Illustration Archive

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    We stumbled across these bright floral posters for YCN by Mexican illustrator Elena Boils this morning, a lovely find that has perfectly coincided with the new edition of a baby spider plant on our communal It’s Nice That desk. Elena’s lively, layered plant patterns look like something you might find on Frida Kahlo’s dresses, and we love the angular, boxy backgrounds juxtaposed with her luscious, textured shrubbery. Now based in the UK, Elena is interested in “nature as well as surreal creations,” an influence which is prevalent in her vibrant layering of two-dimensional shapes against three-dimensional spaces.

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    The stooped, gangly characters in Barbara Dziadosz’s illustrations look like they’re on constant adventures in their bubblegum-pink world. Her energetic bunch are either deep sea diving, catching butterflies in nets, or peering speculatively through a magical telescope, always surrounded by the same blobby, stenciled flora. We love the scratchy lines and rough, overlapping components of the compositions, and Barbara’s consistent pink and purple colour palette. The images are surreal and summery and joyous, with plenty of cacti terrariums containing lurking leopards and oversized cats being led by their owner through a polka-dot jungle. These bold and bright illustrations will have you itching to join in on the surreal, summery fun.

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    I’m always up for a good story, so if a visual piece of work has some sort of narrative thread running through it my eyes instantly widen with intrigue and excitement. Take illustrator Davide Bonazzi’s series Day Trippers, individually these images are done well but when seen together as a whole package, the beautifully observed moments between an elderly couple exploring a city together tells a much deeper story of love and companionship.

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    Hey that girl’s sticking her finger into an elf’s butt! That can only mean this is the work of a genius. Sure enough, the drawing I’m referring to is by Frau Franz, the sweetheart of the modern-day comic book industry. Her being handy with a crayon is particularly useful to the rest of the world as it allows her to spill the contents of her brain out on to the paper so we can marvel at it. Cool little guy reclining on a lilo, someone fingering an elf’s butt, a dog woofing at a rainbow cloud lurking in the gutter – where does all this gold come from? At the moment Frau’s living in Berlin doing freelance illustration for cash, and is a living and breathing inspiration to those who have funny, silly and sometimes gross thoughts all over the world.

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    It’s been almost three years since we last wrote about Uno Moralez, the only man whose work can genuinely shock me into open-mouthed awe. This shock is threefold: for starters I have no idea how he creates his beautiful bitmapped images, secondly his subject matter is so deliciously terrifying that I’m constantly torn between staring at it for hours and flinching to look away, and thirdly because I literally have no idea how he makes these images (I know, I said that twice)! As one of comics’ most enigmatic characters, Uno doesn’t update his site all that often, but when the new work comes it seems only appropriate to make a song and dance out of it. So dance with me!

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    Ovid once wrote that “The gods favour the bold,” and if it’s true, then Anders Nilsen must be quite high in the gods’ good books at the moment. Not only is his new comic an accordion-style that you can wrap around your desk about three times, but it also contains all kinds of insightful and humorous modern day parables about humans and their gods. The illustrations are simple but expressive: black silhouettes on sparse backgrounds that are alarmingly life-like but also enigmatic and mystical, like the shadowy puppets from Pluto’s cave. Inside the book’s folds, Anders imagines Poseidon in the 21st Century, in a world where Venus works in Hollywood and Eros runs a thing called “The Internet.” Cupid’s arrow has darted straight out of the spell-binding pages, and I think I’m in love with Anders’ new work: all I can do now is just thank the gods that such an extraordinary comic has fallen into my hands.

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    Takeru Toyokura’s work contains something of a sentimental hark back to the days of yore, when we spent hours happily sticking felt shapes to fuzzy boards and coming up with nothing that can really be labelled an actual composition. He’s ever so slightly more skilled, however, and by ever so slightly we mean his paper and felt recreations are nothing short of miraculous.

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    It’s been over three years since we featured any of Jack Teagle’s work on the site – which is nuts really as he’s been so prolific for the duration of that time. The South Western illustrator and ex-Falmouth student is still producing the kind of balls-out crazy work we’ve always loved him for, taking universal pop culture references from his (and our) 1990s childhood and turning them into fantastically fun comics and illustration. When he’s not doing that he’s creating his own characters: troubled wrestlers, a pestering Grim Reaper, steroidal ducks who want to change your life and armies of reanimated skeleton warriors. In fact I’m prepared to concede that Jack loved Thudercats even more than I did as a child, as he’s spent his entire career to date replicating that same feeling of excitement that saturday morning cartoons engendered in us all.

