As Halloween barrels towards us (and I still don’t have a costume…), there’s one recently released book that is in keeping with the spooky month, but won’t scare you; it will make you celebrate the talents of women! Called Literary Witches, it’s a collaboration between writer Taisia Kitaiskaia and illustrator Katy Horan (previously). “Literary Witches came from the idea that to write or create art is to conjure,” Katy tells me in an email, “so it follows that female writers are witches wielding their particular brand of magick.”
Illustrator Holly Maguire creates intricate stylized portraits full of color, fun fashions, and my favorite—flowers. Produced using gouache paint, they have a decorative aesthetic with themes that emphasize tranquility and close friendship. Citing the likes of botanical gardens, street fashion, and mid-century children’s illustration as influences, she tells love print studio, “I like to use lots of green mixed with bright pops of color in my work. I’m very inspired by nature and textiles and I think this comes across a lot in my work too.”
Holly sells her work through her Etsy shop.
Illustrator Anna Hoyle is a collector of “words, phrases, and objects,” and she translates her passion into an ongoing series of book paintings. But these aren’t ordinary texts, though. They are gouache portraits of fictitious books with silly names that are inspired by a mid-century aesthetic. Some resemble children’s books of yesteryear, while others are remind me of prolific illustrators and designers like Dick Bruna.
Last year, I discovered the work of Lucie Brunellière and her illustrated publication, The Very Jungly Jungle Book. The colorful pages are, in fact, very jungly—there are more than 50+ animals hidden within! Now, she’s released a similarly busy book called The Great Diving. In it, we go under the sea in digital ocean illustrations, where we meet giant whales, friendly sea turtles, colorful schools of fish, and more. They inhabit different types of underwater landscapes, from the deep dark depths of the ocean to frigid waters punctuated with glaciers.
Illustrator Lisa Vanin grew up in a small town in Canada. There, she drew and sculpted animals and forest scenes; I’ve spoken before on the importance of acknowledging the things that you liked to do when you were young. Often, these interests circle back around and hold great meaning in your adult life. They did for Lisa!
Illustrator Sanae Sugimoto grew up around the sea and mountains of Tottori, Japan. After attending art school in Kyoto, she made that her permanent home in a studio armed with rich Sumi and a vibrant orange-reddish ink. Her surreal illustrations each tell a story—ones with the likes of larger-than-life dogs and friendly butterflies.
If I could sum up Kimberlie Wong’s illustration in an image, it would be the tranquil monkey sitting on a surfboard amidst a pink abyss (below). “I was born and raised on the island of Oahu,” the recent Art Center grad tells me in an email, “and that has inspired my aesthetic which is warm, whimsical, and uses a limited color palette.” Continuing, “I love to include nature, usually a tropical feel with animals.”
Citing “worn out brushes” as one of her favorite tools, Sofia Moore paints scenes that fuse abstracted landscapes with elegant figures and animals. The imaginary places burst with color, texture, and gorgeous shape design that builds rich, dense illustrations.
Women Who Draw continues to be one of my favorite things on the internet. It’s an open directory for female (and female-identifying) illustrators, and it increases the visibility of women working in illustration, arts, and cartooning—with emphasis placed illustrators of color, LBTQ+, and other minority groups.
That’s a long-winded way of introducing their new collaborative project that recently appeared on Topic. Called One Sky, co-founders Wendy MacNaughton and Julia Rothman gave 88 artists one simple instruction: look up at August 13, 2017 at exactly 12:00PM Eastern Standard Time. The selected artists then drew and painted what they saw.