Illustration Archive

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    Judging by his bulging portfolio, Jochen Schievink has had one hell of a year. The Hamburg-based illustrator has played a pretty key role in creating editorial illustration for German newspapers and publications, clocking up commissions for Die Zeit and Der Spiegel among a bunch of others, and in doing so he has made the art of boiling down complex, sprawling news stories into neat, engaging imagery his standard. As a result, his blank-eyed characters are beginning to look right at home on thin newspaper stock surrounded by blocks of tiny black type, proving that Jochen has all the necessary tools to add exactly the blotch of colour and the dynamic figures to make an uninspiring story look unmissable. We’d best get used to his spot illustrations being dotted across the newsstands – it looks like we’re going to be seeing a lot more of them.

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    Sometimes it’s possible to let a method or technique define a creative’s practice when in fact they have versatile skills. With someone like Magnus Voll Mathiassen, whose name is synonymous with a pristine form of digital illustration, you’d be forgiven for forgetting that he can draw perfectly well without his computer in front of him. But recently he went full analogue for a show in Bergen, Norway, churning out 20 beautiful ink drawings in under six hours; framing them, hanging them and exhibiting them that same day. The original drawings are monochromatic, varying between the figurative and abstract. Stylistically it’s recognisably Magnus but with the added charm of fluid, decisive mark-making in brush and ink.

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    Friend of Leif Podhajsky, wearer of a waxed moustache and creator of some seriously trippy artwork, Nick Stewart Hoyle – or Signalstarr as he likes to be known – is a creative we should all be paying attention to. His signature style is one of retro-futuristic wizardry; a merging of Hollywood’s 1980s visions of the future and ancient mythology; Sun Ra meets Man Ray, and any number of other anachronistic parallels. Whether, like me, you’ve always had a penchant for Iron Maiden’s Powerslave cover or you just enjoy the occasional bit of psychedelia in your life, the arresting power of Nick’s work is undeniable. He’s here to take us to the stars, ideally in an electrified floating pyramid.

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    With a client list that includes The New York Times, The Atlantic and Le Monde, Sébastien Thibault seems to be the guy that heavyweight news organisations call when they want someone to distill complex and serious stories into communicative visuals. The Quebec-based illustrator has a tremendous ability to take difficult, controversial and confusing ideas and turn them into something immediate, appropriate and often very perceptive. So whether it’s the end of liberal zionism, the debate over alternative medicine or suicide rates in the military, Sebastien is incredibly adept at creating a pitch-perfect visual treatment in his recognisable style.

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    Bringing a new perspective to industrial design and illustration, a show at The Aram Gallery sees RCA graduate Rachel Gannon illustrate a series of furniture designs, with each discipline feeding into the other as Rachel’s work is exhibited alongside products by industrial designers André Klauser and Ed Carpenter, who work together under the moniker Very Good & Proper.

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    Finnish artist and illustrator Toni Halonen is very much in demand. Whether it’s brands like Kenzo and Nokia, magazines like Trendi and Bloomberg Businessweek or institutions like the Design Museum Finland, clients are queuing up for a dose of his bright bold imagery. So we were super-excited when he agreed to create the latest artwork for our London Graphic Centre billboard project and even more thrilled when we saw his final image for the Covent Garden store.

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    With beautiful composition and a real elegance to his work, Paris-based Tom Haugomat’s portfolio is like taking a sophisticated stroll in your Sunday best. While his style feels familiar, Tom’s ability to execute his images to such a smart finish separates him from the others so it’s no surprise his work has appeared in numerous magazines. Having started his career as an animator, Tom’s love for illustration soon took over, enabling him to develop his own style. A wonderful graininess and pared-back colour palette is used in each of his illustrations, and the way Tom plays with space and the figures within the image creates an atmospheric and compelling story.

