Lett Yice shares an imaginary world through intricate scenes filled with plants and animals. Tiny humans witness vessels to another land, strange waterfalls, and a barren plains with oversized birds. Painted in colorful hues, each illustration tells a fantastical story that encourages us to fill in the blanks.
We all have our own ways of achieving ~zen~, and for me, it’s witnessing the beauty of grandiose natural landscapes. The vast, seemingly never-ending horizon reminds me of just how big the world is, dwarfing whatever worries occupy my brain. Maggie Chiang captures this feeling with exquisite snapshots of open spaces. Inky and drawn textures mimic desert scenes, rapid waters, and gray skies. In every image, the Earth looks magnificent and makes me want to find the nearest hiking trail!
There are some images that just stick with you, and Aster Hung‘s above illustration is one of them—the combination of beauty and horror is both compelling and thought-provoking. It’s one part of her series called Garden in the Dark, which features figures whose bodies are ravaged—by nature or by man—yet surrounded by the splendor of blooms. Aster describes it (and with her other work) as capturing “fantastical spaces with ties to more sobering realities.”
Aster sells her work through Society6.
One somewhat-recent trend that has emerged on Instagram is artist process videos. The idea is nothing new, obviously—but with the ease of posting video to Instagram, the short broadcasts are both informative and oddly soothing.
I love watching them for their hypnotic qualities, but it’s also a great way to learn a new techniques. Andrea Lauren, for instance, just posted a 3-video series on how she creates her charming layered prints. It showed me a printmaking technique that I wasn’t familiar with.
To start your week (or day) off on a creative note, here are 7 art process videos that will soothe your soul.
Illustrator Ayumi Takahashi grew up in China to an artistic family: her father was an industrial designer and painter while her step mom was a theme park designer. She didn’t stay in China for too long, however—when she was 12, she moved to Japan, studied in Thailand during high school, and then came to the United States for college. She’s since remained in America, bouncing from the West Coast to the Eastern seaboard.
Travel is at the heart of Ayumi’s work. “I try to take at least one month off a year to go to places and get inspired,” she tells North. “At the same time, I will learn the history, culture and art of those places. I believe that before you make art, you first need to go see the world. Being away from my studio gives me time and space to rethink and redevelop the kind of art I want to make.”
This global existence is reflected in her portraits. They focus on simple shapes with “concentrated sophistication,” combining intricate patterns with large fields of colors that are a collision of cultural influences.
French illustrator Juliette Oberndorfer has wowed me—for years—with her gorgeous landscape scenes. Using deep, rich colors and a vintage aesthetic, she creates compelling images that are snippets of fantastical stories. The moody pieces convey adventure, romance, and more—all with a folklore appeal.
Juliette produces many of these illustrations as concept art, but her style shies away from the video game artwork of muscly, gun-wielding men that I’m so used to seeing. Hers, instead, recalls the work of Mary Blair—especially her work for Alice in Wonderland during the 1950s.
Illustrator Melodie Stacey paints imaginary landscapes that remind us to stop and smell the flowers. Towering mountains and winding paths lead the way to blooms that are as tall as a person, showcasing a fantastical view of nature—but one that was clearly inspired by the splendor we witness in everyday life.
Despite that rosy (pun intended) interpretation, I like how dark these paintings are. The blue/black skies heighten the drama of each scene, as if the women are finding these flowers are on a secret quest in the middle of the night.
Melodie sells prints and originals through her Etsy shop.
Step into the strange and lovely lands imagined by Alexandra Dvornikova. The St. Petersburg-based illustrator creates these special, often liminal spaces featuring characters that look like they’re straight out of a fairy tale. Often dark in coloring and tone, they’re a reflection of the inner worlds that Alexandra finds interesting, such as neuroscience, psychiatry, and psychoanalyses. The brain-centric concepts invite us to project who we are onto these images and consider what their symbolism and meanings hold for us.
Alexandra sells a selection of her work through Society6.
A few weeks ago, I made a (very) short video about the book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland that gave you a brief introduction to the awesome illustrations that lie within. Well, I’ve made another video in that same vein—this time, we’re traveling through The Wonder Garden written by Jenny Broom and illustrated by Kristjana S. Williams.
The book “opens the gates of the Wonder Garden” and takes us through five of Earth’s habitats: the Amazon Rainforest; the Great Barrier Reef; the Chihuahuan Desert; the Black Forest; and the Himalayan Mountains. Each of its 80 illustrated animals are drawn with a technical hand and stunning attention to detail—the tiny lines are reminiscent of old scientific engravings. This vintage feel, however, is offset by the bold neon colors that permeate the pages. The hues put a contemporary spin on the entire thing.
These are some of my favorite spreads, below. When you read this book, get ready to LEARN. There’s a lot of information packed in those pages.
Miren Asiain Lora tells the stories of small people in grandiose places. Her faceless characters explore nature and all that goes along with it—sometimes this is good, and in other instances, it can get kinda hairy. One scene (above) shows figures shining a light to reveal all that hides in the jungle.
The overall feeling of these illustrations is mystery—we aren’t getting the full story of who Miren’s characters are or what they’re doing. This is the driving force behind her work—they’re meant to “convey the magic of everyday life, the charm of little moments that hold a secret to be deciphered.”
Miren sells as selection of archival prints through the Toi Gallery.