Illustration Archive

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    Josh Cochran is one of those illustrators who, even though he’s been around for ages, still manages to keep his work endlessly fresh. His fantastically atmospheric, often surreal illustrations, keep going from strength to strength, building in textural complexity and narrative devices. Perhaps that’s the result of his nomadic lifestyle moving between Taiwan, Los Angeles and New York. Or perhaps he’s just got an endlessly inventive mind and creative spirit. Either way, he’s a talented dude.

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    A cute little one-eyed book reading a cute little two-eyed book greets us on the site of designer and illustrator Julia Boehme, offering an irresistible invitation to delve into her portfolio, which perhaps unsurprisingly, leans toward all things bookish. The wee anthropomorphised tomes also star alongside pretty girls reading books in some great work for Hungarian University of Fine Arts, for which she’s produced a small brochure explaining the four arts libraries in Budapest. Cuteness is very much the order of the day throughout her work, but she manages to stay just the right side of sickly. We love the simple, tongue-in-cheek Wes Anderson aesthetic of the Year Book project from 2011, which acts as another excuse for us to post some ludicrous, large-specs-based portrait photography.

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    Art and music go together like warm Yorkshire puddings and gravy, everyone knows that! But it’s even more delicious when the artist and musician love each other so much that they collaborate again, and again, and again. Such is the nature of Norwegian duo DJ Todd Terje and artist Bendik Kaltenborn. Bendik’s been cracking out spectacular designs, posters, comics and illustrations for years and has spent his time of late designing album artwork for the wonderful Todd. Now I’m not saying no one would listen to Todd’s music without such appealing album artwork (if you’ve ever seen him live, you get the feeling that a lot of people love his music a LOT) but with sleeve artwork as good as this, how can people not buy it? Here’s to two good friends who are making a living by feeding off each other’s talent (Todd recently made special songs to accompany Bendik’s book!) and long may they continue.

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    One of the best things about working here at It’s Nice That is when one of our colleagues tips us off to a creative superstar we hadn’t previously heard of. It was yesterday that our art director Jamie McIntyre casually dropped the name 44flavours into conversation and when I got round to checking out their work today it’s fair to say my flabber was ghasted.

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    There’s an endearingly open, experimental feel to the work of Barcelona-based illustrator and designer Joan Casaramona. Across his online platforms he’s more than willing to share every step of his process, showing sketchbooks filled with his dabblings in paint, collage, print and animation, offering a charming insight into his strange and multifarious inspirations. We were especially drawn to his works looking at wee Napoleon, rendered at times as a rather hirsute figure; at others like a little devil. For us his work is most effective when in primary colours that remind us of Fredun Shapur’s little characters, but one monochrome work really stood out – the great little GIF below where a woman joyfully strips off, baring all before taking her little black dress and wrapping herself up in it to form a tiny black ball.

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    There were poignant scenes in Berlin yesterday when the city marked the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the wide-ranging ramifications it had for the city, the country and indeed the world. Unsurprisingly such an historic milestone inspired various creative projects, from the terrific 8,000 balloon installation which ran the length of the old wall to Airbnb’s animation about reunification and remembering.

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    The good people at ZEIT Magazin have an unerring eye for talent and so it’s always worthwhile flicking through to see who they’ve commissioned in any given issue. In the recent design special we came across this eye-catching work from Bruges-based illustrator Pieter Van Eenoge. It reminded us a little of Brecht Vandenbroucke, but Pieter has his own strong style – there’s a weirdness and an ability to suggest mayhem on both big and small scales which is really pleasing. Those giant pink bunny heads are almost certainly going to haunt my dreams for a few weeks though.

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    With its bright colours, bold lines and burger analogies, it seems bizarre that we’ve never featured the work of brilliant Breda-based design studio Hedof on the site before. The studio is really just one man, Rick Berkelmans, whose single-minded design aesthetic is deliciously versatile, working as well on editorial pieces as large-scale murals, clothing brands and posters.

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    The musically named Lili des Bellons (say it aloud) has an impressive roster of styles in her portfolio which also includes film and 3D animation – she’s a girl with fingers in pies – but it’s her illustrations of buildings and bird’s eye views over urban cityscapes that have caught our attention. Dotted with tiny speckles of pixellated colour, they’re oddly reminiscent of the pictures you’d make with coloured sand as a kid, although dramatically better and rather less messy. Soothing and atmospheric, the Paris-based creative’s work succeeds in tapping into a surreal alternative universe that’s not so far from our own, and yet which could be from another planet entirely.

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    Jack Cunningham is a young illustrator and animator living in London, and he’s got life pretty well sorted out. By day he works at Nexus, creating GIFs and animations and cute characters in a building crammed full of weird, wonderful people all doing similar things. When I last dropped in to see him he had a book on his desk by a guy called Guy Billout which he had been waiting for with bated breath for a long while. I had never come across Guy’s work, but I’m now as obsessed with him as Jack was/is.

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    Tieten met Haar is Valentine Gallardo, Alexander Robyn, Nina Van Denbempt, Mathilde Vangheluwe and Jana Vasiljević. The name roughly translates as “tits with hair” and their goal is “to create a platform for other upcoming artists, to present and publish their work as well as our own, and promote it, in Belgium as well as at different European comics and illustration festivals.”