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    It’s a cliche now to say that food magazines have become a cliche. New ones are served up seemingly every week and various titles have food specials from time to time, the formula of which has become very familiar. Respect then is due to The Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazine which eschewed the well-trodden territory of glossy photographs artfully designed to look unstaged for its latest food issue. Instead the SZ team turned to Israeli artist Rutu Modan, who illustrated the entire thing from the cover through the 100 ages that follow. It’a bold approach for a weekly supplement but they’ve pulled it off in style and Rutu’s images pull the whole issue together into a great-looking cohesive whole.

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    If we put a penny in a jar for every time we gave a nod to Berlin-based studio Haw-lin relentless sourcing of cracking creative talent we’d likely have at least a fiver in there by now. And by way of adding to the growing stash, here’s another gem we came across on on their online moodboard – Alexander Medel Calderón. The Santiago-based graphic designer and illustrator makes work which is colourful and playful above all else, championing a palette of primary colours and a selection of shapes straight from Microsoft Word with an admirable nonchalance. While it’s not all fun and games – Alexander has an innovative and experimental approach to typography too, proven by some super sharp poster design and flashy lettering – there’s a healthy dollop of irreverence in what he does, and we’re complete suckers for a bit of that.

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    In spite of the myriad ways that the internet is one of the greatest inventions of all time, there are some corners of the creative world that it cannot measure up to. Illustrator Thibaud Herem’s work is one of them. And that’s not to say that his architectural drawings don’t look great rendered in millions of tiny pixels and presented in front of a light source – they do, of course – but there’s still nothing like seeing the huge lengths of stained, scratched and wrinkled paper unrolled across the carpet to admire the incredible detail in the inky lines of his enormous compositions.

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    It takes a strong will to choose psychogeography as the subject for a graphic novel – it’s not an easy subject to get your head round at the best of times – but that doesn’t seem to have dissuaded Christian Skovgaard. His new book Picking Up Pieces is based around a young woman who is forced to deal with the death of her lover in tandem with the news of the collapse of a historical archive in Cologne. Newly absorbed by the emergency services’ attempts to salvage what they can from the ruins, the woman finds sanctuary in tying her own loss to this physical one, and explores the two simultaneously.

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    French illustrator Baptiste Virot is a seriously exciting new talent in the comics world. He’s a man skilled in the art of wavy lines, surreal characters and traditional print processes; his portfolio is stuffed with hand-screened prints, risographed zines and bits of bizarre commercial illustration. In the age-old tradition of fanzine culture he’s just as comfortable working in stark black and white as he is creating colour separations for the manufacture of vibrant prints. Want to see some ugly people riding a giant neon dog? Today’s your lucky day pal!

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    Originally from Barcelona and now working in Finland, Magoz’s portfolio is a colourful jaunt through his editorial illustrations, which have appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines and adverts around the world.

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    Joan Cornellà is nothing short of a master of his form. He’s got the gruesome comic strip down to a fine art, creating complex and hilarious narratives and then expressing them in no more than six bright panels, from one man with a poo on his head googling “who loves me?” and being given the answer “nobody,” to another man riding a bicycle made out of a suffering friend.

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    Wild Beasts frontman Hayden Thorpe vividly remembers coming across Mattis Dovier’s work. The band had been approached to take part in The Jameson Works, a project which focuses on how creativity happens and the insights and stories picked up along the way that are as much a part of the creative process as the final outcome. Searching for some reference material, Hayden came onto It’s Nice That and saw this post of Mattis’ GIFs. “It was pretty confrontational,” he remembers. “You could see Mattis’ hand behind the work and that reflects the way we now work too.”

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    There’s something delightfully scientific about Erik Söderberg’s GIFs, however firmly I remind yourself that they’re composed of thousands of pixels. The repetitive way they pulsate and fizz quietly on the screen takes me right back to double Biology on a Thursday morning, watching in shellshocked fascination as tiny living cells mutate on a tiny strip of glass under a microscope, and grandly imagining myself to be the second coming of Louis Pasteur.

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    I love peering into people’s sketchbooks. There’s so much more honesty in an image that’s been hurriedly scribbled down on a station platform than in one which has been perfected over the course of several drafts, and I’m a sucker for that kind of insight into an artist’s process. I like to see the mistakes, the rubbings out and the development as well as the final work.

