Illustration Archive

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    Ken Garland has long been one of our creative heroes here at It’s Nice That – he’a man who combines talent and charm with effervescent energy. So imagine our excitement when we found out that Pudkin Books – the publishers he started with wife Wanda in 2008 – were finally available online. The overarching theme of the series is “A Close Look At…” and most of them showcase Ken’s own photography, with subjects ranging from pebbles to street graphics, Mexican windows to Berlin’s Buddy Bears. But others feature John Laing’s watercolours, Lana Durovic’s photographs and most intriguing of all, utterly charming illustrations produced by Ken’s daughter Ruth when she was just a teenager (A Close Look At Playing Out).

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    We first featured illustrator Mike Ellis late last summer, but it seems that he’s been super busy in the past six months as we’ve got plenty of reasons to put him on the site again. The first of which is his new project, Room for Rent. Mike illustrated five of his friends’ apartments and houses for an exhibition in Toronto, installing them in an illustrated 3D dolls’ house in which they could be illuminated using LED lights. Even without the miniature technology though, the illustrations are very beautiful; scratchy and bright and wholly unlike anything we’ve seen before. And what we wouldn’t give for a collection of plants to rival the one in Nolan.

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    Robert Crumb fans (of which there are thousands) hold on to your seats because TASCHEN have just released another volume of the legendary cartoonist’s sketchbooks, and this collection precedes the last.The six volume edition encompasses 18 years of the artist’s career, edited by Crumb himself into what he considers to be his very best work from the period. There’s the usual glut of smut you’d expect from this uniquely perverse mind, but also studies for commercial work and hundreds of other pieces of extremely rare material. As ever the folks at TASCHEN have spared no expense on the release, and the hardcover, slip-cased set contains a total of 1,344 luxuriously printed pages. But that should be enough to satisfy the most die-hard fans out there. Although you really can’t have too much Crumb in your life.

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    I knew these images would take me on a trip down memory lane, but I wasn’t quite prepared to open the little blue file of images and be hurtled back to being eight years old, with my nose in a thrice-read Jacqueline Wilson book. Anyone else who grew up obsessed with these incredibly famous children’s books will know about Nick Sharratt, the man behind the instantly-recognisable illustrations for Jacqueline’s stories. He took her tales about children facing up to the perils of adult life and invented characters with his pens that have stayed with us since, if not inspired many of us to pick up a pen and start drawing ourselves.

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    It’s becoming something of a yearly tradition for us to check back in with Malin Rosenqvist, the very talented Swedish illustrator responsible for a bunch of posts from us cataloguing her creative development over the past few years. And never one to disappoint, she’s back again this spring with loads of new stuff for us to fawn over.

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    You should know before you start reading that we really love Jim Stoten, he’s one of our favourite illustrators. So now you won’t be surprised when we start to gush about his latest project for Nobrow 9 which sees him tackling a comic based on scale and proportion that zooms in, step-by-step, from one panel to the next, allowing you to travel at speed through time and space. Jim takes you into the eye of a cat where a man plays piano on a toadstool, across a desert on a sunbather’s knee that’s home to a camel with can-can dancer eyelashes. There’s a guitar-playing duck with a solar system in his sunglasses and a horse galloping across the screen of a television on the moon. Jesus Christ it’s good. You should go have a look!

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    Body-paint remains something of an overlooked form in the art and illustration worlds – too many great-seeming-but-actually-very-difficult-to-execute ideas have gone awry in the wrong hands. Janine Rewell, however, appears to have the right ones. She already has a stack of fantastic illustration work under her belt, and her most recent project with Finnish shoe designer Minna Parikka has seen her apply all of this skill to the art of body-painting.

