Illustration Archive

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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.

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    As I imagine was the case for annoying children countrywide, my parents occupied me on many a long car journey and a rainy weekend with geometric colouring books, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the same was true for Peter Judson.

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    James Graham has been a fully-fledged freelance illustrator for going on two years now. The RCA graduate has built up an extraordinary portfolio of sharp editorial illustration that can transform the most mundane of subjects (home insurance, tax returns, reliable computer hardware) into witty, brilliant imagery that grabs you by the retinas and holds you there. Since we last checked in with him it seems he’s been reducing his practice into even simpler forms, boiling his image-making down into a simple graphic language of monochrome perfection.

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    Look at this fantastic set of screen-prints by illustrator Liam Golden, whose multi-disciplinary work explores themes such as peculiar historic art practices, fabric design, printing methods and the exciting world of myths and legends. You Are Behaving Like An Animal is a compilation of images all representing the eternal struggle of man against beast, from the womb to the tomb, screen-printed with a very attractive and slightly naive aesthetic. What I love most about this series of images is how their narrative is strong, yet still abstract enough to let you take the steering wheel and allow you to create the myths and legends for yourself.

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    Not since July 2011 have we checked in with French illustrator Paul Loubet and his playful, multi-layered illustration. Thankfully he’s still producing sensational images that combine neon colour palettes, platform-game aesthetics and characters rendered like futuristic punks. He’s also added a new strand to his work; big, bold paintings that reference 1980s hair-metal album covers and all the best bits of glam rock. It’s pretty weird but we bloody love it!

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    I found out today that Viktor Hachmang and I are the same age which, if I’m honest, really pisses me off. I’ve been watching this guy improve and diversify over the past few years with eager anticipation – it’s extraordinary to see what new stands of imagery he adds to his oeuvre with each new update – but was convinced that he had to be at least 35 years old. His style fuses traditional ligne-claire with bright psychedelia, bold abstraction with delicate, figurative mark-making and he switches fluidly between retro-futurism and traditional subject matter. Nobody in their 20s should have such an expert mastery of draughtsmanship and a brilliant imagination to boot. But he does, he REALLY does, and for that he deserves our utmost respect.

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    Proving the age-old belief that old people often have the nicest faces, illustrator and communication designer Alice Moloney created this series of watercolour portraits after spending a week with the residents of Newent House, a day centre for elderly people. Her renditions show how all the sharp angles have been ironed out through the course of 70 or 80 years worth of facial expressions, and she somehow still manages to conjure characteristics from a bunch of smudgy pale shapes disappearing into one another. It gives me pure happiness to imagine their reactions when she turned around her sketchbook to show them what she’d been working on.

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    We first came across Alexis Nolla through his illustrations of Bill Gates posing with a tiger and munching on an apple (obviously) for the third issue of Perdiz magazine, and we couldn’t be more glad we did. If his hilarious visual accompaniments to a wholly made-up interview don’t swing you (check out the issue to see how he conveys Bill’s irrational and relentless hatred of all things Apple Mac) then his plentiful offerings for any one of his other clients will do.

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    With three posts on the site since August 2012 (one each from myself, Liv and Maisie) it’s safe to say that Sergio Membrillas is a firm favourite here in the It’s Nice That offices. We love the way he can turn his signature style to literally any subject – Chinese industry, the stock market, television addiction, or just a straight-up gig poster – and make it both engaging and beautiful.

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    PHWOAAARRRRR this is pretty good isn’t it? A veritable smörgåsbord‎ of pastel loveliness here from Berlin-based illustrator and fantastically named Lasse Wandschneider. Lasse’s work is qualification enough to let him into that amazing club of illustrators whose initiation process is all down to their work being at once helplessly naive yet secretly incredibly clever. From decisions such as leaving the Photoshop checkerboard in, or taking a sketchbook doodle and colouring it in properly to make a final piece, this is the kind of bold, reckless illustration that leaves me weak at the knees and longing to put some sort of crass zine of adorable characters together immediately. If only I had the skills to match his. While you’re here, check out Lasse’s online mood-board, it’s an absolute treasure trove of imagery.

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    We’ve got another multi-talented scallywag for you this morning in the form of Will Bryant, whose inimitable style translates seamlessly from the geometric-inspired furniture he created with with Eric Trine last spring, to a nostalgic record sleeve for Dent May, to this masterpiece of an illustrated publication called Drawings Based on Sculptures Based on Drawings.