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    I came across Assa Ariyoshi’s work while perusing the latest issue of Mood Magazine where it brought alive a feature on the weird and wonderful world of Icelandic cuisine. I love the way how in this surreal dinner party scene the shark looks like he’s drunkenly ranting at the puffin. We’ve all been on both sides of this I’d wager.

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    Jean-Jacques Sempé has something of a varied CV. Having been expelled from school, he went on to become a door-to-door tooth powder salesman, a soldier and a comic book artist, before going on to creating some rather iconic covers for The New Yorker and cartoons for Paris Match.

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    If our interview with Brown Cardigan as part of our feature on to digital publishing has taught us anything, it’s that you shouldn’t underestimate the power of a GIF. Introducing then Japanese illustrator Nimura Daisuke, who has perfected the art with some of the sweetest, rudest moving images we’ve ever seen. How could you not fall for a shot of a woman flashing at a grumpy man as he looks the other way, or an unfortunate schoolboy leaning over and having the full conents of his rucksack crashing to the floor?

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    Kevin McNamee-Tweed by name, twee by nature, I’d assumed, casting an eye over these sweetly, naively sketched wee pictures of books. Then I read the titles. One contained the word “shart.” Another proclaims, “It’s Only Your Fault: How to Help Yourself”, while a more philosophical tome proffers the question “who is….BIRD HUMAN?”

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    Jean Jullien is many things. Artist. Illustrator. French. Recent emigre to New York. It’s Nice That favourite. So hot right now. He’s also the final artist to have a show at Kemistry Gallery’s current east London home before it closes its doors early next year (although as has been reported it has some excitingly ambitious plans).

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    A couple of weeks back a parcel containing the newest issue of The Pendulum made its way through our door, leading us haphazardly but happily to the website of its creator, Liana Jegers. Chicago-based artist Liana is an illustrator as well as a co-ordinator of printed imagery, and her Tumblr is full of snippets of sketches in progress which stand up admirably on their own.

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    Last week the third issue of Danielle Pender’s Riposte magazine was launched and after she and designer Shaz Madani set such a high bar with the first two issues, we were interested to see how they’d followed up their previous success. The early indications are very good. Although we haven’t seen a copy in the flesh we have had a sneak peek at some of the content and once again the title’s smart curatorial approach is very much in evidence.

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    German illustrator Nadine Redlich just keeps going from strength to strength, her catalogue of exuberant characters growing day by day. Though there’s no doubt at all that Nadine’s masterful at creating truly cheerful chappies, there’s a growing number of creatures in her portfolio who look like they’re ready to hibernate for winter, staring out at you blankly as though they wish they’d been left to sleep. Of course there’s also the belligerent mountain, the cherry at the end of its tether and that creepy fellow with the giant aubergine who I can’t help but find menacing, resulting in an altogether impressive cast of characters in a portfolio we can’t get enough of. If you want even more, Nadine’s got a comic out with Rotopol Press that you can get your hands on here. Now, back to enjoying that dog on the chair…

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    We’re no ballet aficionados, but we wouldn’t usually associate drunkards, typists and factory workers with the grace and poise of the discipline. However, as these beautiful gouache painting by Tatiana Bruni show, there’s much more to ballet than tutus and swan lake, with her angular figures, bold colours and sometimes grotesquely postured characters. The paintings show costume designs for Dmitri Shostakovich’s 1931 ballet The Bolt, and are going on show at London’s Gallery for Russian Arts and Design alongside a series of period photographs. The ballet itself was bold and striking in its use of real hammers, machine-inspired choreography, aerobics and acrobatics, and the costume images are equally as dynamic, inspired by “the aesthetics of agit-theatre and artist-designed propaganda posters”, according to the gallery. The sense of movement is palpable, whether in the graceful billowing dresses or the staggering legs of our brightly-coloured drunkard, working against the geometric rigidity of the style to beautiful effect.

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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.