16 Amazing Illustrators to Follow
Illustrations were once the primary means of communicating powerful visual messages to a wide audience. But with the development of photography, the popularity of this art form faded. Over the last few years though, illustration has been making a steady comeback, gaining importance again. And for a good reason. Illustrators provide us with authentic, personalized, and recognizable solutions, even more so than photographers. Illustration allows us to express all of our ideas, no matter how abstract they may be. It can breathe life into any project and help spark people’s imagination. Because of all that, illustrations have been widely used everywhere, from explainer videos and educational content, to animation projects, diagrams, and various other types of graphic content.
The understanding of this art form and the approach to it have changed over time, but the way we use illustration has remained pretty much the same. Illustrations can be utilized to describe and explain things, criticize people or ideologies, or simply adorn projects. They also help elicit an emotional response from observers and stir their thoughts.
With so many creative people out there, both new and already established, it wasn’t easy to pick out 16 top illustrators. But we’re certain you’ll draw some inspiration and even perhaps learn a trick or two from each of the names on our list:
We hope you’ll enjoy our selection!
Willian Santiago is a Brazilian illustrator known for the playful and lively colors typical of his work. He uses bold color palettes and tropical motifs to depict his picturesque surroundings. Fairytale-like themes, wondrous flora, and magical fauna lure you to dive right in and explore the exotic landscapes he beautifully illustrates.
His mystical black silhouettes adorned in floral patterns bring back memories of Vogue’s first illustrated covers, back in the early 20th century. In fact, that trend has made a big comeback this year. Italian Vogue has switched back to using illustrations on their cover pages in order to reduce the environmental impact of photography .
You can recognize Fran Labuschagne’s illustrations for their lovely, clearly defined, elongated physiognomies and pastel colors. She mainly draws circular geometric shapes, which breathe perfectionism into her illustrations. Even though Fran relies mostly on seemingly sterile forms, she manages to skillfully express the characters’ warmth and their emotions. That’s exactly where her authentic way of illustrating shines the brightest.
Daniel Barreto is a Mexican graphic artist, illustrator, and animator. His vivid illustrations look like they come straight from Jung’s theories of subconscious and lucid dreams. Combining energetic color palettes with elements of surrealism, he creates imaginary landscapes and liquid, faceless human figures interacting with nature. His work is the creation of someone with a child-like curiosity but who possesses the technique of a true professional.
Coming from the coast of the Adriatic Sea, Milica Golubovic is an impressive Montenegrin illustrator. She seamlessly transfers the Mediterranean spirit and the beauty of the environment in which she grew up to her terrific illustrations. She creates a warm and magical atmosphere by combining herbal motifs with textures and colors resembling the graphics of ancient Japanese artists. The characters in her illustrations look pensive, often observing and exploring their surroundings. That additionally contributes to creating a harmonious, mystical, and dream-like atmosphere.
The illustrations of the South Korean illustrator Kyutae Lee look as if they were kissed by a dreamy pink light, the same light with which the setting sun illuminates the clouds. The forms Lee uses make his works look realistic, but when paired with his specific drawing technique and color choices, his illustrations appear meditative. His color perspectives and the fact that he deliberately leaves some parts of his compositions unfilled are both typical of Japanese painters. Lee’s drawings radiate the calming atmosphere of the day’s end or its beginning seen through the artist’s eyes.
The witty Kobie Nieuwoudt and her cheerful, short animations are guaranteed to evoke emotions in viewers. Her phenomenal work looks like some type of psychoanalysis. She questions herself and her emotions, and analyzes everyday life situations. Sometimes she even dissects forms and motifs like a biologist, and so, for example, illustrates each body part in a figure separately. Kobie deeply analyzes every situation and object, and masterfully depicts the movement of her dancers and other characters in great detail. Her drawing skills burst to life through her figurative illustration and her depiction of floral motifs and landscapes.
Wooden crayons are Kobie’s main drawing tool. They give her illustrations a touch of naivety, but also allow her to showcase her fantastic skills. And that’s where the true character of her work really shows. Everything she does is witty, cheerful, but at the same time also very intimate and emotional.
Linnch is known for his unique style and the gift to feel the spirit of the time in which he lives. An extraordinarily strong sense of narration and satirical characters typical of consumerism are the main elements of his work. He depicts everyday life situations filtered through his particular lens.
Linnch has boldly narrowed down his color palette to just a few hues, which makes his work similar to that of lithographic artists. He approaches each subject and character critically, but also with humor, which is his biggest strength. Linnch is an unquestionably authentic illustrator using uncommon visual language in a counter-cultural climate.
