Once again, Kirsten Sims has captured an incredible energy in her paintings that recall the spontaneity of pencil sketches. Her latest series was created for the Turbine Art Fair in Johannesburg, and they feature vibrant outdoor and indoor scenes that act as a yin and yang—the beauty of solitude, as well as the hustle and bustle of large groups. Each is lively in its application of paint; the colors swirl and mix on canvas, diffusing and abstracting the illustrations. It’s as if they represent one long, fantastic dream… or better yet, a memory!
If you peruse Aimee Bee Brooks‘ Instagram, you’ll find that her sketchbook is full of delicate drawings with a retro sensibility. In particular, I’m fond of the illustrative ladies who don vintage hairstyles and fashions. Created with a light hand, the portraits seem to flicker, like a memory you can’t quite grasp onto in your mind—they’re fleeting and poignant.
For the past week, I’ve continually admired the cut paper illustrations of Irene Servillo. It might come as no surprise—after all, her work is crafted out of collage, my favorite medium. Using cut paper and drawing, Irene creates stylized figures and scenes by employing colorful, eye-pleasing shapes that intermingle throughout the composition.
Kailey Whitman illustrates spell-binding scenes of nature. Intricately detailed and visually complex, the layers of flora and fauna draw you into these snippets of stories, which act as a fantasy for a city dweller like me. Long grass, fields of flowers, and bodies of water seem like distant relatives—so Kailey’s work is especially nice to view, especially when your windows overlook concrete.
Kailey sells a selection of her work on Society6.
Illustrator Diana Cojocaru first caught my attention with her collection entitled Human Wings. Using water-based media, she lets the vibrant hues have a mind of their own as they bleed into one another and create a dreamlike feel. Hands are a thematic occurrence in her work, and about the series, she explains it with one single quote by Sanober Khan: “Your hand touching mine—this is how galaxies collide.”
In her Beyond project, Diana was inspired by a passion for flowers, hidden messages, and again—hands!
Diana’s current project started as a challenge to herself.
“I’ve always considered that I’m not able to draw portraits, with everything I’ve created so far revolving around abstract concepts,” she tells me an in an email. “Even though my style is a clumsy one, I want to bring my illustrations into the fashion area and to communicate through the clumsiness itself that every woman has a beauty which is often hidden behind peculiar features, far from the stereotypes.”
It’s that wonderful time of year again when #Inktober (previously, 2014 and 2015) makes an appearance on social media. If you’re unfamiliar with this annual tradition, it’s a creative challenge for artist and illustrators to ink something during the month of October. Many people choose to post something everyday, but Jake Parker writes, “You can do it daily, or go the half-marathon route and post every other day, or just do the 5K and post once a week. What ever you decide, just be consistent with it. INKtober is about growing and improving and forming positive habits, so the more you’re consistent the better.”
While I don’t participate, I love seeing what other people come up with! Jake provides some prompts, but you’re totally welcome to go off script and create your own themes. Here are 5 illustrators who showcase the possibilities with #Inktober.
For this year’s #Inktober, Julia Bereciartu is painting “spontaneous portraits in ink and watercolor” every two days or so. Composed of people and animals, these small artworks are for sale through her online shop.
While Gina stuck with the striking black and white combo, August Wren lets her inky hues explode over the page. The carefree fluidity and diffused edges are created with both a dip pin as well as brush.
In addition to #Inktober, August also creates a painting a day. She’s prolific!
Designy illustrator Gian Wong uses #Inktober to make sure his “trad[itional] hands aren’t getting rusty,” His bold, typography-centric pieces feature letters as the burst from bold patterns and colors.
Kathleen Marcotte created an apt theme for this month—horror movies! Her black and white drawings are a much less scary reinterpretation of some seriously spooky films.
Earlier this fall, Anja Sušanj shared a series called City, based on a book by Alessandro Baricco. The text influenced her greatly through the years, and was part of the inspiration for these drawings. “City is also the name of my graduation project that tries to recreate the mysterious and whimsical world of Gould, a child genius,” she explains.
The surreal illustrations are created with graphite, and they’re are a beautiful use of the material. Through her line work and shading Anja has communicated movement and drama, as people stand in fishbowls, navigate through the stomach, and wear a house around their head. Each is intriguing and begs a closer look.
Self-taught illustrator Jérémy Combot says that he’s “guided by passion” in creating his fashion-centric portraits. The colorful and intricately detailed—just look at all those lines!—feature a dizzying array of motifs that vibrate when placed next to one another. “Mixing patterns that are not supposed to fit at first sight makes my work very interesting and fun at the end,” he explains.
Jérémy also enjoys fusing seemingly disparate cultural influences. “I like to work on the mix of genres, reflected through my work,” he writes, “unravel the periods of time and trends to reconstruct a unique and personal look.” Continuing, “I am inspired by very eclectic references: sometimes a chic and cool Saint-Germain-des-Prés Icon, or a Shoreditch neo-punk, or even a Geisha doll-like. It is limitless.”
Cruschiform is the moniker for Marie-laure Cruschi, a French illustrator and graphic designer whose colorful digital works showcase the beauty of rural and urban landscapes. Whether she’s depicting a vertical garden in Paris or a solitary cabin in the woods, Marie-laure does so with the same bold shapes and fine details.
“My art grows into the poetry of simple modular forms,” she writes. “Little by little, my graphic vocabulary get more and more figurative, driving me to new narratives territories, without loosing sight that I believe the best work is a combination of a keenness mind, a great know-how, a good dose of insight and a bit of malice.”
If you’re itching for a new sketchbook, look no further than that an old (unwanted) book on your shelf. Its pages are begging to be upcycled into colorful works of art. A fantastic example of this is illustrator Molly Egan who showcases the possibilities with her fun and vibrant imagery. Spread after spread is filled with amusing characters, hand lettering, and bold shapes. And because these pages are already printed on, there’s less pressure to make each of them perfect. This book has already had a full life—Molly is giving it a new one.
Molly chronicles her work on Instagram and sells a selection of it in her online shop.