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    The fashion world is most closely associated with photography, but we are particular suckers for illustrators bringing their talents to bear on the sartorial sphere. Ever-impressive duo Craig & Karl have just proved exactly why we like this kind of thing so much with their new images for Modern Weekly China. While a lens can capture the clothes and the model with unerring accuracy, illustrators can capture something of the spirit, the intangible associations that sometimes (but by no means always) prove beyond the photographer. Splendid stuff chaps.

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    “Martin Nicolausson is perhaps the only Swedish illustrator and graphic designer with the name Martin Nicolausson” begins his illustrator bio. “This is important as originality is one of his most admired principles.” Fortunately for Martin then originality is one aspect of his illustration which he has absolutely nailed, churning out work as he does. We’re huge fans, both for his assured combination of digital and nostalgia-influenced imagery and for his faultlessly bold colour palette.

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    Really very impressive work here from Karolis Strautniekas who, after spending a few years as an art director, decided to turn happily back to illustration where he truly belongs. Karolis has the magic ability to come up with a very good idea and very quickly turn it into an immediate drawing that speaks volumes. His Portraits from Behind series, for instance, could easily have been restricted to just his camera phone, but instead he has brought it to life in detailed, layered illustrations. His editorial work is clever, easy on the eye and not without a sense of humour. I swear my alarm clock says that (above) every morning, or at least my brain does.

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    You should never judge a book by its cover, and equally you should never judge a man by his bookshelf. WRONG! You can totally do both, I do it all the time. In the case of wonderful illustrator Bjorn Rune Lie, one look at his creaking bookshelf held in pride of place over his computer, tells you all you need to know. A closer peek into the actual contents of these shelves reveals oodles about the artist’s value of research, his love for fine draughtsmanship and his passion for the designs in nature. Take it away Bjorn…

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    Illustrator duo Cachetejack, also known as Nuria Bellver and Raquel Fanjul, have charm in oodles. Their super-colourful illustration is chockfull of energy, and has graced mediums from books, magazines and newspapers to clothing and walls. I was especially won over by Just Living, the personal postcard project which sees them transform scenes of everyday domestic mundanity into a captivating sequence of potted plants, wine bottles and canoodling friends. Lovely work!

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    There are few things that get us as excited in the studio as a brilliant comic book by somebody we’ve never heard of, and this week the superb debut offering from illustrator, graphic designer and typographer Jeremy Perrodeau ticked that box very neatly. Isles is a quietly brilliant publication, centred around the journey of three protagonists on a desert island, each taking their own route and overcoming obstacles and dangers on the way. Rendered only in black and white and described by the publisher as “an invitation to discover the obsession this geometric artist has with the universe” the narrative is intense, poignant and beautifully composed.

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    Since we featured his collaborative graduate film Eclipse in 2012, ex-Goebelins student Theo Guignard has busied himself working for French animated film giants Xilam. He now spends his days designing backgrounds for Je Suis Bien Content, experts in animation for television. Thankfully, for those of us that love his personal work, he’s still creating imagery for himself – hunched over a desk late at night we’d imagine. His inky sketches have a retro-futuristic feel to them, featuring strange characters composed from loose geometric shapes and rendered in ink-washes that lend them an antiquated feel. They might not move around on cue, but they’re pretty spectacular to look at all the same.

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    Sometimes when we do something new, like put a magazine or a T-shirt in the shop we get a bit overexcited and waffle on about how good that new thing is. But this time we’re doing things differently. We’ve just released a brand-spanking new T-shirt designed by illustrator Tim Lahan and you can get your hands on it here, here and here. The pictures down below do all the talking we need them to (observe how awesome we look hiding by the cheese plant) so all that remains to be said is what a great guy Tim is for taking the time to do some drawing for us, and that we hope you enjoy these tees as much as we do. Now go get one over here!

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    It was way back in 2012 that we featured Paul X Johnson on the site when he bowled us over with his stylised visual sensibilities. Fast forward 18 months and it’s good to see the London-based illustrator has lost none of the panache that so excited us first time round. What seems significant is the amount of repeat clients who come back to Paul again and again for his image-making; the likes of Little White Lies, SHOP magazine, and The Courtneeners among others. While his portraits of the likes of Ryan Gosling and Kristen Stewart are tight enough, it’s his imagined scenes that really slay me; a strange and unsettling world where things may not be what they seem.