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    We’ve always gone nuts for Brecht’s work, his deeply satirical view on the modern world is impossible not to enjoy. But recently we’ve noticed he’s actually improving rapidly. We thought his work simply couldn’t be beaten, but he’s become not only a better illustrator as the years have progressed, but also a better satirist. Examining his recent work you’ll find all kinds of imagery that deals with current affairs and news stories in the most extraordinary fashion, dressing them up in cartoonish clothing to sneak hawk-eyed observations under the radar. But in truth Brecht sees the world for what it is, and pictures that seem like just a bit of fun at first can often have some pretty hard-hitting messages.

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    It doesn’t happen that often, but occasionally we come across a creative talent who is tremendously familiar to us but who for some baffling reason we have never celebrated on the site. So it is with French illustrator and character designer Geneviève Gauckler, whose work has cropped up in group shows but who has never been feted in her own right – until now. Ciitng the title sequence of Flipper as one of her major inspirations, Geneviève creates characters that snap, crackle and pop with vibrancy and personality, leaping off the print or magazine cover to frolic in the farthest reaches of your imagination.

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    Always With Honor are one of those frustratingly talented studios capable of effortlessly turning out thoughtful, considered design and illustration for clients as international and massive as Nike and as small as Boke Bowl, their local noodle bar. This scalable approach to clients comes to bear on their aesthetic choices too. Their vector graphics can be transformed from hard-hitting monochrome icons to a playful herd of animals (like the ones below) with the simple addition of a few colours, and yet still maintain that signature Always With Honor vernacular.

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    One of the best parts of this job is finding out that a brilliant creative featured on the site has picked up work as a direct result of that article. Sometimes we find that out by way of an email, or bumping into someone in the pub, but at OFFSET 2014 it was great to hear Sarah Mazzetti namecheck us from the main stage.

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    Beyoncé commands a level of awe and respect unlike almost any other prominent cultural figure, but in Hattie Stewart’s world nobody gets a free pass. And so for her first UK solo show opening next week at Brighton’s No Walls Gallery, the iconic blue Gentlewoman cover featuring the superstar comes in for Hattie’s trademark doodle-bombing (although it appears slightly more respectful than the treatment meted out to some other cover stars by her pen).

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    There aren’t many things that ring of sheer joy more than hand-painted signs – probably due to their association with sunny leisure time spent at beaches, funfairs and food establishments. But just because those places call out for sign painters doesn’t mean that everywhere else can’t be decorated really, really nicely too. Thank God for the very talented Bella Pace then, who’s spending her days creating meticulously well-crafted, hand-painted signs for businesses all over London. From Brixton Bookmongers to food stalls in Borough Market, Bella’s signs are popping up all over the place, even in music videos like the one she made for Tom Rosenthal below. Long may Bella, and the age-old craft she has totally nailed, make the world a more beautiful place.

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    Berlin-based illustrator Florian Bayer is a master of traditional media, using dip-pen and ink to create bold illustrations full of movement and life. He’s been practicing for a good while now and has abandoned the idea of maintaining a specific “style,” instead using his impressive draughtsmanship to suit the story he’s telling or the parameters of the brief. As a result his portfolio is brimming with fantastic portraits, scrappy illustrations of legendary musicians affecting powerful poses and a book that focuses on Austrian anthropology. It’s a mixed bag of subjects and styles encompassing reportage, editorial and children’s illustration, but there’s a phenomenal level of skill displayed in each and every piece.

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    Back in 2011 Sarah Maycock was one of the It’s Nice That Graduates, and has since been fondly remembered in the studio as “the one that did the bear” – referring to her enormous print of a bear we exhibited in the small show that gained her a truckload of fans. Since then she’s been non-stop illustrating, with an enormous amount of high-end clients hounding her for her beautiful, instantly recognisable artwork. It’s been a while since we caught up with her, so Sarah kindly sent over a bunch of new projects and some information about what she’s been up to of late. A lot, it turns out.

