Taking inspiration from the abstract, the surreal, the bold, the colourful and the iconic, this collection of the best illustrators around should provide some much-needed inspiration for those of you struggling with self-isolation.
Who are the top 10 best illustrators in the world right now?
There are quite literally thousands of illustrators plying their talents on Creativepool and scouring through them to find the most interesting and inspiring was no mean feat. But I think we managed it quite admirably.
So, in no particular order, we present to you our top 10 illustrators - Feifei Ruan, Rebecca Hendin, Cosmo Mulford, James Birks, Javier Medellin Puyou, Tim Lord, Barbara Ana, Anastasia Beltyokova, Yukai Du and Martin Reznik.
Feifei (whose work can also be seen gracing the header image) is a freelance illustrator based in New York with a keen eye for mixing the traditional and the exotic with the modern and the counter-cultural. Combining the aesthetics of eastern classic with the drama and vision of science fiction and fantasy, her work has been commissioned by everyone from Penguin Books and BuzzFeed to the BBC. We already spotlighted her work earlier this year but have decided to highlight her exceptional craft once again.
This London-based illustrator, animator, cartoonist, and artist is a prolific freelancer that has worked for the BBC, BuzzFeed and as a nationally syndicated US political cartoonist for Universal uClick, America's leading newspaper syndicate. Her style comes across like the perfect middle ground between the cartoonish and the surreal, with a particular talent for capturing emotion in the faces of her subjects. She’s also worked for clients as diverse as Google, VICE and Cambridge University and she’s always on the lookout for the next challenge. Given the range of her work, I’d say she could probably turn her paints to just about anything.
Cosmo Mulford is a British illustrator based in Shropshire that specialises in black and white illustrations and has a unique style that is, in his own words "layered with intricate details and pattern." Personally, what I'm seeing in Cosmo's work is an intriguing blend of Arthur Miller style comic book noir and incredibly dense and intricate line drawing. His attention to detail is absolutely breathtaking and both pieces featured below display that same level of refined and emotional craftsmanship.
This freelance illustrator and designer favours simple colour palettes, light, shadows and lots of perspective. His work is heavily inspired by pop culture, with his profile displaying references for everything from Street Fighter and Robocop to Stephen King and Star Wars. Bright and charming stuff with a hint of drama and come serious retro movie poster vibes.
Javier Medellin Puyou
A Mexican based illustrator, visual artist and architecture designer with the vibrancy and imagination of some of the world’s very best comic book writer, Javier’s work is truly exceptional. There’s a definite vibe in his work of the ridiculous and the overblown but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in heart or character. His work has continued to blossom over the years into more elaborate and exciting avenues that take in everything from pop culture to ancient Japanese folklore.
There’s more than a slight touch of Terry Pratchett about Tim Lord’s fantastical illustrations. These are hand-drawn and mystical creations that are as intricate as they are mysterious and evoke a gothic glamour that’s sorely missing elsewhere on the site. It might not be a style that translates well to every scenario, but when it works there’s really very little else like it.
Barbara Ana Gomez
Barbara is a Spanish-born illustrator based in London whose often intricate artworks are created using a mixture of digital and hand-drawn techniques. She takes her inspiration from the musical world - the likes of Sufjan Stevens, Radiohead, Laura Marling and Sigur Rós for her Illustrated Songs collections, where she pictures the fantasy world of her favourite lyrics. It’s a unique concept that is truly (and literally) lyrical in execution.
An award-winning visual storyteller who creates attractive and relatable images to visualise and explain values, ideas, and concepts in a fun and simple way, Anastasia brings advanced technical skills and a sharp, bold, and playful style with a Russian Avantgarde flavour to big brands. With 15+ years of broad creative experience and a Masters-level education in graphic design, she understands the design context and branding value of illustration and can speak the same language as commissioning directors and graphic design teams. Her work, as seen in the video collection below, certainly speaks for itself.
I would describe Yukai’s work as a collision of colour, but I wouldn’t want to come across as hyperbolic. So, I’ll just say that it manages to explore colour and contrast in a unique and fascinating way with a definite bent to the twisted and the surreal. Gaudi and Dali would probably be fans.
A polish-born illustrator and graphic designer with a passion for printmaking who currently works out of his studio in East London, Martin is a born doodler that has spent the best part of the last year building an incredibly colourful career as a 100% freelance illustrator. It is his passion, after all. Martin’s work is a perfect fit for the world of craft beer - bold, sharp and lively with just a hint of anarchy. That’s why it’s no wonder he’s been courted by some of the most exciting small breweries in the country. Despite being proficient in the digital arts, his preferred weapon of choice is always pen and ink. Even though he can spend countless hours glued to the screen working on Photoshop or Illustrator, what really makes him tick is getting down and dirty with his inks. His ultimate goal is to illustrate a children’s book (any publisher out there?), but for now he’s quite content with “drawing flying pigs for a living.”
If these incredible artists have provided you with the inspiration to reach out and discover some of the best work around right now, check out our Top 25 illustrators.
If you're an illustrator yourself and looking for work, take a look at all the jobs that we have for illustrators.