The SAA are very pleased to be supporting the World Illustration Awards by sponsoring The SAA Agents Award for New Talent.

Butcher Billy: Day of Reckoning

 

 

Butcher Billy lends his talents to a digital marketing campaign for 'Day Of Reckoning'.

The campaign was to drum up excitement for a multi-fight extravaganza in Saudi Arabia, set to be broadcast on the DAZN Boxing channel.

His contribution was a striking piece featuring iconic boxers reimagined in a thrilling zombie-inspired aesthetic, designed to complement a teaser for an upcoming 3D video game.

With a dynamic scene of pulsating action and raw emotion, BB's artwork infused the campaign with a vintage charm and vibrant colour palette. Through his distinctive 2D poster style, he brought an energetic edge to the anticipation surrounding the fierce competition.

Butcher Billy is represented by IllustrationX

 

Patrick Boyer for the Buxton International Festival

Dynamic and opulent designs are created by Patrick Boyer for the Buxton International Festival.

Pat worked on a new 2024 program cover, five opera promotions, and a billboard design. Having worked with the client on last year's season, he was well aligned with their aspirations for the art. The design brief was open to interpretation, and the client expressed confidence in Pat's work, stating his previous designs were "spot on." He aimed to maintain the elegance of his past achievements, while introducing alternative compositional elements for a sense of freshness.

 

 

Pat explains that the cover, his most recent artwork for the festival, reflects a summer celebration of opera, music, books, and jazz. Ties to the individual operas were welcomed, and the client gave Pat a lot of freedom for a fresh approach -

 

"I came up with a cover similar to last year's, tying in the elements and performers of the 2024 season, but with a more artistic approach. The individual opera designs were completed early in the season, so there wasn't much information available from the directors. For those, I researched the productions. Some operas, like Carmen, were more modern, serious, and gritty in nature, while others, like La Canterina, required something a little more comical and light."

Débora Islas for Rolling Stone Magazine

An alluring portrait illustration from the hands of Débora Islas is commissioned by Rolling Stone Magazine.

Featured in the Rolling Stone reviews section, Débora's seductive and beautifully crafted artwork is of Colombian-American singer-songwriter Kali Uchis.

The magazine reviews the musician's new Latino album, one which is entirely in Spanish and is inspired by the timeless, mysterious, mystical, striking, graceful and sensual allure of the orchid.

Débora Islas is represented by IllustrationX

Katharine Asher for The Radio Times

Katharine Asher is honoured to illustrate an iconic fashion 'look' on the cover of Radio Times.

"This is the job of my dreams", says Katharine, tasked with creating an illustration of the 1947 'New Look,' and employing the bold black and white lines characteristic of the renowned illustrator René Gruau.

The assignment required exploring both retro and contemporary approaches to Dior's classic design, which involved initial sketches, and additionally, the exciting opportunity to craft the title text in a freehand brush and ink style.

Katharine explains, "As a creative team we went from initial  sketches to finished cover in just two days, the speed of decisions and response was exhilarating and the result quite dynamic - as was the collaborative intention. This Radio Times cover was created to publicise the historical story behind fashion's fiercest rivalry, between Dior and Chanel - a story of corsets, couture and Nazi collaborations. When Christian Dior shocked the world with his New Look collection, of which this look is considered the most iconic, he was expressing a desire for beauty and extravagance after the horror of war. A new drama on Apple TV this week tells the story of Dior as seen through the prism of wartime Paris and Dior's rivalry with Coco Chanel."

Katharine received some affirming comments from the art director -

 

'I just wanted to say thank you so much for such a fantastic illustrated cover, it really did knock the socks off not just me but everyone who saw it , the editors were really wowed by all you did, the images were beautifully drawn with loads of poses and attitude  – the final image is really impactful, and your additional typography only added to it.' Jacob Howard - Radio Times.

Katherine Asher is represented by IllustrationX

TrendX – January 2024

 

The quarterly report on current and emerging creative trends from IllustrationX.

Dating back to 1929, IllustrationX is the world’s longest running illustration agency, and one of the largest. At the time of writing, we represent over 200 artists and animators, located on every continent (except Antarctica), and have offices in the UK, United States, Brazil, France, Germany, China and Australia.

The IllustrationX website is one of the most-visited illustration resources online, attracting over 100,000 visits every month. With our large stable of creatives, we receive a significant volume of enquiries and carry out hundreds of commissions each month across advertising, publishing, editorial, packaging, branding and more. The data we collect on web traffic, submissions, enquiries, commissions and artists’ revenues, tells us a great deal about the illustration market at any given time.

By analysing the data and combining it with insights from our agenting team - who work with commissioning clients and artists every day - IllustrationX is ideally positioned to identify current and emerging trends in the creative industries. This can include general stylistic and aesthetic matters, market category and geographic factors, and more.

TrendX is our new quarterly report, created for decision makers in the creative industries. It won’t be your only source of inspiration, but it is based on the interpretation of commercial realities by experts in the field.

