Illustration Archive

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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.

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    In the midst of some research last week I came to Mat Maitland’s site and spent a blissful few minutes reminding myself of his brilliance. Mat – one of the talents on the consistently excellent Big Active roster – pulls off one of the most difficult image-making tricks around, and what’s more he makes it look easy. There’s an awful lot of surrealist collage and far too often it feels like it’s trying too hard, but Mat knows exactly what works and what doesn’t and just as importantly he knows when to stop. So it’s no surprise that big-name clients are beating a path to his door, so Mat is the man behind the new posthumous Michael Jackson release and a recent Prince single among other gems.

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    We don’t do this very often but one of our heroes, Brecht Vandenbroucke, turned up at the studio this morning all the way from Antwerp, just to say hi. It reminded us of what a thoroughly nice chap he is – he always hand-paints any envelope he sends our way – and what an incredible talent too. He kindly signed and drew in a copy of the Autumn 2013 Printed Pages, for which he created an exclusive set of White Cube comics, which we’ll be giving away later today on the Printed Pages Twitter. But for now remind yourself of what a terrific chap he is by enjoying his latest portfolio updates. Bye now!

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    I’m reading Just Kids by Patti Smith at the moment (aware that I’m late to the party) and I’m constantly stricken with jealousy over how she was alive and in New York at the best possible time, and that magical era of art and music will perhaps never happen again, in my lifetime anyway. What I can take comfort in, however, is that I share the same earth as a bunch of illustrators and artists who make such weird, spectacular work – and that too is a rare and unforeseen period in history. These artists are people like Derek Ercolano here, whose primary colour comics and distorted images are the work, I think, of a preternatural genius. I don’t know if he knows the other contemporaries in his clan: HTML Flowers, Simon Hanselmann, Patrick Kyle, Tom Sewell, Rob Pybus and Sophia Foster-Dimino to name a few, but if he does, I hope they’re all partying in a wet cave somewhere together.

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    Paula Troxler’s lovely designs and illustrations come in all the colours of the crayon pack. Her work crosses several mediums, from zine-making and editorial work for German magazines to designing identities for jazz festivals and theatre productions, and in each and every one of her pieces she manages to retain the same charismatic playfulness that we cannot get enough of. We love all of her unpolished ink drawings and her whimsical posters that burst with life, character and hints of folklore.

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    This is not our first post about Josephin Ritschel, whose incredibly intricate risograph illustrations are so beautifully warm and pleasurable to look at that we felt a real need to fill you in on her latest work. Her drawings are comforting like your favourite reoccurring dream, and feature the kind of modernist homes found in dense Scandinavian forests that you can imagine Grace Kelly hanging out in while sipping margaritas.

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    Such good illustration here from one of Agent Pekka’s sparkling roster of artists, Sanna Mander. If you like vintage cars, Edward Scissorhands, The Flintstones or I Dream of Genie then this is going to be right up your street. Fantastic cluttered illustrations illustrate magazine fantastic articles all over the world with little 1950s-style trademarks such as pronounced wood grains, pointy eyeliner, cute tablecloths and basically any aesthetic that you might see in, let’s say, the 1976 Freaky Friday intro. Some people get bothered about illustrators taking from the days of yore, but personally this kitsch style is right up my suburban American street. That illustration for Brummell magazine is absolutely beautiful.

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    There are doodlers and then there are doodlers, and then there is Félix Decombat, who has taken doodling to a whole new level with both a website and a Flickr site full to the brim with some of the best lo-fi illustration we ever did see. The incredible variety of styles in the heap is testament to just how much talent Félix has, dabbling in comic book-esque imagery and fully fledged sketch-style work alongside chunky, bold or monochromatic variations.

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    What a joy it is to come into It’s Nice That and have a filthy, hardback comic book that you’ve been waiting patiently for for what feels like FOREVER sat on your desk. Forming II is the brainchild of Jesse Moynihan, infamous comic book creator and storyboarder for widely-loved cartoon, Adventure Time. For some reason I personally cannot get into the latter, but the former I love with all of my heart.

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    Toni Halonen’s work is almost unrecognisable from when we first featured it back in 2012. The Finnish designer and illustrator has more or less abandoned the CGI characters and distorted typefaces that populated his early work in favour of something altogether more natural and illustrative – which is probably because he now keeps his own design studio as well.

