From exciting new artists to fresh work by older hands, here are the most popular illustration articles on Creative Boom this year. As part of our annual review series that reflects on the past 12 months.
It's been a disruptive year for all of us, but illustrators, in particular, had an extra worry this year. Would the rise of text-to-image AI platforms such as Dall-E 2 reduce demand for their services... or even replace it altogether?
While we understand the concerns, at Creative Boom, we count ourselves among the optimists. While AI tools can be fun and useful, we don't think they offer anywhere near the level of creativity, ingenuity and invention of real-life human artists. And if you need any proof, you can find it in the links below.
As part of The Review, a look back at our content from the previous 12 months, we've gathered together below our 20 most popular articles on illustration of the past year. So if you're lacking in mojo or just need fresh perspectives and ideas, you'll find a ton of inspiration in these profiles, interviews and case studies.
Putting the spotlight on the most interesting illustrators from all over the world, ranging from sparky newcomers to esteemed veterans, the work featured here is a treat for the eyes. Our exclusive interviews will give you keen insights into how it was created.
So whether you're a fan of illustration, a fellow artist, or just looking for eye candy, these illustrators are definitely worth checking out. And you certainly won't be able to imagine any of this work being created by a bot.
Nothing in Dohee's world is real, and everything she draws is a little off-kilter. What might first look recognisable is then paired with something random, like a giant drinks glass clinking a tower building. Here, the South Korea-born, Thailand-based illustrator talks us through her inspirations and the process behind her eye-catching pieces.
In the last hundred-odd years, women have been noticeably left out of art history textbooks. Here, Argentinian illustrator, Juliana Vido pays homage to some of her favourite female artists to correct the balance. Created in her colourful and playful style, the portraits range from Georgia O'Keefe and Marta Minujín to Lygia Clark and Yayoi Kusama.
Adoring the likes of Facebook, Adidas and Creators Club, the work of London-based illustrator and animator Anna Broadhurst is instantly recognisable thanks to its distinctive colours and use of dynamic geometric shapes. In our interview, she tells us that drawing and being creative are therapy for her.
A freelance illustrator, mural artist and designer based in Glasgow, Ida Henrich creates colourful and energetic work, often exploring social and economic issues close to her heart. Following a meaningful project for COP26 last year, we sat down with her to learn what drives her as a creative.
Based in North Carolina, USA, illustrator Kristen Solecki is always on the lookout for clients that use illustration in new and unique ways. Working primarily with collage, ink and gouache, her one-of-a-kind art style has excelled in finding equally individual homes.
Based in Baroda, India, Soumyaraj Vishwakarma creates digital artworks that are dynamic, otherwordly and intricate, celebrating those slower-paced days when we're able to forget our troubles. With vivid landscapes acting as colourful and detailed backdrops, Soumyaraj transports us to beautiful worlds full of bright flora and fauna – the kind of gorgeous settings that might appear in our dreams.
7. Ukrainian illustrator Olga Shtonda uses her art to call for peace after seeing her home country destroyed
Olga Shtonda is an award-winning illustrator from Kharkiv, Ukraine, who loves to combine different graphic techniques with printmaking, ink, pencils, collages and digital. In our interview, she explains how she went to Mexico two weeks before Russia invaded her country and is now wondering if she'll ever be able to go home.
8. A mashup of colour, line drawings and mid-century design: The artistic practice of illustrator Gracie Dahl
Gracie Dahl is an illustrator who recently graduated from Camberwell College of Arts and was one of the Association of Illustrators' Top 10 Graduates in 2021. She's already enjoying lots of love and attention as a freelancer, creating quirky art for a range of clients while crafting and selling her own ceramic pieces on the side.
9. Julian Alexander captures candid, familiar and tonal moments from the bustling streets of New York
Through a dusky, smoggy, almost sepia-tinted lens, Julian Alexander documents his New York City surroundings in real-time, illustrating recognisable objects and faces, perceived in such a way that it's like you are strolling alongside him too.
Illustrator, digital designer and creative artist Humberto Cruz has been making waves on Instagram this year thanks to his unique pop culture-inspired style. Having recently gone freelance, he shares his insights on what it means to be successful and how to build a following as a creative.
11. Mollie Ray on her upcoming graphic novel, visual storytelling, and crafting effective illustrations
Lancashire-based illustrator Mollie Ray specialises in crafting poignant stories with whimsical, intricate artwork. Having had her debut graphic novel, Giant, picked up by Faber and Faber, we caught up with her to hear what makes her illustrations tick.
Taiwanese creative Chang Chih has only been illustrating for less than a year, but her finely refined style proves otherwise. We explore how she's developed an aesthetic that gives off the illusion that she's been working in the medium for decades.
Kgabo Mametja – who also goes by the artist name of Saint Rose – is a self-taught illustrator who studied Visual Communication at Vega. Featuring sun-drenched colour palettes and strong, proud women, her work is a joy to observe.
Taking a photographer's favourite hour of the day, when a golden light bathes everything in a flattering warmth, Toronto-based artist Holly Stapleton's illustrations are pleasingly soft, charming and tender. In our interview, she explains how she mixes analogue and digital styles in a minimalist fashion.
15. 'It was love at first sight': Julie Andriamampianina on discovering digital art and refining her style
The French artist known online as Artkid has worked with the likes of Netflix, Xbox, the French Handball Federation, and more. However, she tells us it was not until she was studying for her master's that she discovered the joys of illustration.
Before the pandemic, Sarah Madden was a graphic designer based in Leeds. The lockdown experience made her realise she wanted to embrace freelance illustration and design full-time to explore a better lifestyle. She explains how she went about it and won clients, including Adobe, Facebook and Google.
17. Amusing and awash with airbrushed colours, Richard A. Chance's illustrations are an utter joy to observe
Richard A. Chance, an illustrator from Brooklyn, New York, has one of those portfolios that pleasantly forces you to linger for a little while. The oozing pallets and dreamy textures draw you in, not to mention the artful depictions of people gazing directly into your eye; these are real-life-looking people, but everything is much more heightened, exaggerated and colourful.
18. Illustrator Owen D. Pomery on changing careers, architectural storytelling and the advantages of agencies
South London-based artist Owen D. Pomery has spent the last decade working as an illustrator after moving from an architecture background. We caught up with him to hear more about his story and to learn how the Brilliant Artists agency has helped him get to where he is.
19. Roshi Rouzbehani on saving the world with art, empowering women, and developing her own visual language
The social upheaval in Iran has been one of the year's biggest news stories, and creatives have been playing their part. Here we profile Iranian illustrator Roshi Rouzbehani, who's celebrating her people's fight against a patriarchal dictatorship via bold digital illustrations using her distinct visual language.
20. Feixue Mei blurs the lines between the virtual world and reality in her beautifully surreal illustrations
Artist, designer and illustrator Feixue Mei creates work that crosses boundaries and is open to multiple interpretations. Originally from China and now based in the US, she creates illustrations and films that draw on various influences, including Chinese folklore, internet culture, manga and Surrealism.