When it comes to illustration, everyone has their own personal style. And across your career, developing that style and making it more representative of your own ‘inner voice’ should of course be your main priority, rather than slavishly following trends.
But that said, it’s still fascinating to see what’s happening in the wider world of illustration, and what kind of work is actually getting commissioned. So in this post, we round up 6 hot trends in illustration we’ve noticed spring up over the last 12 months.
If there’s a trend you think we’ve missed, though, please let us know in the comments below!
2016 has truly been the year of VR, and even illustrators have got in on the game, with the likes of (opens in new tab)sketching on a wall and then hopping straight into a HTC Vive headset to recreate the same live illustration (see the results in (opens in new tab)). We also saw Christoph Nieman transformed his cover illustration for The New Yorker magazine into a (opens in new tab), while new software such as (opens in new tab) for the Oculus Rift provided a way for digital illustrators everywhere to conjure up new worlds by drawing and painting in mid-air.
In many ways, the world of 2016 felt a little darker and disjointed, and this was reflected in a clear trend towards abstraction, subtraction and the surreal in the cutting edge corners of the illustration world. Examples of the trend can be seen in the weirdly disjointed and freeform work of (opens in new tab) (above); the blocky, lopsided cartoon characters of (opens in new tab); the ink and watercolour-based soft forms of (opens in new tab), and the beautifully trashy abstractions of (opens in new tab).
- 10 beautiful examples of illustration in print ads (opens in new tab)
Another way to view abstraction is to take a deliberately lo-fi approach to your illustration. And we’ve seen a fair bit of that about this year, from (opens in new tab), published by Breakdown Press (above) to Paula Bulling’s gloriously childlike colour-pencil drawings for (opens in new tab), the moody monoprints of (opens in new tab) and Marcus Oakley’s (opens in new tab).
2016 has been a year dominated by political upheaval, and illustrators have responded in full voice. Mark Leibovich’s illustration for the New York Times Magazine feature " (opens in new tab)?" was among those getting the most attention (you can read more about how that was put together (opens in new tab)).
But there were countless others, with Bob Staake’s (opens in new tab) for The New Yorker following Trump’s victory; an (opens in new tab) from a range of top illustrators, (opens in new tab) for The Guardian, and Oliver Kugler’s heartbreaking (opens in new tab) leading the way.
Inventive and eye-catching collages seem to be proving an increasingly popular way for illustrators to raise attention for themselves on Instagram. We’ve particularly enjoyed the simple but artful work of (opens in new tab) (above); the collage comics of (opens in new tab), the lo-fi creations of Jean Philippe Calver (opens in new tab), and the gorgeously handcrafted work of (opens in new tab).
A new generation is emerging for whom hardcore porn and obscene pics on social media are more likely to evoke a shrug than shock. So it’s not surprising that illustration that veers towards to the saucy and scatalogical is abounding. Examples of the trend can be seen in the work of Brooklyn illustrator (opens in new tab) (above), (opens in new tab) seedy Karma Sutra gifs, Teresa Orazio’s (opens in new tab) series, Jade Shulz’s collection of (opens in new tab) and Josh McKenna’s (opens in new tab) for Mother London.