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    It’s amazing how one creative decision can elevate an interesting project into something really special, but that’s the power of the right idea executed in exactly the right way. This zine for Converse by our sister agency INT Works is a perfect example of this, with the sneaker brand looking for the right way to celebrate the launch of the new All Star Chuck ’70. Having commissioned superb illustrations from the likes of HORT, Leslie David, Santtu Mustonen, Katie Scott and Jordy van den Nieuwendijk, they designed a publication which told the story of the product in quite a straightforward way, until readers tore through the French-folded booklet to unleash the eye-catching imagery.

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    I was under the impression that we’d last featured Edward Tuckwell’s portfolio a few months back, but it turns out it’s been a year and half since we last checked in with the former Falmouth illustrator. Time flies eh? Even though the months have flown by, Ed’s work has remained fantastically consistent; still maintaining those film noir sensibilities and a crisp, angular approach to image-making. What has changed however is Ed’s embracing of colour (he used to be so monochrome) and the expanding of his visual language into something that feels more malleable; clients could definitely hire this guy and be confident that his work would feel tailored to them. And they already have, with commissions in the bag for the likes of Wired, The Church of London and Short List. Nice work!

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    Doesn’t it just boggle your MIND how good every single record sleeve is? Whether you’re rummaging through a mouldy box at a car boot sale or flicking through a friend’s collection, it’s always astonishing to see the level of craftsmanship by potentially entirely unknown artists that decorates this packaging. For me the illustrated ones are always my favourite – pastel colours, psychedelic typography and cute happy cartoons – which is why when we came across this archive, it kind if made my Friday.

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    Whenever we hear whispers of updates from Santtu Mustonen we get very excited indeed. The Finnish New Yorker always produces visually arresting imagery that we’re powerless to resist, so it’s usually just a case of seeing which brands have bought into his delightful trademark style this time round. In this instance he’s got a brand new website to house exciting new projects for the likes of Granta, Wired and Architecture In Helsinki. He’s also producing an ever-increasing amount of motion graphics, which we have to say add an impressive depth to what is already eye-catching work.

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    There’s something of a divide at It’s Nice That between those who appreciate comics and those who don’t, which is why artists like Talya are perfect for us as she dabbles in both comic book-making and brilliant illustration. Her red-nosed characters lounge in rays of sunshine, hike through forests and – like all great comic book stars – discuss and grapple with the bigger questions that can hang over our daily lives. I’m pretty sure Talya’s artwork isn’t for everyone, but I’m certain that it’s some of the most intriguing, beautiful, and unique illustration I’ve seen for a while. Anyone who sees this image and doesn’t immediately feel the sun on their face and the prospect of summer needs to get their eyes tested.

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    Dutch illustrator/designer/artist Louis Reith produces work with a multimedia focus. His portfolio is equally full of sculptural pieces, mixed media collage and more traditional inks on paper – he can pretty much turn his hand to everything. Whether he’s reimagining photgraphs as geometric landscapes or fashioning old maps into 3D mountain ranges the one thing that ties all of his work together is the reapropriation of found objects into a single artistic vision; every single piece crafted from a second-hand book, an antiquated map or even a flea-market photo album.

  22. Tom-list

    Tom Gauld is one of those illustrators It’s Nice That can’t really function without; between his hilarious short comics, his book Goliath and his glorious Bookshelf feature I think we can happily resign ourselves to the kind of long-term fandom that only the die-hard will commit to.

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    Pure. Unadulterated. Joy. That’s what this is. I had a bit of a cringe moment when I re-read the last post we – well, I – wrote about Mari’s work on the site back in 2012, as it was just a mishmash of nice words that didn’t quite do it justice. A trip to her website nearly two years later brought on a similar feeling to that of meeting someone you had met years ago and them telling you they had since had loads of children and won the lottery.

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    Ooooh this is nice! A beautifully crafted publication from one third of Nous Vous and illustrator and potter extraordinaire, Will Edmonds. Will’s been making us smile for years with his simple, colourful drawings that evoke a childish naivety in everyone who gazes upon them, and now he’s decided to encourage it further with a book of musings and poetry. Have a think, see what you think, let me know what you think – which may be the best book title I’ve ever read – is a scrapbook-like collection of his geometric drawings sitting alongside his friendly, philosophical writing. The book was published by Jack Scott of London-based independent publishers Corporeal.