 

Trending: A retro comic aesthetic

  • Three of our 20 highest earning illustrators work in the comic style
  • The style with the largest year-on-year growth in monthly web enquiries in both Nov and Dec 2023
  • The artists with the most enquiries in Nov and Dec 2023 work in this style
  • The artist with the most enquires from Oct 2023 to Dec 2023 works in this style

For clients in the entertainment industry, editorial, publishing and advertising, retro comic illustration is highly sought after. Older audiences may find this look nostalgic, however in other cases material targeted at millennial and Gen Z consumers uses a retro comic feel to create a sense of authenticity, establishing an association with traditional heroes, horror and fantasy. Sometimes, it’s chosen simply for its clarity and visual impact.

Classic comic book-style linework is a constant visual element, but how it’s treated can vary. Lighter line work with halftone dot patterns that revive mid-century printing techniques – à la Roy Lichtenstein – are very popular and take the retro vibe back to a 1960s look. A sense of knowing humour sometimes accompanies this approach.

The thicker lines and heavily applied shading of the late 1970s and early 80s have been prevalent in poster commissions where the focus is often on action and/or the strange and the weird. Combined with soft or playful colour palettes, an 80s comic style adapts well in editorial contexts and for informational communications.

Artists to watch

Butcher Billy

Cat Sims

Joseph McDermott

 

Trending: Live fashion illustration

  • Strong year-on-year growth in monthly web enquiries Dec 2022 versus Dec 2023
  • The most enquiries across all styles Oct to Dec 2023
  • The artist with the second most enquires from Sept 2023 to Nov 2023 is a live event illustrator
  • Four of our top 50 earners work in this area
  • Significant volume of enquiries across the second half of 2023

The growing popularity of live event illustration is more than a post-COVID correction. We believe there are two aspects to this trend.

Firstly, for many consumers, purchasing is about more than owning an item. Whether it’s cosmetics, jewellery or garments, the experience and engagement are important to people. Brands in this sector work with fashion illustrators to make the launch of new collections, individual products or retail openings a better experience for their customers. Live mural painting and the creation of individual portraits for guests both make such events memorable for all involved. Having customers feel that they are a part of something is invaluable to brands and live illustrators make this possible.

Secondly, in a world of online shopping, mechanised manufacturing and artificial intelligence, human creativity adds a special touch. If a brand wants to associate itself with individuality, imagination and artistry, live illustration is the perfect way to do so. Chatting with a professional fashion illustrator while they create your portrait is something personal that can’t be replicated digitally. Most people love art in childhood and even today many wish they could draw like an artist, which means they really identify with this form of creativity.

Artists to watch

Ksenia Craven

 

Caroline So

 

Veronica Collignon

 

Trending: Playful graphic illustration

  • Cartoon and humour received the second most enquiries across all styles Oct to Dec 2023
  • Significant year-on-year growth in monthly enquiries
  • Significant growth in enquiries across the second half of 2023
  • 33% of our top artists by enquiry quarter-on-quarter for Sept to Nov 2023 create cartoon and humour illustrations

A sense of fun has returned to the world of illustration in a big way and artists creating playful, light-hearted graphics are very popular with clients as 2023 turns to 2024. This is borne out in the numbers, and anecdotally our agents around the world have noticed a growing taste for illustration that’s cool, friendly and fun.

It’s a look characterised by simple, flat graphical forms and bright, optimistic colour palettes. With or without classic cartoon linework, characters and their expressions are exaggerated. Elongated limbs, improbable proportions and goofy distortion help pull us away from the real world and its problems to places full of possibility and positivity.

This often combines with a relaxed vibe – natural and modern settings where quirky, laid-back characters generally live the good life. Wildly stretchable arms and legs put everything within reach and even when it rains, it does so in Technicolor.

Artists to watch

Paperface

 

Tim Bradford

 

Season of Victory

 

Emerging: Straying outside the lines

Alongside the popularity of playful graphic illustration outlined above, we’ve noticed that commissioners are gravitating towards an offshoot of this style that is more artful and eclectic. While the forms remain exaggerated, fluid and malleable, in many cases the graphic elements are dispersing or the linework is becoming fragmented.

Patterns, textures and bright gradients combine with dashes of natural media, and bodily proportions are becoming even more outrageous.

Tonally, the light humour gives way to a more nuanced atmosphere, with texture, shading and brush strokes supporting a greater depth of subject matter. Both the content and vibe are becoming stranger, with places and objects deconstructed and the imagination of the artist running wild. Semi-mystical destinations are replacing realms of quirkiness.

Artists to watch

Visbii

 

Clara Candelot

 

 

Veronika Kiriyenko

 

Trending: Cultural authenticity

Trends in illustration aren’t limited to visual styles and their aesthetic characteristics. As 2024 begins, clients who contact IllustrationX are increasingly interested in working with artists who align with their brand and relate to the subjects being illustrated.