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    Harriet Lee-Merrion’s emotionally charged, complex and thoughtful work is absolutely breathtaking. Mostly rendered in black and white but with occasional flashes of pastel colours, Harriet’s compositions combine traditional Japanese influences with strikingly modern and dream-like imagery. We love her fine, delicate strokes, and the magnifying bubbles which subtly reveal complex emotional narratives. Harriet is part of the Beginning, Middle, End collective, a group of Falmouth-based illustrators who frequently publish a hand-bound publication of sparse narrative strips, which is well worth a look at. Harriet’s drawings are simply beautiful, and it is easy to get lost in the stories contained in her thoughtful, evocative lines.

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    This is GREAT! 2006 Brighton graduate Sarah Lippett has just finished her very first book, a touching portrait of her grandfather, Stanley Burndred. Rather than merely making a printed zine or graphic novel, Sarah has invested in creating a truly charming website through which you can navigate yourself around the details of Stan’s very interesting life. Old black and white photos and stories from the days of yore are 100% my bag, so this kind of thing is a total melt-fest for us nostalgic types – particularly in the section of the site that shows off Stan’s curiously brilliant artwork. I don’t know about you, but if my talented granddaughter makes a brilliant comic and rather epic project inspired by my boring old life, I’ll die a happy old lady indeed. Check out the rest of Sarah’s work over here on Crayonlegs.

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    As well as making some of the wittiest comics and illustrations we’ve seen for a long time, R. Kikuo Johnson lives in New York and spends his time teaching young artists valuable lessons in editorial illustration at the design-world equivalent of Hogwarts, the Rhode Island School of Design. We were wondering for ages why that school churns out so many incredible graduates – and no we know! Like Ghost World crossed with some of Adrian Tomine’s work, R. Kikuo Johnson’s warm, clever illustration is appealing to pretty much anyone – which is probably why it appears in some of the most important magazines around. Oh, to be one of his students…

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    There’s a simple, iconic power to the work of Magnus Voll Mathiassen whether he’s immortalising Krautrock legends Kraftwerk or sultry pop princess Rihanna with his trademark crisp lines. His reductive approach to image-making means he’s ideally suited to creating bold work for album covers, but to really appreciate his work it’s best to blow it up MASSSIVE. Which is more or less what he’s done for his new show Hybridio in Oslo, enlarging some of his most iconic work to the size of an actually human man so you can appreciate his skill up close. He’s also showing a selection of hand-drawn work and some incredible watercolours, thereby proving that there’s even more strings to his bow than we’d first thought.

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    For us, there is absolutely nothing better than a fantastically insightful, informative article accompanied by beautifully executed illustration or photography. This is why we, and most other magazine readers, enjoy The Gourmand so much – it is absolutely full of well-thought-out, intelligently considered combinations of curious text and image combinations. In their latest issue they asked prolific writer and chef Simon Hopkinson to delve into some of London’s oldest and most treasured butchers, bakers a food-peddlers – some no longer standing, some still going strong.

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    Last weekend we spent an intermittently rainy Saturday traipsing up and down ELCAF’s rows of tables, laden with brightly coloured printed matter of all kinds. There were comics, zines, pots and prints, giant hardbacks printed by the thousand and tiny little editions of hand-made graphic novels, not to mention the talks by titans of the comics community like Jesse Moynihan, Seth and Chris Ware. For those of us who compulsively collect anything that pairs paper with ink it was an extremely satisfying day out so we thought we’d give you a quick (and limited) rundown of some of the great stuff on display.

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    The pursuit of happiness is a preoccupation that concerns nearly all of the western world – job satisfaction, thriving inter-personal relationships and a constant sense of well-being are things we’re all convinced we need to strive for. And yet so few of us ever really find that balance. This is something that Eleanor Davis knows only too well and has sought to explore in her latest collection of comics How To Be Happy, an amalgamation of short stories and sketches created over the past seven years. It’s a stunning body of work that brings together loosely personal and wholly fictional stories about joy, anguish, fear and loneliness – emotions all motivated by that essential quest to be the best you can be.

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    They say that two’s company but three’s a crowd; not so apparently when launching a much-anticipated album and the creative collateral around it. The Glass Animals album Zaba was released last week, with the visuals overseen by our pals over at Boat Studio (the same gang who do the city-hopping magazine of the same name).

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    We wrote about this project in our Things post a couple of week’s ago, but we love Alessandra Genualdo’s illustrations for Ryan Gander’s story so much that we thought we’d dedicate an entire post to the dreamy, whimsical book.

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    Whenever you’re in a group of people discussing where you want to go next in the world, Japan is always the place people have at their top spot. I’m with them, and this work by Yuki Kitazumi pretty much encapsulates the magic that’s so enticing – cloud-thick blossom swirling over gangs of uniformed schoolchildren, tiny birds tweeting above the heads of a delicate garden party, gaggles of windswept tourists crossing over grey waters on enormous bridges. Yuki Kitazumi’s washed-out collages and pastel water-colour images depict just that – adding in some truly moving illustrations of caring for the elderly and women in the process of getting dressed. If only all illustration was as palpable as this.