Victoria Semykina is a master of lines and proportions. With her free-hand drawings, she manages to bring characters into focus and perfectly illustrate any movement, making it all look like a frozen movie frame. She spends a lot of time observing people on the streets and learning about their character, which reflects in her work and in the way she depicts different characters. Victoria also often illustrates marine motifs, boats and sailors in particular.
If you ever go on a stroll in Bologna, she might notice you and draw you on one of her croquis drawings.
Lisk Feng’s work demonstrates her extraordinary talent to narrate stories through illustrations. Her works beautifully depict different types of situations and vividly illustrate a variety of stories and fairytales. All of her illustrations look special because Lisk isn’t afraid of experimenting with various perspectives and themes. Her playful and somewhat comic approach to illustration shines through her work and you can tell she’s doing it all with great gusto.
Vedran Klemens is an impressive illustrator from Croatia. He takes his time creating funny characters, and studies them well before he draws them. Vedran’s work clearly demonstrates his immense dedication to creating amazing illustrations.
He’s incredibly skillful in introducing the beauties and the culture of his home country to the world. His illustrations are warm and romantic, like old Yugoslav postcards. Pointillism and naïve art are the two directions he expertly navigates. Vedran’s work is a place where old and new art styles collide and create miraculous, fresh, hybrid places. This shows us that artists don’t stick blindly to an art style, but tend to take things to a whole new level by bringing their own authenticity to the table and making their works unique.
The artist behind the La Borrego Viuda pseudonym is Mafer López, a young illustrator who masterfully depicts Mexican beauty and culture. She draws graceful female characters with accentuated silhouettes in warm, earthy tones. Mafer introduces us to Mexican women in everyday situations and shows us how they find beauty in loneliness and melancholy. She is a terrific illustrator in the making and there’s not a single doubt in our minds that she’ll continue to enchant us with more arresting works.
Boris Kuzmanovic is an interesting illustrator who doesn’t necessarily stick to one style or follow any trends, but he rather boldly experiments with different materials, collages, and techniques. He cleverly avoids the commercial approach to art, which allows him to be free when creating his art pieces, which he boldly adorns with some Monty Python-esque elements. His characters are irresistibly lovely, imbued with humor, and adored by the kids who enjoy numerous picture books Boris has illustrated.
Drawing photorealistic portraits isn’t exactly the most popular art form, however the illustrator Hsiao Ron Cheng has shown us how captivating these artworks can be. Her tranquil and technically brilliant portraits are paired with magical, pastel backgrounds. She effortlessly creates the sensation of volume in her works and makes smooth transitions between different sections of each art piece. Hsiao sets hyper-realistic imaginary faces outside of reality, in a heavenly atmosphere. Her characters look harmonious, surrounded with soothing silence, much like icons in medieval art.
Andi is an illustrator whose work reminds us of the things we forgot while growing up, such as the importance of playfulness and spontaneity in whatever we do. He brings us back to the times when ponds seemed like a sea, animals could speak, and our favorite tree was our second home. His illustrations encourage children to read, and his characters carry the serenity and the adventurous spirit typical of Tom Sawyer. Andi’s work is filled with amazing details and interesting compositions.
We’re sure Andi’s time is yet to come, and that we’ll enjoy his wondrous art and maybe even see it come to life in animated movies, because his characters look more than ready to run and fly.
Jorge Roa is a Chilean artist whose illustrations represent proper visual poetry. Thanks to his realistic approach to art, he manages to create wonderful, eclectic scenes. What makes his illustrations special is that they’re mostly done in pastel colors, using calm lines, but at the same time, they appear rebellious and with an attitude. Jorge can perfectly capture a moment, whatever that moment may be – a child drawing on the floor, a sunkissed woman passing through a hall, etc. His works have a cinematic vibe and look as if he paused a movie at the perfect and the most important frame.
Liam Cobb is unafraid to compromise and observe scenes from different points of view, and these are some of his biggest strengths. He makes the perfect use of linear perspective when drawing architectural motifs reflecting sunlight or wrapped in shadowplay.
When you look at the common themes of his works, you realize there’s a dystopian element in his art depicted using toxic color palettes. That sort of particular sensibility makes his illustrations appear somewhat metaphysical and allows him to create alternate universes.
When it comes to art, we don’t really need to have any technical or even historical knowledge in order to experience its worth. In fact, the true value of art lies in awakening our emotions and allowing us to experience the diversity and dynamics of the world. Illustrations stand as a link between our inner worlds and the reality that surrounds us. They help us understand the power of imagination and let us effortlessly visit the worlds and places we can’t otherwise reach. Illustrations also allow us to express ourselves and attract other people’s attention, and the works of these sixteen top illustrators are all the proof you need of how powerful this art form can be and how diverse its usage is.