Illustration Archive

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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.

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    This is something of a niche reference so please forgive me if I lose you, but do you remember that episode of The Magic Schoolbus where the bus shrinks to molecular size and travels inside Ralphie’s body? Well Kraftfolio’s recent project for Bit Hotel in Barcelona reminds me hugely of that; together with Karina Eibatova and Lesha Galkin, Edgor Kraft who heads up the studio painted the walls with a mural which looks exactly like what I imagine the inside of an illustrator’s brain to look like if you were to shrink and then travel inside it. Covered in ambiguous shapes, squiggles, colours and forms, it’s quite the transformation for the space, turning it from a plain white box into a highly original, almost biological-looking room. Just like inside Ralphie.

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    You know what they say about the tip of the iceberg? Well, these whimsical drawings by Polish artist Marta Orzel give a whole new meaning to the concept of what lies beneath. Her alien landscapes, which contain just a dash of Björk and a splash of Matisse’s cut-outs, are magnificent and look like they’ve just fallen out of a dream.

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    Swedish illustrator Siri Ahmed Backström describes herself first and foremost as a storyteller, and judging from the projects in her portfolio, of which there are no small number, it’s the fine art of creating narrative illustration to accompany a tale that she’s so good at. These images are from a book called Syskondagen, which translates as “Sibling’s Day,” and tells the story of two siblings spending a day together. The imagery is unlike anything I’ve seen before; a gloriously tactile-looking mishmash of textures, colours and shapes, with triangle print patterns on jumpers and checked tights all drawn in charmingly intricate detail. Illustration for children’s books comes into its own when you can glean the vague shape of the story without any text at all, and the fact that this is true here is an excellent testament to the quality of Siri’s work.

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    Going back over our archive of posts on Nathaniel Russell you’ll find we’ve featured him – directly or indirectly – a total of nine times. This is the tenth. Sometimes we’ve looked at his multicoloured space capes, other times it’s been his giant drawings of potted plants, if not his exploration of wooden cut-outs, and there was one occasion where we asked him to write some nice words for our magazine. This time we’d like to look at his illustrations of California and marvel at his talent and the sheer variety of his work.

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    It’s been two years since Mike Perry designed a Hawaiian shirt for us when we teamed up with ASOS, and now that we’re getting out this year’s Hawaiian tees we thought it the right time to catch you up on what the Brooklyn-based illustrator has been up to. And he’s been producing some very exciting, kaleidoscopic stuff for some great clients, and, as always, has found many surprising ways to spill out of the page, sneaking his illustrations into everyday objects and surroundings.

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    Sometimes we genuinely find some of the best creative work for the site while hanging out in the pub – in this case by mooching about in my local last Saturday night. I ran into an old friend from university who still lives with Liam Cobb (another old friend from college) a comic book artist who’s spent the last few years working absurdly hard on his storytelling and image-making, recently producing the beginnings of a futuristic dystopian opus, drawn with the flair of Moebius and balanced with witty, understated dialogue that makes the apocalypse seem really quite drab.

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    Ville Savimaa was last on the site a jaw-dropping five years ago when our director Alex Bec described his work as “gaseous.” It’s not as pejorative an adjective as it might seem in this case, as years later it still seems to suit the whimsical shapes and cloud-like forms that the Finnish illustrator is such a dab hand at.

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    The very pleasingly-named Alain Pilon (say it aloud with a precocious French accent, it’s lovely) isn’t an illustrator we were familiar with until this week, but his super-nice work begs attention and we’re duly delivering it. He creates characters who, in spite all of their sweet naiveté, still capture something of the anthropological awareness that makes simply-illustrated portraits so interesting. His style is caught in a not unpleasant spot somewhere between the quaint, minimal children’s book illustration of yore and a far more contemporary slant on comic book arts, with half-tone dots and monochromatic palettes a’plenty. The result is aesthetically pleasing and easy to digest, without losing out on any of the inherent humour. Which is a mighty impressive feat, don’t you think?

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    Lovely work here from Israeli illustrator Shimrit Elkanati. Not only does her name sound like someone who has been brought up in the forest by a bunch of folklore-loving elves, but her work gives off the same vibes. What’s so great about her portfolio is the way she can hop from mystical work with a kind of Studio Ghibli feel to it, straight to illustrations for The New York Times that depict modern people in comical, everyday situations. That’s when you know someone’s really good, when they can just as easily and effectively draw an intelligent, appealing picture for a child as they could for your average, grumpy adult.

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    We haven’t caught up with Jan Van Der Veken since January 2013 – there was that massive magazine article we wrote on him, but that hardly counts. Since we last spoke he’s had his first monograph published with Gestalten, started a family and set up stock illustration archive Lekstock, which allows users to download great imagery from Belgian illustrators as easily as they would photography. Lots of changes! But what hasn’t changed is Jan’s unwavering skill as an image maker and master of the clear line – a skill that has the ability to delight us even though we’ve long been familiar with his work.