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    There’s an unfair stereotype that younger generations aren’t interested in politics; the truth is they just aren’t engaged with the traditional channels through which politics are presented to the people.

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    Some of these drawings look like scenes from a post-apocalyptic world, one where kids have been let loose and started building incredible forts on top of the roofs of overgrown old cement blocks. Henry’s sandy, driftwood strewn scapes actually remind me a little of the exceptional and ecocentric Beasts of the Southern Wild: his grey and wooden swap home even looks a tiny bit like the hand-made hut that little Hushpuppy lives in.

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    Super slick glossy internet art is really good and all that, but some of the most exciting creative work bouncing around at the moment seems to be the lo-fi, cut and stuck work that could almost have been made on microsoft paint. It has that air of “selloptaped up on your grandma’s fridge” that sharp, shiny highly-computerised work just doesn’t seem to share. And when it comes to cut and stuck, Thomas Slater is the king.

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    When the London Graphic Centre asked us to commission the first creative to take over our new joint billboard project, Jean Jullien seemed an obvious choice. The massively talented illustrator has the perfect mix of technical skill and sly, funny ideas for us to let him loose on this exciting new showcase.

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    I love projects that are an homage to something cool from days gone by. I even get a bit weepy when I see the statue of Prince Albert outside The Royal Albert Hall that a heartbroken Queen Victoria commissioned. This project by Belgian illustrator Jangojim is not one of heartache and desolation, but a series of film posters created with his pal Anton Van Steelandtas as an homage to two mysterious Belgian filmmakers, The Jangton Brothers.

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    I must have written Jan’s surname about 30 times by now and I still can’t remember how to spell it. It’s that curious, somewhat sneaky “z” that peeks cheekily around the “h” with a personality not unlike the work of the talented man himself. What a long way this guy has come after drawing that inexplicably charming image of a guy with a face on upside down a few years back, to this in-demand freelance illustrator doing work for The Plant, NB Studio and most recently the newest issue of our own publication, Printed Pages. You can see why everyone wants a slice of Jan, his cheerful, confident lines, refreshing colour palettes and facial expressions of his characters (their little smiles always remind me of Dougal from Father Ted) are absolutely splendid. Nice one Buchczhzizhk.

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    I’ve always enjoyed Cleon Peterson’s work, even though the subject matter seems to focus solely on the most horrific aspects of human nature. But until now I’d only seen pieces that seemed to be set within an ancient and barbaric civilisation. Now it seems his depictions of orgiastic ultra violence have had an update, and there’s modern policemen in uniforms getting truncheon and trigger-happy on every poor sod that passes by.

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    This is just tremendous on so many levels. Peerless visual storyteller Christoph Niemann headed to Brazil ahead of the World Cup to explore the so-called Cure of Maracana (the country’s main soccer stadium). It dates back to 1950 when a howler by Brailian goalkeeper Moacir Barbosa handed the tournament to Uruguay, much to the anguish of a nation and the ruin of Barbosa. In Christoph’s brilliant mind, the curse becomes his companion with whom he explores Rio, before heading up to Brasilia to admire the modernist architecture there. But the memory of Barbosa and his sad fate gatecrashes his sightseeing (quite literally) and he is forced to return to Rio on the hunt for Brazil’s football soul.

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    To enter into the tangle of illustrations that makes up GRRRR.net is to enter into another world, a world of grizzly, pixellated line drawings and mysterious crooked nooks and corners, a world which seems to be based on the one that we know, but which also seems to belong to a separate universe entirely. Ingo Giezendanner has been working on his dense, digital atlas since 1998, a mind-blowing project which intricately documents all the cities that he’s lived in and visited over the past 16 years.

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    The World Cup inspired projects are coming thick and fast now but few have breached our offside trap more comprehensively than this. It’s a collaboration between designer Dave Sedgwick (Studio DBD) and the Bacelona’s Hey Studio, whose excellent Every Hey Instagram feed has embraced World Cup mania for the purposes of this new book.

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    The hugely talented, crisply bearded Owen Gildersleeve popped into the studio last week to deliver a copy of his new book and my word it’s a real belter. Paper Cut: An Exploration into the Contemporary World of Papercraft Art and Illustration does exactly what it says on the cover by way of showcase 25 case studies into individuals and studios working in this medium. From Rob Ryan and Chrissie Macdonald to Andersen M Studio and Le Creative Sweatshop, the subjects come from different countries and use different creative approaches to make the most of paper’s tactile qualities.