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    It’s been well over a year since we last featured Aron Vellekoop León’s work, and boy has the Spanish graphic designer and illustrator been busy since. Still using his traditional printed aesthetic, his new work is full of lovely grainy textures and dusky tones that use shapes and layering in a great way.

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    Maybe it’s because he’s always coming over for beers, catching up with us on the phone when we realise we miss each other, or just generally being a most excellent pal, but we sometimes forget to update you with what Ed Monaghan’s up to – I guess we just assume that you know already. But it’s been nearly a year since we last tooted his trumpet and waxed lyrical about his work, and in that time he’s got himself an agent, produced a bunch of excellent commercial projects and started work on some ambitious bits of personal work that we’re holding our breath for (rumour has it they’ll be arriving early next year). Anyway, here’s a few tidbits from the last few months for you to feast your eyes on, and marvel some more at his psychedelic prowess.

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    As it’s Halloween, it’s a good time to remember the true masters of horror. One that immediately springs to mind is of course scarer extraordinare Stephen King, with his hair-raising ability to reduce many of us to quivering wrecks through menacing characters and devilish plot twists.

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    It’s rare that we have cause to feature a single illustration project on the site, but Scott Gelber’s recent work for The New York Times is quite an unusual case. The Texas-based digital artist seriously impressed us this week with his illustration for an editorial that questioned whether or not video games could be considered art. It’s an issue that’s cropping up increasingly online, and one which undoubtedly requires a careful touch to illustrate. Scott’s solution camouflaged various computer game characters within famous paintings – the one that was finally used is, I believe, a character from Assassin’s Creed – compositing sketches of numerous high-profile characters in works like the Mona Lisa, Judith Slaying Holofernes and Manet’s Le Déjeuner sur l’Herbe. Pretty impressive work for a guy who usually specialises in GIFs. More of this please Scott.

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    Tim Laing’s work is quintessentially English; moody and faintly depressing, created with shades of grey that aptly summarise the perpetual state of our weather, food and temperaments. Which is why he’s the perfect choice to illustrate John Le Carré’s back catalogue for the prestigious Folio Society. The images he’s created to accompany classic works of spy fiction like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and The Honourable Schoolboy are beautifully atmospheric, imbued with the tension of Cold War espionage and an imminent sense of danger. He’s also careful never to show any faces, meaning you’re still allowed to let your imagination run riot, inventing your own terrifying visage for the double agent waiting to put a bullet in you. Thrilling stuff!

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    There’s a very simple kind of pleasure to be had from illustrator Liam Stevens’ work. The image-maker and designer occupies himself predominantly with line-work and geometric shapes, creating vast landscapes and atmospheric compositions from very little. Collage elements enter into his practice from time to time, but on the whole his sketches function using a simple cross-hatch which gestures vaguely towards a form, or a series of wiggly lines used to demarcate a sprawling horizon. Finding Liam’s work online allows it to function in much the same way a breath of fresh air does in a loud, smoggy city. Breathe deep and enjoy the view.

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    What do I love most about the work of Irkus M Zeberio? Oh, thanks for asking. I think it’s probably the sheer irreverence present in each piece of ink on paper. The Basque Country-based illustrator has an extraordinary knack for creating bewitchingly chaotic scenes that demonstrate the most base human desires, combined with an energetic, frenetic drawing style that keeps my eyes flicking rapidly across pages of his work. In terms of narrative, Irkus predominantly creates comics and images that maintain the sensibilities of a sci-fi-obsessed teenage boy with a burgeoning porn collection; there’s vicious she-beasts devouring the heads of their lovers, nudism in space, penis sketches hidden in random places and an abundance of curvaceous bottoms – the kind of stuff that would seem trivial if it wasn’t supported by some wickedly funny story lines. How we’ve not featured him before I’ll never know.

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    Hotel branding can so often be a dowdy affair, as if the design nods to the temporary nature of the building’s inhabitants – something to move on from, rather than to dwell on. So it’s wonderful to see a brave, opulent new identity for the Connaught in London’s Mayfair, designed by The Partners around a stunning new artwork by Kristjana S Williams which now hangs in the hotel.

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    June 2013: We introduce you to illustrator and recent Berlin resident Jay Wright. We love his work, you enjoy it massively too, and thereafter he takes on a whole heap of freelance work. Fast forward 16 months and Jay’s new portfolio website shows he’s been one heck of a busy guy, not only commercially but personally too. Alongside magazine covers for The Loop and Das Magazine there’s a glut of witty spot illustrations, brand new zines and some lovely personal work that explores the theme of superstition. It’s definitely worth having a proper rummage around on his site, and when you do be sure to have a look at the ladder. You won’t regret it.

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    Michael Parkin’s portfolio is a wonderful mix of commissioned work interspersed with personal projects, which is exactly what you want when looking through a creative’s website. His style is simple but well observed and whether he’s creating a poster for Little White Lies or a series of prints relating to a trip to Denmark, Michael’s work is wonderful at telling a story.

