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.
The sketchbook is a powerful place. It’s a place where artists and illustrators can play—try out new techniques, subject matter, or even jot down the occasional note. Many people prefer to keep these books private, and I don’t blame them. They can be incredibly personal spaces. So, I’m always delighted by those who choose to let us in on their sketchbook—it’s like seeing how someone’s mind works.
There are some who, with little effort, are able to make every page of their sketchbook look like a finished work of art. These books, in turn, are not just places to jot down lists or make a silly doodle. Rather, they’re intimate galleries that travel with them as they move throughout the world.
Here are 5 different illustrators who take the sketchbook to a whole new level.
Yoshiko Kozawa of Studio Giverny creates lovable animal planters that’ll be your (flower) buds’ best bud. Whales, giraffes, and alpaca all carry the weight of these plants on their back. But don’t worry—they’re happy to do it—and in turn, brighten your home.
Yoshiko first crafts her pieces from porcelain and then coats them in a shino glaze combination. Some, like the alpaca, include a fun pompom tail and tassel earrings. See her entire selection on Etsy. (h/t: So Super Awesome)
Erin Robinson, better known as Brooklyn Dolly, creates gorgeous portraits in a smattering of mediums. Look closely at her dreamy imagery and you’ll find watercolor, ink, charcoal, stenciling, collage, as well as digital work. Together, their layers are visually rich and celebrate Erin’s subjects—the “feminine shape and the many shades and coifs of Brooklyn.”
Erin sells her work through the Brooklyn Dolly Etsy shop.
While perusing Design*Sponge the other day, I was introduced to the work of Maria Berrio. Immediately, I was struck by her collage style—the intoxicating collision of color and texture paired with alluring figures in curious environments.
Driven by her “native South American influences” as well as living in Brooklyn, New York, she cuts and shreds paper into the large-scale portraits. “I usually find inspiration by going for a really long walk through New York City,” Maria told Annie Werbler on Design*Sponge. “The electricity of this city, the mishmash of cultures and classes, the hoards of interesting people doing interesting things in a dynamic city of filth and shimmering beauty — that is what inspires me.”
I’m a huge fan of sketchbooks… probably because my attempts to keep them always come up short. So, it’s no wonder that I’ve been fawning over Eva Magill-Oliver‘s books the past few days. They’re a combination of beautiful colors, bold shapes, and playful design. Unlike my pencil scribbles and sloppy note-taking, she uses each spread as an opportunity to make organic works of art. Eva will cut into pages, arrange pieces on top, and go outside of the book by attaching other bits of paper. In this way, the confines of the spreads are merely a suggestion—one that she’s happy to disregard.
In her artist statement, Eva writes that nature drives her color and imagery. “The natural world is an infinite resource for documenting and exploring shapes, patterns, and textures,” she says. “It also invites personal reflection and meditation.” Just like a sketchbook.
Follow Eva on Instagram to see what she’s working on now.