The world of illustration never stays still for long. Aside from new illustration trends and illustration tools shaping the industry, there’s always new talent arriving on the scene, disrupting the zeitgeist with innovative techniques and new perspectives.
Sometimes it can be hard to keep up. So, whether you're looking for the best illustrators to hire, collaborate with or inspire you, we've gathered 10 of our favourite artists of 2017 here to whet your appetite.
Some are young guns, fresh out of college; others are older hands whose work might have recently hit a sweet spot, or dovetailed with wider trends.
Next year, issue 276 of Computer Arts (on sale 6th February) will reveal its definite Illustrator Hotlist of 2018. In the meantime, here are 10 of the best illustrators of 2017...
01. Fionna Fernandes
Based in her home city of Sydney, Australia, Fionna Fernandes draws distinctive portraits for clients in fashion, editorial and advertising. With a client list ranging from My Little Pony and Nickelodeon to Toyota and Fanta, her bright and colourful stylings have been much in demand of late.
Combining digital and hand-generated marks, Fernandes uses an Artline pen for her line work, and acrylic paint to come up with the light-hearted patterns she often uses as backgrounds.
Recently, she’s been experimenting with collaged backdrops and adding stickers to the compositions.
Juliette Lott, associate director of Illustration Web, which represents her, describes her work as “playful, fun and energetic. Fernandes’ work usually features female models in fashion scenarios, but she’s just as adept at depicting men, and animals too. There’s a youthful flavour to her aesthetic, and she enjoys drawing attention to certain aspects of the female face – the eyes, lips and hair – using brighter colours and patterns. This gives her portraits a unique feel and some extra punch.”
Born and raised in Romania, Andreea Cristina Dinu now works as an illustrator and graphic designer in her Hamburg studio Summerkid. Although nowadays her main focus is now illustration, she continues to develop her digital and print graphic design skills of 10 years and counting.
Her cartoon-like illustrations are brimming with life and positivity, never fall into colour palette cliches, and often border on the surreal. Clients include the Süddeutsche Zeitung Familie (South German newspaper family), P Magazine, SUB25 Magazine and Art Safari 2017 Visuals, the yearly Bucharest art festival.
Andrej Kiszling, design director of Owl Illustration, which represents her, describes Dino as a “super up-and-coming talent, characteristic with vivid semi-abstract style, really quite something new and fresh.”
Originally from Bratislava, Slovakia, Maldo - a self-described “illustrator and creative maverick” - now works globally out of Prague, Czech Republic.
Maldo has honed his illustrative style over time, simplifying it and taking it back to basics; nowadays it’s characterised by simple, bold linework, a sketchy look, a limited colour palette, and often using negative space.
With clients including Time Inc, Travel + Leisure, Surf Office, and Festival de Cannes, he’s developed a nice line in designing for apparel brands and music labels, as well as editorial illustration and painting murals.
04. Jesús Sotes
Based in Pamplona, Spain, Jesús Sotés Vicente is a self-taught illustrator and graphic designer. His work makes strong use of shapes, the influence of folk traditions, and a love of foliage to create illustrations for editorial, advertising and book publishing that seem at once both familiar and original. It’s won him a string of commissions for book jackets, as well as big-name clients like British Airways and Hermes.
05. Giacomo Bagnara
Giacomo Bagnara is an Italian illustrator who trained as an architect but ended up discovering a talent for editorial illustration, winning him clients such as Sony, The New Yorker, The New York Times, and Die Zeit.
His work is simple enough to work well on digital and social platforms. But there’s an underlying intelligence and thoughtfulness to it too, raising it about the norm and lending an air of understated sophistication to the brands who harness it.
D&AD judge Andrea Chronopoulos says of Bagnara: “He always finds smart and elegant solutions in his illustrations. His images are essential but with small details that give a strong personality to all the elements.”
06. Cristina Daura
Cristina Daura is an illustrator and comic artist based in Barcelona, Spain. Her work is balanced and symmetrical, but never boring; two-dimensional, yet nicely textured. Most immediately, it is defiantly bright, colourful and upbeat, and dominated by a trademark colour palette that makes her work instantly identifiable.
As well as a flurry of regional magazines, brands and festivals, Daura has done editorial and commercial work for the likes of The New York Times, New York Times Sunday Review and Penguin Books. “Her work is rigorous but also playful, with surreal and impactful compositions full of recurring elements that define her personal style,” says Chronopoulos.
07. Olivia Mathurin
It’s common to find an illustrator who’s technically skilled yet produces little that’s new, engaging or original. That’s certainly NOT the case with Olivia Mathurin.
The work of the London based illustrator, who graduated from the Royal College of Art this year with an MA in Visual Communication, doesn’t shy away from expressing a social and cultural political point of view. Giving a unique take on everyday city scenes, such as passengers on a bus or customers in a fast-food chicken takeaway, her work is social commentary at its most vibrant and challenging.
08. Hani Abusamra
Hani Abusamra is an illustrator and visual artist based in London who is inspired by science, print-making, comic books and skateboards. Much of his work takes serious topics and puts a quirky, colourful and pop culture-infused twist on them.
“Hani’s work cleverly frames and layers pattern and iconic symbols with skilled figurative imagery creating seductive scenes, serious in content and pleasing to the eye,” says Lizzie Finn, course leader in MA Illustration & Visual Media at London College of Communication, UAL, which he recently completed. “His intricately constructed eight colour A0 screen print ‘They Were Allowed to Look Back (They Would Not be Turned to Stone) was a hit at the LCC postgraduate shows in December.”
09. Mr William Draw
Mr William Draw is an ex-product designer turned fashion illustrator. Based in Chile, he was selected as part of 200 best illustrators in the world by Lurzer's Archive 2016/17.
“My work is a blend of oniric and symbolic elements with a surrealist aura,” he says, “where I combine handmade and digital techniques to show a universe where fashion acquires different meanings.”
There are common themes in his illustrations, such as silhouette cutouts and empty, circular heads. But while reductive art can be often austere and boring, his inspired use of colour, deep attachment to his subject and general sense of joie de vivre creates an inspired synergy that makes each piece different, fascinating and compelling.
Decur is an artist and illustrator from Santa Fe in Argentina whose children’s book-style art evoke times past while somehow remaining strikingly modern. The phrase “weird and wonderful” may be an overused one, but in this case it perfectly describes his quiet and whimsical style.
“Decur’s fantastical world rendered in acrylics and watercolour has captured him a growing cult following both in Argentina and abroad, and an increasing amount of work in commercial illustration,” says Linda Neilson, director of Galería Mar Dulce, Buenos Aires.