It seems highly unbelievable, but the previous year has provided us with one good thing, a plethora of excellent illustrations. The last 12 months have added numerous illustrations to the already enriched galleria we have access to. Our knowledge resource has been vastly derived from the Directory of Illustrations, which is unarguably the go-to vault for any illustration-related referencing. When it comes to searching and connecting with global artistic talents, no other tool is as valuable as the Directory of Illustrations. Let’s just say they have mastered the subject of art illustrations. Through this article, we want to describe the best illustrations that inspire us by virtue of their artistic appeal.

What will we be looking at?

As mentioned before, our glossary borrows largely from the Directory of Illustrations. The Directory prints a fascinating book every year and distributes it to many creative artists worldwide. These books especially are given to those who hire illustrators and animators on a regular basis. These books are five-hundred pages filled with numerous illustrations coming from the best artists working commercially at present.

We were almost spoilt for choices with so much talent at our disposal. But we did conquer the impossible task of jotting down the top illustrations worthy of your attention. The list encompasses both established and new artists who have the potential to make a vital impact in the world of illustration in the coming years.

1. How it Feels to Float ?

Karolis Strautniekas is renowned globally for his detailed and full of life illustrations. He is known to use contemporary colors and lines to make those wonderful illustrations. He works editorially for clients such as Forbes and The New Yorker. Moreover, he illustrates book covers for many authors, including our number one pick in the list. It’s a beautiful book cover for Helen Fox’s book, How it Feels to Float”. He did this illustration on behalf of Penguin Random House. The use of color and strokes on this beauty is one for the ages and should be celebrated worldwide.

2. Neighbors of New York

New York has emerged a lot stronger like many other cities amidst the pandemic. It has surely endured a lot. Neighbors of New York pay an amazing tribute to such a diverse city and its undying spirit. Peter Phobia, an animator and illustrator, hailing from New York himself, has put his heart out into the illustration. He has earlier worked with renowned clients such as the New York Times and Rimowa and Absolut. The essence of Neighbors of New York lies in its amazing patterns and use of shades. This one is an illustration that is pretty close to the city’s soul.

3. Women in Workplace

This one was a masterpiece from Amber Vittoria that earned her the Professional winner in World’s Illustration Awards that year. The project was from Facebook’s Analog Lab, and it focused on the concept of empathy. It was inspired by the embracing of modern individuality within the workplace. The poster employs colorful portraits having brighter shades depicting women going to work. The thought process behind this illustration gave it a wonderful contemporary edge. Vittoria’s brush strokes took care of the rest.

4. No such thing as Incognito

Matt Chinworth drew this detailed artwork as part of his series on behalf of the Washington Post. The series was based on tracking, tech privacy, and spy software and how we can protect our data privacy better from them. Matt Chinworth’s other clients include The New Yorker, Vice, and TED. The illustration “No such thing as Incognito” bears it all as it aims to expose how vulnerable our data is in the cyber world. It’s the magnificent concept that makes it so worthwhile.

5. The Last Supper

This epic illustration from Belgian artist Muskegon is his tribute to the masterpiece from Leonardo Da Vinci himself. It summed up the previous year best with its well-crafted Covid-19 twist. Titled “The Last Supper,” it is a self-sustained project that Muskegon took three years to complete. The astounding fact about it is that we can still discover newer aspects of time in every viewing. The way he implemented the classic Da Vinci concept into this modern hiatus is applaud-worthy. Muskegon is presently being represented by the JSR Agency.

6. FIT Illustration for Black Students

Jason Raish, represented by the Central Illustration Agency, combined art and action through this illustration at a FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology), New York fundraiser. Jason is a teacher there as well, and this particular piece aims to assist black students in pursuing their studies at college. According to the illustrator himself, he tried playing with contrast by pitching the homogenous, stuffy, and conservative nature of high fashion with the self-expressive and rebellious nature of Japanese tattoos. The illustration showed off stylish prints based heavily on contrasts.

7. Magic Hour

Jason Lyon, the next name to watch out for in the UK, created a fantastic illustration with Magic Hour. He graduated from Foulmouth University in 2019 and since then has been lending his realist artistic talents to the New Scientist and the Big Issue. His personal illustrations are touted to be as good as his professional work. This image expresses his wide-eyed praise for the childhood wonder and is considered his best work to date. It was printed on his Directory of illustration page and is a gem worth celebrating.

8. All good things are wild and free

This project was self-initiated by Venezuelan artist Victoria Morales. She is an illustrator and graphic designer herself and hails from Luxembourg. This illustration set out as a mockup for a book cover which included lettering. The results are simply dashing, eye-catching and dazzling, to say the least. Victoria created a gem of an illustration with All good things are wild and free.

9. The Earth has music for those who Listen

The illustrator of this beauty is Tania Yakunova from Kyiv, Ukraine. She is heavily inspired by 20th-century avant-garde designs. Her postcards and calendar stand testimony to her inspirations. They celebrate the beauties of Mother Earth and her basic wonders.

10. Coast Scene

This illustration from Gary Bullock is named Coast Scene. It boasts off a very inventive coast scene on scratchboard. The illustration was commissioned by De Nure Tours. The vibrant colors appear to be jumping out of the page, and it is one of the reasons this illustration stands apart. Gary Bullock is presently working for advertising, packaging, and editorial clients. Coast Scene remains one of his most appreciated works to date.

11. After Party

As explained by the artist Jess Hannigan himself, the illustration After Party explores the subtle moments that are kept in a space from where all people have moved away. This space comprises stories narrated through the debris and the clutter but is there to cherish forever. The image comprises four abstract yet highly vibrant pieces that create a surreal series enabling newer perspectives in our lives. The way this illustration expresses life beyond the four walls is something necessary and welcome after the lockdown.

12. Places I’d Love to Live In

Darya Shnykina is popular for creating numerous memorable projects, including glamorous book covers for renowned writers. One such amazing creation was “Places I’d Love to Live in.” This was a rather personal creation from Darya, typical of her style of capturing introspective and calm moments of human lives. It was a soothing, enchanting, and charming illustration from the gifted Russian artist of modern times.

13. Future of Music

Tom Peake reached the zenith of his commercial artistry when he created an ongoing series of wonderful illustrations for Bentley Magazine. One of the latest from that project was titled Future of Music. The image is highly conceptual and brims with verve. Meiklejohn is presently representing Tom and seems like the Future of Music, like that of Tom, is brimming with possibilities.

14. Until we Meet Again by Dion

Dion MBD successfully captured the romance and longing involved in a long-distance relationship. Dion hails from Indonesia and is a designer/illustrator living and working between Bandung and Brooklyn. This book project was simply splendid and worthy of accolade from the WIA. Until we Meet hangs more on the emotions rather than the artistic enrichment displayed.

15. Kobe Bryant

Lonnie Ollivierre, based in Atlanta, is renowned for creating images from everyday life. His best sources of work are his friends and family. Among all the great work he has created, his tribute to the late Kobe Bryant and his daughter after their horrible demise strikes multiple chords within the heart.

Some thoughts

The common man is guilty of often overlooking Illustrations. But ones having a penchant for art can never look away from a splendid image. The 15 illustrations listed above are truly one of a kind and deserve recognition from lovers of modern art.

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