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    Everybody knows that the best birthday presents are the ones you make yourself. Especially if you, like Joe Stone, happen to be a super-talented graphic designer and illustrator with an infallible knowledge of Tarantino’s classic Pulp Fiction, a passionate love for Guess Who? and a really, really good friend.

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    You just don’t get much better than this, right? A Berlin couple who create some of the most joy-infused, well thought-out illustrations you’ve ever seen. Imagine actually living in the world of Golden Cosmos; plants, sunshine, orange juice, good books, new socks, tiled floors…Oh my.

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    Every now and again the internet throws a gem into your path, and for me it happened this week with not one but two creatives; illustrator Joost Stokhof, who goes by the name “The Things We Are”, and designer Nick Liefhebber, in the form of this riso-printed zine. Entitled Chaos or rather χάος, the project combines the compositions and patterns of Greek vase paintings with the restricted colours of risograph printing, to create a collection of 13 images based on the pandemonium from which the gods first arose in Greek mythology.

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    From Modern Toss to The Far Side, to breakfast newspaper staples Matt and Banx, there’s nowt better than seeing a universal truth represented with a funny one-liner cartoon. We don’t often put this kind of thing on It’s Nice That, which seems odd considering what a wonderful and spectacularly niche skill it is. Paul Noth is up there with the greats, and his witty gags grace the pages of the New Yorker and the Wall Street Journal on the regular.

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    It takes a seriously design-oriented brain to be able to count illustration, art direction, photography, video and graphic design among its gifts, but Paulo Melo does so. The jack of all trades has proven the “master of none” part of that fabled expression to be entirely untrue, as he really does have fingers in several creative pies.

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    David Sparshott was one of the first illustrators I worked with after joining It’s Nice That and I’ve been a passionate evangelist of his skills ever since. What I like about his work is that it strikes such a different chord to the brilliant but very whimsical stuff which we post an awful lot on the site. This point is exemplified by the newest commission uploaded to David’s Handsome Frank portfolio, a series of illustrations for N Magazine bringing a former Yugoslav leader’s luxurious private train to life.

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    Lucy Engelman is an illustrator in the most traditional sense of the word. The Michigan-based image maker spends her days with dip pen and ink, rendering landscapes and animals from the natural world with scratchy anatomical precision. Inspired almost exclusively by the great American outdoors her work is littered with flora and fauna native to the USA, manifested in lifelike natural scenes, taxonomic drawings and laboriously detailed maps.

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    It’s a long acknowledged online truth that cats mean clicks. But if you were drawn in by Tom Edwards’ cute kitties above then prepare to be shocked; Tom’s drawing is a representation of the fact that Egyptian pharaohs were buried with 38 cats. This grisly feline tidbit is one of many such morsels collated by the creators of a new publishing service The Book Of Everyone, a website and app whereby you can order a personalised book for someone you love (or hate. But that’d be weird).

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    We’ve praised him previously for his terrific use of colour and his effortless renderings of fabrics as simple, understated forms, but we really didn’t expect to be lauding Toby Neilan’s ability to paint trains. The majority of Toby’s portfolio is full of fashion and architecturally-minded illustration that plays fast and loose with rich colour palettes; and then there’s this great collection of freight trains somewhere in the middle that show off an entirely different set of interests. Somehow, with a liberal smattering of dots, lines and blocks of colour, Toby has managed to create images that border on the lifelike and leap off of the screen with a freight-weight force.

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    Have you ever had a really hot neighbour? If so you’ll know how fatiguing it is trying to find excuses to drop in; “I wanted to check you were ok in the snow/could I borrow some Dijon mustard/did you hear a ghost last night?” That’s kind of how I feel every time I find myself once again lurking on Jordy van den Nieuwendijk’s website, unable to explain my presence other than an all-consuming lust for his joyous work. Thankfully Jordy never lets me down. There’s a host of new updates since we posted about him last summer; from murals to magazine covers and portraits to prints, with Jordy showing impressively mature mastery of his signature style. Check out the sober architects portraits for Apartamento Magazine for example to see how this exciting Dutch talent is evolving.

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    Ryan Travis Christian first cropped up on the site way, way back when we used to run guest posts at the recommendation of Ann Toebbe. Crazily we’ve never followed up with him since, which is strange because we’re genuinely intoxicated by his extraordinary charcoal drawings that fuse the natural world with Disney faces, paranoia and pop culture and middle-American suburbia with a whole heap of really weird shit. We love it, and we love the fact that there’s someone out there using a medium as traditional and marginalised as charcoal to create something utterly surreal. Anyway, here’s some work from his last show that took place last year; it’s pretty astounding.