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    I wish this book had been around when I was studying chemistry at school, which I decided to take on the premise that it might be a bit like potion making or cooking. Needless to say, I wasn’t very good, and spent most of my time marveling at how similar the elements seemed to be to humans. I just about passed by concocting stories about why oxygen and hydrogen got on so well, and why lithium and bromine so venomously hated each other.

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    Usually illustration provokes a really happy feeling in me, a feeling of envy mixed with passion and cheer. Sophia Foster-Dimino’s is probably the first I’ve seen that brought me really, really up and then super down because to be honest, why bother doing anything or looking at anyone else’s drawings anymore because it will never be as good as this? We found Sophia through Pitchfork Review creative director Michael Renaud who commissioned her to do a comic for their latest issue. What a great move that was, although that wasn’t her first commission by any means – she’s been a Google Doodler in San Francisco for years. How cool is that? Her work is some of the best I’ve seen in such a long time, a sparkling bag of Rookie, teen films, Moomins, Chris Ware, Studio Ghibli and lobsters. What a woman. More please.

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    We’ve only just stumbled across the witty, wonderful work of Wendy MacNaughton, which seems really crazy because she’s illustrated for a handful of incredible publications and her work has been featured almost everywhere, from The New York Times to Juxtapoz to Jezebel. The graphic journalist from San Francisco has even created her own game for McSweeney’s called Pen & Ink, which we seriously need to get hold of, because if these illustrations are anything to go by, we imagine it’s really extraordinary.

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    It’s nice to be alive in a time where something so close to home has become such a cult. Becky Sloan and Joe Pelling and co. have just launched their new Kickstarter to fund some more episodes of everyone’s favourite animated series, Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared. The first two episodes saw Sesame Street-like characters try to decipher slightly heavy issues such as creativity and time in a weird, usually pretty manic way that left the lovers of the unusual all over there world dribbling and moaning for more. The two videos combined have had over 20 million views (!!!) and now the duo behind them are keen to make more. The only problem is they haven’t got any money. Luckily for them, and us, Kickstarter exists!

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    Coming across Alexis Beauclair’s work on the enormous, vacuous gravel pit of the internet was like driving past a yard sale and screeching to a halt upon seeing a rare pinball machine you’ve been lusting after for years. Where did this man come from? Check out his bone china-coloured works spattered with post-apocalyptic, bald creatures and lines so delicate they’re like hairs that have dropped on to a scanner from above. Mixed in with all that sci-fi and whimsy is a clear passion for geometry – who knew making a series of pictures in navy triangles and circles could be so beautiful? Thank you Booooooom for showing us Alexis, he’s made our day. The only annoying thing is now we want to buy every single one of his small, beautifully-printed publications.

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    What do you get if you chuck Daniel Clowes’ Ghost World, a handful of Riot Grrrl records, and three pristine, porcelain China dolls into a blender? We don’t have an exact answer for you, but we can imagine that you’d probably end up with something along the lines of these illustrations by Berlin-based Anna Deflorian. Not only a talented illustrator and graphic novelist, Anna’s also directed an amazing animation for His Clancyness, which traces the adventures of a girl band whose stern faces, chunky clothes and relaxed demeanours recall the all-female rock band The Shaggs. We love these wonderful, witchy drawings and bright, bold comic strips, and will definitely be keeping an eye on what Anna gets up to next.

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    French illustrator Amélie Carpentier is to thank for this slice of pleasantry; she has a diverse range of styles in her portfolio, and nestled happily among various different projects is Amour Trouble, an illustrated comic book-esque publication about one man’s trials of the heart. The frames used to delineate each scene in the story act as a kind of signature to Amélie’s style, switching from circles and squares to hexagons progressively as the story advances, lending it a geometric theme and a cool alternative perspective. She’s got the knack of outlining stories with little more than recurring forms and simply-constructed characters, both traits which are sure to see her create many more cool books yet.

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    It’s only been a year since we last updated you on Paul Paetzel’s pictures and now, with mind-boggling speed, he’s churned out another set of amazing drawings. His new illustrations are as mad as ever and we can’t get enough of them: retro spaceships manned by masked superheroes zoom about in skies the colour of highlighters, and robots hang out in science fiction-infused bureaucratic rooms. It’s spectacular work, and has the magic ability to take you back in time to your childhood whilst simultaneously rocketing you straight into the cosmic future. Paul’s new work includes an adorable birthday card for his dad, illusory portraits, cat-themed comic covers, and illustrations for calendars. Who knows what fantastical things he’ll come up with next.