2019's rising stars of illustration

Whether you're working as an illustrator or commissioning illustrations, it's important to keep an eye out for emerging talent. If you're the former, it's always useful to see what others are up to and pick up a little inspiration to help prevent yourself from getting stuck in a rut, while if you're the latter then you simply need to keep your finger on the pulse in order to publish work that excites rather than bores your audience.

Every year the illustration market expands with a new crop of illustrators, many of them bringing exciting new drawing techniques, aesthetics and fresh ideas with them. Here are eight talented illustrators that have caught our eye this year, each of whom we expect to see much more of in the future.

01. Freya Betts

2019's rising stars of illustration: Freya Betts

Freya Betts learned her craft making film posters but is now developing a looser style [Image: Freya Betts]

With a lifelong love of painting, drawing and films, Freya Betts left school at 18 to work for design agency XYi, where she created beautiful poster art with a strong helping of photorealism for a number of top studios. Now aged 22, she's shifted to freelancing full-time and has fallen in love with digital art, embracing Wacom and using the freedom granted by a digital setup to give her work a slightly less realistic but more 'fine art', painterly feel with looser brushstrokes.

02. Sammi

2019's rising stars of illustration: Sammi

Sammi's illustrations neatly combine the weird and the wonderful [Image: Sammi] 

Taiwan-based illustrator Hsian Hsia works under the name Sammi and creates wonderful and slightly surreal artwork inspired by a love of animals, plants and the natural world in general. With a look that echoes traditional Chinese art, but with an illustrative twist, Sammi's work is often based on inner emotions and usually features strange, unusual and expressive characters placed in weird and unexpected environments.

03. Eglantine Vittu

2019's rising stars of illustration: Eglantine Vittu

Eglantine Vittu works across various styles including children's books [Image: Eglantine Vittu] 

Born in France and based in Paris, Eglantine Vittu has held various jobs over the past few years, working as a compositing artist at an animation studio, an art teacher and even as a prop designer. Now she divides her time between freelancing as a motion designer and an illustrator working in a range of styles, from digital painting through to silkscreen printing, gouache and papercut work. Recently she illustrated a children's book on the problems of plastic pollution for Petita Demas, and she's currently working on a children's graphic novel, Matcha, for Papitou.

04. Tom Guilnard

2019's rising stars of illustration: Tom Guilnard

Simple lines and flat colours help Tom Guilnard's work pack a punch [Image: Tom Guilnard] 

A graduate of the Camberwell College of Arts, Tom Guilnard is another illustrator signed to Jelly London's Futures scheme and has quickly made a name for himself with simple, playful work created with an eye for minimalism. He claims to have become an illustrator by accident – he has a wide creative palette but found that illustration was the quickest way to get his message across – and works mostly with simple black lines and bold, flat colours, with a liberal helping of basketballs. His work might look simplistic to some, but it's already been enough to earn him a D&AD Pencil.

05. Adam Latham

2019's rising stars of illustration: Adam Latham

Adam Latham's fine art background shines through in his illustrations [Image: Adam Latham] 

Adam Latham's background is in fine art – he has a BA in it from Byam Shaw School of Art, as well as an MA in Painting from London's RCA – but in recent years he's become drawn to illustration. Working with Indian ink fineliners and watercolour, his work is incredibly detailed thanks to his combination of observational drawing and the more intuitive techniques of cartooning. Taking influence from natural history illustration, auction house photography and mid-20th kitsch among other things, he loves to mix up exotic tropes in a way that feels slightly wrong. 

06. Whooli Chen

2019's rising stars of illustration: Whooli Chen

Whooli Chen's work is often whimsical, sometimes unsettling [Image: Whooli Chen]  

Another Taiwan-based illustrator, Whooli Chen studied an MA in Illustration at London's University of the Arts, where she found her mused in the form of an urban fox. Currently represented by Central Illustration, Whooli combines delicate palettes and painterly layers to create charming, whimsical work that's often found on the covers of Little White Lies magazine, amongst other places.

07. WRK

2019's rising stars of illustration: WRK

WRK's unconventional tactile illustrations are bold and fun  [Image: WRK] 

For a striking alternative to the illustrative norms, take a look at the work of German duo Andrea Weber and Damoun Tamir, who specialise in stunningly tactile illustrations under the name WRK. Drawing on a wide range of everyday materials to create their bold and colourful imagery, including paper, assorted foodstuffs and papier maché, they take an unconventional and playful approach to their work, producing end results with a real sense of solidity and charm.

08. Olga Zalite

2019's rising stars of illustration: Olga Zalite

Olga Zalite is rising fast in the illustration world [Image: Olga Zalite] 

An illustrator from Saint Petersburg, Russia, who describes herself as a digital chef who turns ideas into delicious illustrations, Olga Zalite has hit the ground running in her illustration career. Previously employed in Russia as an interface designer, last year she decided to make the jump to working full-time as a freelance illustrator, telling stories through simple, fun and expressive vector characters. Having started out by finding work on Fiverr, she's since built up a following on Dribble and Instagram and has just relocated to San Francisco.

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Jim McCauley

Jim McCauley is a writer, performer and cat-wrangler who started writing professionally way back in 1995 on PC Format magazine, and has been covering technology-related subjects ever since, whether it's hardware, software or videogames. A chance call in 2005 led to Jim taking charge of Computer Arts' website and developing an interest in the world of graphic design, and eventually led to a move over to the freshly-launched Creative Bloq in 2012. Jim now works as a freelance writer for sites including Creative Bloq, T3 and PetsRadar, specialising in design, technology, wellness and cats, while doing the occasional pantomime and street performance in Bath and designing posters for a local drama group on the side.