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    I love that moment when big brands start to recognise the immense talents of illustrators who had previously been making work primarily for themselves, and duly commission them to do exactly what they do best. Linda Linko is a prime example; since being signed to Agent Pekka the Finnish illustrator has been gathering speed as well as commissions, creating her characteristically bold artwork for a number of huge posters and magazine covers.

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    Lawrence Zeegen has never been one to mince his words. The illustrator, writer and dean of design at London College of Communication has recently launched his new book Fifty Years Of Illustration which he co-wrote with Grafik editor Caroline Roberts. It’s an impressively ambitious undertaking with the duo condensing five decades into 1,000 images by 240 illustrators from 30 countries. Lawrence admits it’s a “pretty personal selection” but one that aims to “represent the movers and shakers across each decade according to the work I believe was instrumental in shaping the discipline.”

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    Growing up in a family of doctors, Swedish illustrator and paper-cut artist Petra Börner secured her first commission (illustrating medical journals) through her surgeon mother, which might go some way to explaining why her work is so reminiscent of botanical diagrams in biology textbooks. Petra’s principle subject is the flora and fauna of the natural world, which she creates using paper cut techniques so intricate and painstakingly-detailed that they scarcely look like they could be real.

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    Alright, we admit it – Peter Judson has made a lot of work we’ve been really into this year, and he’s had the props on the site to prove it. But why should we be made to contain ourselves when he keeps producing illustration of this calibre? Why, we ask you?

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    If, like me, you spent many an hour in your teenage years gazing absentmindedly at Larry Carlson’s experimental website Medijate, you’ll no doubt be similarly transfixed by The Landfill from the very talented Santtu Mustonen. Stitching together a “collection of unused sketches, leftover drawings and rejected ideas from forgotten projects” to a mesmerising soundtrack by Tuomas Alatalo, Santtu created a hypnotic animation that’s a work of art in its own right.

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    As the man who gave form to the twisted genius of Hunter S. Thompson, British illustrator’s Ralph Steadman’s latest project seems like a perfect fit. Ralph has worked with Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan to illustrate some limited-edition Blu-Ray covers for a special boxset of the series due out early next year.

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    Having just re-read Sammy Harkham’s 2012 anthology of short stories Everything Together I was stupidly excited to find out he’s just got himself on Tumblr and uploaded a small but growing archive of work both old and new. Included in among old covers of Kramers Ergot, book jackets for Kafka anthologies, Bonnie Prince Billy album covers and bits and pieces of rejected work are original drawings from his ongoing graphic novel (and surely future masterpiece) Blood of the Virgin, which he’s also selling to fund further work on the project. I for one cannot wait to see this project massive volume finally realised. Keep at it Sammy!

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    This top image by New York-based illustrator Karan Singh caught my eye on purely aesthetic grounds; it was only when I delved a little deeper that I discovered the interesting story behind the work. Karan was one of several artists commissioned by Ogilvy New York to work on the IBM US Open Sessions, whereby LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy created a series of tracks based on data gathered at the tennis tournament.

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    I came across the work of Matthias Geisler over on Booooooom the other day and was reminded that we hadn’t posted something like this in a while. Matthias’ work is a swirling blend of spirits and creatures that are created with meticulous use of pencil crayons and water-colours. Is it me or are watercolours real in at the moment? All the cool kids seem to be using them.

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    If you’re feeling a bit bleary eyed this morning, grab a cup of coffee and take a look at Goncalo Viana’s beautiful illustrations to wake yourself up. Rich with colour and charming detail his work has a wonderful texture to it, as though you could reach out and actually feel the deep pigments he’s used.

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    Before I write anything about illustrator Nicolas Delort I feel like full disclosure is necessary; between the ages of 11 and 14 I spent all of my pocket money collecting and painting Warhammer models and most of my saturdays hanging out in Games Workshop, which means I’m predisposed to LOVE epic fantasy artwork, like Frank Fazetta, Julie Bell and Boris Vallejo.

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    It’s comforting to see the resurgence in the physical aspects of music. There was a moment a few years back when gig posters and witty, well-crafted promotional material seemed to be confined solely to the world wide web, which made every poster that was actually printed on paper something of a novelty. Not any more though: we’re receiving and finding so many illustrators now whose portfolios are chock full of variations on the humble gig poster and they are brilliant. Today we thought we’d champion this theme with Dutch illustration student Douwe Dijkstra. His visual interpretations of bands such as The Growlers and Losers are taking the stylistic qualities of early 1990s gig posters and infusing them with a modern style to make some seriously nick-able printed matter. Keep up the great work, Douwe!

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    On the morning that David Cameron is giving a press conference on the UK’s future role in Afghanistan, Scott King’s latest book seems even more significant. Anish & Antony Take Afghanistan is a graphic novel that Scott sees as “a critique of the deployment of public art,” which satirises how far we’re prepared to enforce our cultural values on others. Through Scott’s writing and Will Henry’s illustrations, we follow as Anish (Kapoor) and Antony (Gormley) try and bring cultural regeneration to the war-torn country.

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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.”