10 amazing illustrators working in pen and ink

We take a look back at some of the best pen and ink illustrators of the past, as well as some top names of today.

Pen and ink was historically a popular medium for illustrators in the days before CMYK printing technology. This limitation led illustrators to focus on drawing and block colour in simple black and white.

The first half of the century produced some astonishing pen and ink illustrators working for book and magazine publishers. The tradition has continued to thrive in contemporary illustration with huge crossovers in style between the two generations.

Here I've complied 10 illustrators' work, grouped in two sections - 'The Oldies' and 'The Newbies' - to inspire and celebrate this amazing medium.

The Oldies

01. David Stone Martin

Martin is best known for his jazz-related artwork

Best known for his jazz album pen and ink illustrations, David Stone Martin was born in the US in 1913 and died in 1992.

His work is immediate and vibrant

He produced more than 100 illustrations for Mercury, Asch, Disc and Dial record companies. His brilliant quick and gestural drawings are characterised by their immediacy and vibrancy.

02. Edward Ardizzone

Ardizzone is massively influential in the realm of children's illustration

A children’s book illustrator and artist who has influenced a generations of new illustrators, Edward Ardizzone was born in the UK in 1900. He quit his tedious city desk job to attend life classes at Westminster School of Art and had his first solo show in 1928.

His work is evocative and lyrical

He has illustrated many books including ‘In a Glass Darkly’ and his own ‘Tim’ series’. His illustration are always evocative with a beautiful sense of light and lyrical line work.

03. Terence Greer

A typical Penguin cover illustration from Terence Greer

Terence Greer was born in Surrey in 1929 and studied painting at St Martin’s and the Royal Academy. Between the 1950s and1980s he was a playwright and illustrator working for the likes of Penguin and The Radio Times.

His illustrations were stark, amusing and eccentric

These illustrations for Penguin Books have a brilliant linear abstract quality, comic and eccentric in their characterisation.

04. David Gentleman

Published in the 1950s, Gentleman's cover for this cookbook looks surprisingly contemporary

David Gentleman was born in the UK in 1930 and still works as an illustrator. He studied at The Royal College of Art and has worked on many well known projects including the iconic mural in Charing Cross Station.

Gentleman studied at the Royal College of Art under Edward Bawden and John Nash

His cover for the cookbook Plats de Jour was published in 1957. What is quite striking about it is the influence it has on the current generation of illustrators - it looks as if it could have been published yesterday.

05. John Sewell

John Sewell created a number of cover illustrations for Penguin Books

Born in 1926, John Sewell studied at Hornsey Art School (1948-51) and the Royal College of Art (1951-54).

Swell illustrated a series of Scott Fitzgerald titles for the publisher

He became Head of Graphic Design for the BBC in 1955, whilst also working as a freelance illustrator. His expressive ink character drawings were perfect for Penguin Books.

The Newbies

06. Sarah Maycock

Her 'Bear' portrait was the best selling print at Somerset House's ‘Pick Me Up’ event in 2012

Sarah Maycock is an illustrator living and working in Hastings Old Town by the Sea. She has racked up an impressive list of clients including Waitrose, The FT and the BBC.

Maycock was Since chosen by It’s Nice That as one of the most promising graduates of 2011

Her main medium is Indian ink and is inspired by landscapes, especially bleak ones, animals and cityscapes. Her main aim, she says, is ‘to capture all in just one brush mark’.

07. Tim Mcdonagh

The artist has a fascination with animals

Tim McDonagh is a freelance illustrator living and working in Brighton, East Sussex.

McDonagh's love of detail is evident through his meticulous line work

His pen and ink drawings are mindbogglingly meticulous and detailed, finishing up in Photoshop for final touches of colour.

08. Le Gun

The group is internationally recognised for their enigmatic installations and art shows

Le Gun is an experimental art collective established in 2004. Clients include Paul Smith, British Fashion Award and Duffer of St George.

Their work is almost always monochrome

Almost always based in black and white, and often using the medium of installation: their work is an exciting blend of punk, occult and idiosyncratic imagery.

09. Laura Carlin

Laura has won a number of awards for her work

Laura Carlin is a London-based Illustrator who is represented by the excellent Heart agency.

Carlin works in an advisory role with the development of Quentin Blake’s House of Illustration

Her illustrations often portray the human figure and are often quirky and humorous, but always beautifully drawn with subtle washes of ink.

10. Stuart Patience

The artist's clients include E4, Wallpaper and London College of Fashion

Stuart Patience is a London based illustrator and graduated with a degree in Illustration and Animation from Kingston University.

His work is weird, but wonderfully detailed

His work is hugely detailed, with surreal narratives often involving strange situations, animals and odd characters.

Words: Anna Wray

Anna Wray is an illustrator/author and a visiting lecturer on the Ba(Hons) Illustration at Cambridge School of Art.