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    Dan Matutina has made the impossible possible, uniting sworn enemies by welding them together in the shape of a heart. Buttercup and Mojo Jojo look less than pleased at being eternally joined at the hip, but Batman and the Joker seem oddly at peace in their amalgamation. Perhaps some of these infamous opponents subtly grin in the knowledge that it’s best to keep your friends close, but your enemies closer, or maybe Dan’s designs prove that opposites really do attract.

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    I read in the newspaper today that a lone alien enthusiast might have discovered a spaceship whilst scanning through hours of satellite footage one coffee-fuelled night. When I think about it, it seems more likely that this space fanatic stumbled across the illustrations of Jesse Jacobs, whose explosive compositions manage to make even pastel colours seem cosmic.

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    The illustrations by Japanese based Kanae Sato teeter on the cute, yet her nonplussed moldable monsters and pictures of kids spewing stars are weird enough to intrigue us. There’s something iconic about her simple bold backgrounds and candid blotches of geometric colour, which she uses to form triangular skirts and blunt bobs that make Louise Brooks’ look unkempt. Kanae makes her irresistibly sweet icons for websites, posters and packaging, and her eye-catching creations end up looking like what kids might dream-up when designing stamps for postcards to their imaginary friends.

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    If I had to write down a list of criteria for becoming an artist or illustrator that I obsess over, it would probably go something like this: 1. They have to show something of themselves in their work. 2. They can be cutting edge, but in no way trendy. 3. They have to be 100% batshit crazy – otherwise I’m not interested. The mysterious El Neoray has all of these attributes, brought together in a portfolio that features an unflattering portrait of Grimes, a spirit animal crapping in the hands of its ward and all manner of grotesque characters that seem vaguely human but have a stunted neanderthal edge. Add that to a rudimentary use of colour and frantic, childlike line-work and you’re on to a total winner. I can’t get enough of this guy and think you really ought to feel the same.

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    The biggest news of the story of the past couple of years has probably been Edward Snowden’s crusade against the US authorities’ snooping tactics. It’s been spearheaded by The Guardian so it’s quite an honour for a creative to be asked by that very newspaper to create visuals for its own magazine’s coverage.

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    Fan art is a weird and wonderful world with laws entirely unto itself. Long-term lovers of comics, film and heavy metal bands (it’s usually these three demographics) with even slight artistic leanings love nothing more than to scribble their heroes onto any spare surface they can find – acetate cells, copy paper and even their own skin. In the field of fan art though, one recent project is head and tails above the rest: Bartkira.

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    It’s a gift to be able to see the joy in everything (within reason of course) and Italian illustrator Elena Xausa’s portfolio is a prime of example of this in action. Looking through her work is just a bag full of fun and such an uplifting alternative to all the seriousness in this world.

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    Photo booths have been doing the rounds of fancy parties in London for a few years now, and while there are still few things more entertaining than having your drunk moony preserved in photographic form for years to come, there are only so many times you can pose with a fake moustache and a wig on. Cue Artomatic.

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    The unpredictable work of Andrea Wan brings together a variety of contradictory imagery: feral jungles, luminous laptops and girls with teepees on their heads live side by side in perfect harmony, as if there was nothing weird about them coexisting on the same page. Born in Hong Kong, raised in Vancouver and now based in Berlin, Andrea must have been exposed to a variety of images and influences growing up, and it’s apparent in her enchantingly incongruous work. We love the surrealism of the illustrations as well as the hints of the modern: sloths with iPhones clamber around on stairways straight out of M.C. Escher, while cartoon ghosts balloon from brains. Containing hints of folklore and a dash of Mr Blobby, Andrea’s curious illustrations take you out of this world and straight into the realm of dream.

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    Usually we feature Jorge Primo for his refreshingly sunny approach to advertising and branding. We’ve long admired him for his careful combination of washed-out colour palettes, vintage type and regular nods to traditional and more rudimentary print processes. But today it’s just a personal project we want to talk about; a new series of posters Jorge has produced that build abstract totems from a visual kit of unique geometric forms. There’s no complex concepts here or intellectual pretence, it’s just simple colours and simple shapes brought together to form charming characters. Lovely stuff.

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    It’s almost as if Ana Albero has reached into my brain as a teenager, plucked out all of my favourite things, and then transformed them into the most spectacular illustrations, filled with chubby cheeked renderings reminiscent of the Power Puff Girls. Included in her remarkable assortment of work are portraits of the stripy-dressed, cropped-haired Jean Seberg in Breathless, a Twin Peaks comic strip, a “popfeminist” with a Le Tigre tee, and scenes from J.D Salinger. The pictures could not be any more perfect, and it’s difficult to contain the excitement when you’re scrolling through her online portfolio.