Out of all the approaches to image making, cut paper illustration is my favorite. The process is often a tedious one, but the results are awe-inspiring. Paper can quickly transform from a 2D composition into 3D, and these types of illustrations have the look of sculptures with elements that cast shadows. This visual depth is the best part of about paper illustration. In addition, it gives you a distinct feeling that the piece is made by hand, and that the meticulous snips of the scissors or the slice of an X-Acto knife were all part of the journey into creating the final result.
Like so many people on the internet, I’ve fallen in love with the work of Elisa Lefebvre. The colorful illustrated ceramics feature a watercolor-esque application of glaze. So despite their strong, often stout forms, the pieces have a feeling of levity and airiness. It’s this juxtaposition that makes them irresistible and draws you towards them—especially the animal pieces. I like the peekaboo holes cut in cats and dogs that showcases small cut leaves.
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.
When it comes to hoop art, light-colored fabrics are a popular choice to embroider on. But, don’t overlook dark cloth. As Lindsay Swearingen demonstrates, it too can create beautiful pieces. Under the moniker Tusk and Cardinal, the Californian sews nature-inspired pieces that showcase, most notably, flowers and hands on a black background. The contrast makes her designs pop, and I love the tattoo aesthetic that she has in some of her pieces. The creatures, in particular, have the distinct feeling of blackwork-style body art.
Follow along with Lindsay’s hoop art on Instagram. And for her embroidered goods, head to the Tusk and Cardinal Etsy shop.
Inspired by wildflowers, roootree (aka Kaori) illustrates their colorful beauty onto porcelain plates, cups, and saucers. My favorite pattern—a mixture of tall grasses and bright buds—seems undoubtedly inspired by this meadow of wildflowers. Kaori has translated the endless rows of flowers into layers of color and texture. Using a combination of tight drawing and diffused shapes, she creates the feeling of depth. It’s as if her illustrated ceramics are actually made of a field of blooms.
Kaori sells her wildflower ceramics on Etsy.
Leah Goren is an illustrator known for her awe-inspiring sketchbook. That spontaneous, painterly-style works on more than just paper, though. She’s transferred her visible, energetic brush strokes to hand-built illustrated ceramic plates and vessels. They too feel like something out of her 2D illustrations, but with these, they’ve got an added practical purpose of displaying fresh cut flowers or store your favorite rings. Personally, I wish she’d make another one of the tiger dishes.
Leah sells her one-of-a-kind ceramics in her online shop. But if ceramics aren’t your thing, Leah also has a Skillshare class called Illustration & Inspiration: Keeping a Sketchbook.
I’ve talked before my love for illustrated animal totems. I think, partially, it comes from a childhood fascination I had with my mom’s miniatures that she kept displayed old printer drawers. Through her online shops, Emily Rose Thomson crafts similarly tiny creatures you can hold in the palm of your hand. Sloths, camels, foxes, and more are hand-sculpted and adorned with repeating patterns and my favorite—tiny pillows and other colorful packs.
Have I ever told ya’ll how much I love interior illustrations? Because I do—they’re fascinating! You can learn so much about a person from the objects they own. It’s why I’m drawn to the illustrated homes of Liz Rowland. Simply called Interiors, they feature “small scenes from around the world.” There’s a window and a plant in Mexico, sunflowers in London, and a messy desk in Melbourne. Each has artifacts telling us about the person who inhabits the space, done in a style that recalls the great Jonas Wood.
For many months, I’ve admired the Instagram account of illustrator Jane Newland. Particularly, her patterned landscape illustrations. Each piece is a slice of paradise as houses are tucked away in bustling forests or along the banks of a river. They’re escapism at its best.
Influenced by vintage pottery, fashion, and mid-century architecture, Anne M. Bentley paints curious portraits of mysterious folks. Clad in oversized sunglasses and 70s-inspired outfits, they pose with big cats, poodles, and feathered friends.
Anne’s bright colors and bold visual approach leave me wanting more. I wish I knew the stories of these illustrated portraits—but, I can always make up my own back stories of these people. That’s part of the fun.