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    Laika, Astronaut Dog”, I hear you protest, “but dogs can’t go into space!” which is where you are in fact incorrect, because Owen Davey’s latest children’s book is actually based on a true story. According to reliable sources (Wikipedia) Laika was a stray mongrel found on the streets of Moscow who was chosen to be launched into space in the 1950s as part of Russia’s investigations into the impact of spaceflight of living creatures, officially earning the title Soviet Spacedog.

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    Pretty hard not to want to peer inside a book of cartoons that “reference both philosophy (Descartes, Hegel, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer) and pop culture (Conan the Barbarian, Peanuts, Suicidal Tendencies.)” One of our favourite artists James Jarvis is back with an absolute whopper of a comic, presented to the world by publishing heroes, Nieves. This 380 page book contains 365 drawings by James, made daily in 2012. Follow his know well-known characters as they grapple with everyday life and contemplate life’s meanings as they skateboard around the place. A must-read for anyone whose life has a Calvin and Hobbes-shaped hole that needs filling.

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    Ayumu Arisaka is one third of Japanese illustration and animation collective Saigo No Shudan (The Last Resort). Together they make bizarre animations that consist of paintings, drawings, plasticine models, found footage, household objects and more or less anything else they can get their hands on at the time. On her own Ayumu focusses mostly on her illustration work, developing drawing skills learned at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts. Her watercolour worlds are laden with strange anthropomorphic characters that seem to take stylistic inspiration from Manga as a starting point and then go off in completely unpredictable directions depending on her whims. The resulting imagery feels naive and childlike – completely without pretence – and is utterly refreshing.

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    Born in 1942 in Buenos Aires, José Muñoz has been making extraordinary illustrations and comic books since his early twenties, when he began assisting Francisco Solano López, a contemporary master of Argentine comics. Since that time he’s moved across Europe, living in London, Barcelona and finally settling in Italy where he still resides today, writing and illustrating his own stories and those of long-time collaborators for international publication.

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    Trust HORT to turn up only weeks into the new year with a shedload of work and slam it down on the table for us all to gawp at. While we’ve spent the tail-end of last year in steamed-up pubs literally drinking our money away, these design champs were busy collating a body of work that would take a normal studio about five times longer to complete.

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    Jack Sachs studied Illustration at Camberwell, graduating last summer full of youthful energy and with more than one string to his bow; his work ranges from the drawn and painted to digital animation, making him an excellent example of the versatility that can burst forth from the loins of a creative degree. He makes images about footballers, wizards, crisps and funny-looking people, with a stylistic tendency to lean towards the weird and grotesque – so he fits right in on It’s Nice That. We interviewed Jack about his working day, and you can have a read below!

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    I’m Ghost, the beautiful new collection of risograph prints by illustrator Merijn Hos, lives fully up to its name. Opening it is like peeping into the brain of an artist who continually sees characters in the most absurd of places, so it’s appropriate that the tomato-red prints make for something of a “spot the face” game, with tiny little googly eyes peeping out from candles, suspicious looking noses etched into teacups and what seems be a face buried in a bundle of foliage. Strangely entrancing and weird in the very best best way – and we wouldn’t expect anything less from Merijn.

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    The great thing about this job (apart from all the laughs) is that you can stumble across great content when you’re not really looking. So it was this weekend when I picked up a copy of the London Comedy Film Festival (LOCO) programme and was immediately drawn to the lovely illustrative typography which occurred throughout. It’s the work of Alex Fowkes, who I recognised when I got to his portfolio from the sublime typographic mural he did for Sony Music last year charting the label’s history. There’s so much to enjoy on his site though – from a bowling alley identity to publications, album artwork, T-Shirts and even a label for a rum bottle; Alex is a master at creating technically excellent visuals which crackle with personality but don’t ever feel forced in their fun-seeking.

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    Bjorn Rune Lie proves himself time and again to be an illustrator of exceptional prowess. His technical skills and traditional image-making processes require an acute understanding of print techniques and an ability to balance colours with remarkable skill. Coupled with that he has an unprecedented nous for creating characters that evoke a golden era of western history with their jazz-age attire.