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    I wish somebody had told me back when I was struggling ardently with biological diagrams in my year eight science classes that they could be as beautiful as these are. This selection of botanical illustrations is from a collection called The Families of Flowering Plants by L. Wattson and M.J. Dallwitz, and we stumbled across them on lovely Chinese blog Waterfall. They’re the epitome of “accidentally wonderful”; delicate down to the very last detail and perfectly coloured in a way that you just can’t replicate digitally, they’re the kind of image I’d like to fashion into a kind of wallpaper and cover the walls of my flat with.

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    Lovely stuff here from Berlin-based illustrator Jeong Hwa Min, whose colourful prints and new book entitled Chicken or Beef have really got us going this morning. Deceptive bright colours mask the political undertones in his work, and strange, funny little characters get up to no good in the background of each large, cheerful mural. we came across him via the ever-growing treasure trove of work that is Flickr, and were sucked in by his image for Journal 360 which depicts industrial cranes lowering a book into a larger book coffin. It’s the fun-looking yet deeply sinister, unsettling images like these that are what we enjoy most and also what Jeong seems really, really excellent at. So, if you’re reading this, more please!

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    I don’t normally go in for illustration thats composed from inky washes. It always reminds me of fashion illustration so I can’t shake the feeling that it’s somehow inherently shallow. But German illustrator Tina Berning turns my prejudice on its head with her stunning ink and watercolour portraits. Her use of line is so practiced and her attention to detail so honed that it’s impossible not to be engrossed by her vast portfolio of editorial illustration. I’ve also had the pleasure of seeing Tina speak about her work and can vouch for the rigour of her process. Seriously impressive stuff.

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    Nobody makes fan art these days. Everyone’s too busy updating their Instagram, or Twittering, or doing stuff on Skype and that. Plus there’s so many bands to listen to now that music is basically free that it’s nearly impossible to choose what you actually like. Are you into rap or is it actually death metal that floats your boat? Gahd, it’s all so complicated!

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    Illustration and animation are often typecast as mediums for kids, and while usually we take enormous pleasure in digging up evidence to prove this isn’t the case, occasionally it is true. Especially when it comes to finding a way to take boring, patronising adult advice and making it fun and engaging for younger generations. Cottoning on swiftly to this home truth, the UK’s very dully-named Internet Advertising Bureau commissioned illustrator Dominic Owen and animator Will Samuel to make a short illustration educating kids about internet ads.

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    How Jiro Bevis finds the time to produce so much awesome work we’ll never know, but the London-based image-maker always seems to be hard at it, turning the most obscure pop culture references into killer illustration. Since we last caught up with him – when he did some beyootiful work for our Annual – he’s churned out a whole load of great new projects like it aint’ no thing, for the likes of Nike, Adidas, Bloomberg Businessweek, trendy London nightlife hotspot Barden’s and a heap of great bands. Treat yourself to a stroll through his portfolio on what’s otherwise an exceptionally grey Monday.

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    Right now in It’s Nice That towers we’re listening to a combination of an old Jens Lekman summer mixtape and the rain pattering on the skylights above our heads. What better time then to banish away the cold than with these glorious drawings by Belgian illustrator Ellen van Engelen? Ellen’s work is all sunshine, teenage bedrooms, psychedelic vinyl sleeves and Marge’s Bouvier family quilt from The Simpsons. Her vitamin D-infused work has been featured in (deep breath) The New York Times, The New Yorker, Nobrow, De Standaard, De Morgen Magazine, The Bulletin, The Guardian, Mixmag and countless others. Why? Because her illustrations are stylish, nostalgic, and give off rays of genuine, contagious happiness.

