – a publication that’s been in existence since 1837. The images on display propose rooms that reference literary voices of the past like Ovid and Baiga, compositing various erotic references into surrealist dreamscapes. The pair worked on them in tandem in the manner of an exquisite corpse – building on each other’s work in stages over time – only instead of strange little bodies as the final product, we’re met with what Roosje refers to as “graphic sex cadavre-exquis!”

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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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    I don’t go to Mr Porter to wistfully scroll through their accessories section like I used to, now I just visit them to go and meander through their journal – an online magazine put together by the team there that champions the important things in life: holidays, booze, sunglasses, cars and art amongst other things. Over the years the features in this section of Mr Porter’s webspace has become increasingly stylish, representing the brand’s core values using only the best editorial accompanied by staggeringly good commissioned illustration.

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    Bees are precious, you hear me?! But you don’t need met to tell you that, people have been wigging out about bees dying for years. Rather than pool their minds together and sort out a solution to keep bees safe, these creative types were asked by bee-loving initiative The Honey Club to just create special artwork to help raise money for the bees instead. Way better!

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    The silver screen has never been afraid of time travel, or venturing beyond the end of the world as we know it. In the 1960s, Chris Marker’s short film La Jetée transported us to an age following the Third World War in a devastated Paris of underground dwellers; in the 1980s it was the turn of The Terminator to journey back and forth in time; and more recently The Road terrified us with its post-apocalyptic tale.

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    Remember that moment when you stopped thinking of festivals as modern day Woodstocks and realised what they really were: enormous parties full of diseased people in Kigus in an arena of sponsorship deals? When you wake up in a shit tent with the side of your bedroom stuck to your disgusting face with only a warm Strongbow and a dead phone to look forward to for three days in a row, it becomes increasingly apparent that you are not in Woodstock, and Jimi Hendrix is not, and never was, going to play Star Spangled Banner for you today.

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    Since we spoke to Siggi Odds about his design and illustrations last year, his work has got even more vibrant. His patterns have become more playful, remaining influenced by traditional Native American work. Multi-coloured bodies tumble, cartwheel and crawl around a lady’s sari in his cover illustration for The Reykjavík Grapevine. Leaves fall around Siggi’s face in an autumnal self-portrait poster he made for a FÍT exhibition; asked to illustrate the word “Jæja” (“oh well”) for a series on the 30 most beautiful words in Icelandic, he did a picture of himself going “oh well.” Nice!

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    Remember comic books’ future king Ed Piskor’s Hip Hop Family Tree last year? We were pretty excited to learn that the deeply detailed history of hip hop was going to be published in comic book form by Fantagraphics, and news that the second volume is about to drop has us going as much as the first did. Volume #2 covers years 1981 to 1983, when RUN-DMC, NWA and the Beastie Boys are arriving on the scene, in the same faultlessly retro detail as #1 did.

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    There was a time when we at It’s Nice That were inundated with internet art – we were having so much submitted to us on a daily basis that it was pouring out of our ears in waxy gifs. It’s pleasing to be faced with it again, a year or two after the craze has kind of died out, when it’s created by someone who actually has a passion and an eye for this stuff and isn’t just jumping on a weird bandwagon.

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    Considering I love smoking, guitars, bright colours and farts, I’m pretty overwhelmed by how great this work by Spanish illustrator Puño is. In a recent exhibition entitled Miseria the multi-faceted artist stuck drawings and coloured squares all over the walls much to the delight of his seemingly really good-looking friends who came to see it. Work like this, made in the gaps between Puño’s rather professional editorial illustration, is just joyous isn’t it? You can almost imagine him grinning as he cut out the yellow butts and sticky-out legs from the pastel-coloured paper. Don’t even get me started on this GIF that he made. You can see some shots of the exhibition plus arty French babes over here

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    Edward Cushenberry actually wrote to me to show me a really interesting photography project he’s working on at the moment. Unfortunately that was about the millionth interesting photography project we had seen this week, but one thing we were a bit short on was brilliant, entertaining, lo-fi illustration we could relate to. Let’s give a warm welcome then to Edward’s comics in which he deals with traumatic or memorable experiences from his own memory, or borrowed from this friends. His drawings cover such life topics as How to Properly Bury A Turtle and that awkward moment when the girl you kissed says that making out with you was “like drinking a glass of water.” Classic. Edward’s got his fingers in a lot of creative pies, but I’d say these comics were our personal favourites.