“Men are often portrayed in the company of dogs,” Sam Kalda writes in his book Of Cats and Men. “They hunt together, run happily side by side, and ride shoulder to shoulder in mud-splattered pickups—the perfect image of masculine bliss. The dog is, after all, man’s best friend. Some men, that is.” But what about the feline muses that inspired some of history’s great artists, writers, and thinkers? Well, they’re profiled in this beautifully illustrated and delightfully written book.
Last week, I featured the work of Isabelle Feliu as part of my list of 16 fantastical fashion illustrations. Since then, her paintings have been on my mind. Combing women of all shapes and sizes, she outfits them in fabulous fashions from real-world designers like Vivetta and Gucci. The clothing is contemporary, but the Isabelle’s style of watercolor paintings is reminiscent of artists long ago. Matisse comes to mind—especially in the gesture of Isabelle’s figures, as well as her use of bold, flattened shapes.
Last Friday, I attended the opening of the MFA Illustration Practice thesis exhibition at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). As an alum of the program, I’m always fascinated to see how the thesis projects turn out. These are massive endeavors that take a whole school-year of work (your second year is dedicated to them), and even longer to plan. To say they’re involved is an understatement.
Whether you own a couple of t-shirts or a closet full of dresses, you can still appreciate the fun of fashion. One way to explore outfits is through illustration; why not build your own dream ensemble? Real world cost, material, and construction has nothing to do with it!
Over two years ago, I first featured the intriguing work of Sonia Alins. Back then, she had recently completed a series called Dones d’aigua, which featured illustrations of women swimming — and sometimes struggling — among a hazy watery abyss. Sonia has recently released a continuation of these compelling vignettes that’s appropriately titled Dones d’aigua II.
This week, I’ve shared vibrant portraits celebrating women of color and strong females kicking the shins of the patriarchy. Let’s cap off this week with the work of Rachel Ignotofsky, who recently released a poster depicting Female Activists Throughout History. “These women have fought, organized, and protested the inequality they saw around them,” Rachel explains. “This poster celebrates how they helped to create a better future. I hope this illustration inspires you to use your own unique voice to resist and fight injustice.” Half of the proceeds from each sale will be donated to the ACLU in your name.
I first met Hayley Powers Thornton-Kennedy when I visited the MFA Illustration Practice program (MFA ILP) as a guest critic and lecturer. In their cozy, well-lit studio, she showed me a selection of signage she had created for the Women’s March on January 21. I was instantly attracted to the bold illustrations and, above all, imagery featuring strong female figures. I had the opportunity to talk to Hayley more about her work, both in person and via email. The conversation and her illustrations seem especially fitting for today’s International Women’s Day and A Day Without Women.
Last summer, Jess Phoenix wowed me with her vibrant blooms. And, she was a hit on Brown Paper Bag, too; her beautiful bouquets were one of the most popular posts of 2016. Jess has just finished another gorgeous series called Queens that builds off of flowers and incorporates illustrated women and cats.
Maggie Chiang (previously) remains as one of my favorite contemporary illustrators. Her work is technically beautiful and conceptually intriguing—particularly when she delves into sprawling landscape illustration. The abstract horizons leave much to the imagination as figures contemplate what’s ahead. These spaces, no matter desert or forest, permeate her imagery—even when it comes to portraiture. This dedication to spaces both near and far play into Maggie’s larger ideas of her work.
I want to live in the colorful illustrations of Kiki Ljung. The Paris-based creative crafts vibrant imagery that’s inspired by the natural world—even her illustrations of people are seeping with beautiful blooms on their clothes and in the background. While nature driven, Kiki creates an interesting juxtaposition: her artwork is defined by geometric shapes and digital production. It really symbolizes the world today; that we love the outdoors, but also our devices.