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    I’ve prattled on before about what a great talent I think Connor Willumsen is. The American comics artist is still so young and yet seems capable of producing the most extraordinary compositions and unorthodox narratives within a body of bizarre comics. His draughtsmanship alone is enough to incite serious excitement, but his unusual use of composition is what really gets our juices flowing. Recently he’s been experimenting heavily with the use of broken grids, chopping and changing composite squares of imagery to create unsettling and disorientating collages that tell whole stories in a single image. A couple of them feel like traditional satirical pieces, pulled from the pages of an old MAD magazine, and then rearranged into something altogether more sinister. Striking stuff!

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    In case you were wondering (which you probably were) what Kyle Platts has been up to recently, the answer is rather a lot. Don’t worry, he’s still churning out drawings that resemble the illegitimate love-child of the Bash Street Kids and Beavis and Butthead at an unstoppable rate. His latest lump of work is, satisfyingly, much like his old work but even better – the detail is tighter, the colours and brighter and his choices of materials are getting increasingly varied. We caught up with Kyle for a chat about residencies, Pick Me Up, his new work and some fellow artists he’s excited about at the moment.

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    We first wrote about Sam Coldy back in the summer of 2012, when he designed a range of lenticular images cleverly incorporating type design to make some of the snazziest posters we’d ever seen. It’s safe to say that he’s been busy since then, churning out new work left right and centre. Sam’s proven himself to be a flexible chap, happily straddling the categories of illustration, art and design with a colourful aesthetic that you could spot from a mile off. His delightful knack for creating vibrant, retro images with the scantest of shapes has landed him plenty of gigs creating album covers and artwork for musicians, with fantastic results; check out his backgrounds for all-girl soul band Juce below.

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    Annu Kilpelainen has long been providing the happy splodge of rainbow colour on our grey London lives, and the new work we trundled across on her site has us wondering if the inside of her brain isn’t entirely coloured in tropical brights and sumptuous neons. Her new work bears no small resemblance to a summer water fight, on your front drive, all dripping hair and hand-me-down cotton dungarees soaked to the skin, except these scenes have technicolour cars where your Dad’s old brown Volvo should be. As ever, we’re huge fans of her vivid style and we’ll be even more into it when the sun comes out. Finally.

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    In the four years since we first featured him, Mitch Blunt has transformed from a fresh-faced graduate with a penchant for traditional print processes into an editorial illustration maven whose images are in demand by the most elite publishers of breaking news. This demand is the result of Mitch’s innate ability to tell complex and often politically charged stories with the simplest of imagery; analogising the current climate in Ukraine with a rowdy bear or transforming handcuffs into a pair of swimming goggles to accompany a story about an Olympic athlete’s fall from grace. Their universality means they’re always a welcome addition the the accompanying editorials, summarising succinctly what a journalist may take hundreds of words to communicate. Always a pleasure Mitch!

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    Josh McKenna (jshmck to his mates) is in his final year studying illustration at Falmouth where he’s become “A passionate screen-printer, competent in Photoshop and Illustrator,” taking inspiration from the "tropical way of life.” What this means is that Josh’s work is awash with pastel-shaded images of busty women sunning themselves by modernist poolsides and gentlemen in panama hats conducting shady business in angular rooms. Alongside the rich visuals there’s also a growing understanding of editorial imagery in Josh’s portfolio, something we’re excited to see him develop in the future.

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    Brooklyn-based illustrator and graphic designer Daniel Zender has something of a fixation upon things that go bump in the night; so much so that he has created an entire project devoted to them. Light Terrors is a series of images depicting dream-like states and the nightmares that accompany them, from losing teeth to drowning in a mysteriously water-filled bed and being melted by a spooky-looking witch. His bold, bright, graphic shapes may undermine the scariness of the characters featured but they sure are nice to look at, and his client list, which includes publications from Bloomberg Businessweek and the New York Times Book Review, proves that we aren’t the only ones who think so.

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    Raymond Lemstra is one of those illustrators who can do no wrong in our eyes; his incredibly fine detail, careful layers of shading and seamless combination of totemic robots with folkloric imagery makes for one hell of a package. So obviously we’re enormous fans of his new book Big Mother, published by Nobrow.

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    Another Flickr prodigy rears its multicoloured head in the form of Nadine Redlich, a German illustrator whose work is a dangerous cocktail of hilarious and magical puerility. I did some quick digging around for some more information on Nadine and came across a short bio of her on German illustration blog Rotopol Press: “Redlich was born around 1879. In her early life she began her studies at the Fachhochschule Düsseldorf in the field of communication design. She was able to end these studies with a diploma after more than 100 years.”

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    Sam Vanallemeersch’s website proclaims that he “draws for you” – and what an honour that is. These images are updates from the man who had the most viewed article on It’s Nice That in 2013, and you can see why. Not many illustrators or artists can boast a portfolio so rich, unique and powerful, but Sam’s got this ability to transport us into his chaotic world with just one glance at one of his hectic, jittery scenes. Interestingly, his piece of work for International Women’s Day is aesthetically very different to his trademark style, but it’s just more proof that Sam is exceptionally talented. His drawings give you the feeling that you’re at once terrified, lost and out of your depth in a strange apocalyptic land, but you’re happy to be there because to be honest, Sam’s world shits all over the reality of our own.