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    Californian artist and illustrator Jon Han makes work that’s unlike anything else we’ve seen. though his practice is predominantly grounded in painting, he regularly brings digital elements into the mix that pull otherwise traditional illustration into the here and now – slicing and dicing with Photoshop. This strangely anachronistic approach to illustration lends itself beautifully to the documentation of the present day, in which we’re stuck between a hyper-technological future and the practices of the past, meaning Jon’s regularly commissioned by the likes of The New York Times, The New Yorker, Plan Sponsor and Businessweek for his on-point observations. We really can’t think of a better person to document our strange daily lives.

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    A year ago yesterday I introduced you all to San Franciscan illustrator Niv Bavarsky and prattled on about how talented I thought he was. That’s still very much the case, although I’ve now had a year to stalk him on Instagram and really reflect on his status as my new favourite illustrator. Normally I’m fickle about this kind of thing, but Niv still holds the top slot in my eyes. You probably don’t really care why, but I’m going to tell you anyway.

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    If his artwork is anything to go by, Job Boot looks like the kind of guy who created masterpieces from iron filings in his physics lessons and left his classmates awestruck with his powers of composition while they were still fiddling about with magnets and equations. His illustration uses combinations of tiny lines, dots and dashes alongside bright primary colours to create the vaguest suggestions of forms, which in turn are all the more effective for their minimalism. If it’s evidence you’re after, the Anglepoise lamp below should be all the proof you need; constructed from a series of thick lines and yellow blocks it’s like a mishmash of minimalist formations and Mondrian influences.

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    Eight months ago we crowned second year Falmouth illustrator David Doran our Student of the Month because his work was just plain awesome. The discipline and skill on display in his illustration was second to none and it’s only improved since. Also improved is David’s client list, which now includes The New York Times, Wrap, Hunger and Plansponsor which, given he’s still not graduated, is nothing short of extraordinary. So hats off to you David for being such an impressive illustrator – we’re sure your classmates must be deeply intimidated.

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    It feels like forever I’ve been on the hunt for a really great illustrator making work almost exclusively about the dark ages. Most commercial image-makers are so caught up in the here and now that they forget the wealth of inspiration available from mankind’s most barbaric era; the bear-baiting, the bloodthirsty duels, perpetual burning of witches and the frankly disgraceful personal hygiene.

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    Illustrator Damien Cuypers is by no means a one-trick pony, but he has carved out something of a niche for himself in real-time documentation of some of the world’s biggest fashion events. For this week’s London Fashion Week, Damien was commissioned by our fiends over at WeTransfer to come and work his magic over on these shores, and the results are – as we’ve come to expect – nothing short of sublime.

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    Way back in April 2011 we found Katie Scott’s work in a pile of emails and our minds were blown. The third-year Brighton illustration student was crafting some of the most intricate and beautiful imagery we’d seen in a long time, inspired by Japanese medical illustration, alchemical drawings and the elaborate biological paintings of Ernst Haeckel.

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    Illustration student Chritian Königsmann may still be in education, but his portfolio is already something to behold. Since the middle of last year he’s been experimenting heavily with his aesthetic direction, channelling the likes of Golden Cosmos and Ugo Gattoni to see what fits. Now he’s arrived upon a style that seems entirely his own, combining traditional print techniques and tonal shading to create truly charming illustrations. His work in progress shots of a comic dedicated to club scenes are a particular delight.

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    Call me a big sentimental geek but with the exception of anything “keep calm and carry on”-themed I rarely come across a vintage nationally-issued poster that I don’t like. This collection of old Chinese posters encouraging children to learn about hygiene and cleanliness is a prime example, and it’s right up my street. From the soft and inoffensive colours used, to the kindly-faced approachable characters and the various shapes which function as frames to mark a narrative progression, everything about the way they are designed harks back to days of glory long-past. Thank God the U.S. National Library of Medicine had the good sense to preserve them in glorious high resolution in their digital archive for us to enjoy for years to come.