In the past, a white male illustrator in London might easily have ended up creating campaigns for a client in the Philippines. Today, the background and lived experience of an artist are make-or-break factors for many commissioners. If the communication relates to a particular community or minority group, they want to collaborate with illustrators who visibly represent that community in their portfolios.

There are creative and practical benefits to this approach. The artist is more likely to understand the topic quickly and intuitively. Their passion, experience and insight result in artwork that connects with the target audience in the right ways. In addition, projects of this nature often prove to be a learning experience for all involved.

Many brands have talked about how they value diversity for some years, but now we detect a deeper shift towards cultural authenticity in the creative process. Clients are much more sensitive to the notion of cultural appropriation and are serious about how they communicate with customers from a broad variety of ethnic backgrounds, with different sexual orientations and gender identities.

In emerging economies, such as Brazil, global brands are working with local artists to create a deeper connection with the markets they serve. Equally, home grown brands will employ Brazilian artists to maintain the local vibe and differentiate themselves from imports.

The examples below include artists whose work is unique – shaped by their location, who they are, their culture and how they see the world.

Artists to watch

Tai – Brazil

 

Alyah Holmes – Canada

 

Mpumelelo Bhengu – South Africa

 

Emerging: Dreamlike surrealism

  • Based on our data, forecasting tools predict growth in enquiries for artists working in this style from Jan 2024

Complex emotions and the juxtaposition of chaos and serenity might be the main themes driving this emerging visual trend. Dreamlike surrealism is characterised by strong, swirling colours and characters who find themselves in imagined landscapes that defy reality. These can represent dreams, other dimensions, altered states of perception, and more.

Illustrators working in this style take the viewer to places that are both tranquil and troubling – beautiful and powerful, but at the same time these places may not even exist. These realms grow from human experience, imagination and creativity, rather than from AI mashups of existing surrealist art.

What we are witnessing here could be the evolution of the retro comic style, playing with the imagination in similar ways but moving towards more sophisticated and nuanced narratives. Referencing artists such as James Jean, and a fusion of East and West, the look tends towards graphic novels rather than comic books, often combining line work with a mixed media approach.

Emotion plays a key role, for a look that is moody and atmospheric – more dreamlike than it is nostalgic. The artwork can engage the viewer in a curious way because it’s not as easy to put your finger on the emotional message. Ambiguous, open to interpretation, work in this emerging style is ideal for topics that deal with wellness, wellbeing and mental health.

Artists to watch

Carolina Rodriguez Fuenmayor

 

Koalanov

 

Carles Garcia O’Dowd

 

Written by Garrick Webster

Paperface – Veganuary

Veganuary begins with bold campaign art by Paperface.

 

 

The Veganuary campaign has kicked off, aiming to spark inspiration for embracing veganism with the help of Paperface's artwork across various media platforms.

 

 

Her vibrant illustrations focus on big flavour and taste appeal and also feature adorable animals, Paperface explains, "The whole purpose was to inspire people to give vegan food a go for January (and potentially beyond) and feel better about the things they eat and the impact that has on the planet. I think the animal illustrations got me in the end: by the time I'd finished working on the piglet, I decided I was going to have to give it a go - so the campaign's already off to a good start!"

 

 

Check out Veganuary here.

 

 

 

Paperface is represented by IllustrationX

Donough O’Malley – How Families Are Made

Published this week, 'How Families are made' is written by GP and TV presenter Dr. Amir Khan.

The book is enlightening and educational and takes the young reader on a journey to discover how families begin and how we all become a part of one.

A perfect way for kids to become little experts, the book is complemented by Donough's vibrant and bold illustrations, creating an engaging visual feast on every page.

Donough O'Malley is represented by IllustrationX

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all at IllustrationX

 

A big festive thank you to all our clients, artist and colleagues for making this such a great year, we appreciate all the lovely projects we have worked on together and look forward to more of the same in 2024!

A big thank you to Paperface for creating this magical festive GIF and to all our illustrators who create wonderful artwork all year round.

With your help, we have given new life to over 1.9 million trees in Zambia and Ethiopia since our campaign launch in December 2012 - Thank you!

Our long-standing collaboration with WeForest and 1% for the Planet sees 1% of each commission going towards this wonderful initiative. Every day our illustrators and animators are awarded many wonderful commissions which means trees are planted all the time, thanks to you! We have upped our goal to 10 million trees, so the long-term commitment and ambition is exciting. For more campaign info click here

We will be closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day, we will be checking in between the 27th and the 29th December to keep things moving, so if you do need something over the holidays feel free to reach out.

 

The IllustrationX and AnimationX team

Laura Greenan for the Ball Corporation

Ball Corportion ask Laura Greenanto design cans to showcase their smart contemporary properties.

 

Laura worked on two drinks cans that showcased both the infinite recyclability of aluminium, and also two of the client's own speciality printing techniques. In this instance they wanted to showcase HD photo printing, and their unique glow in the dark neon inks.

 

Her design had to include elements that would show off these printing techniques, plus carry a strong recycling and reuse message. They asked to avoid cliche images that are often used to portray things that are environmentally friendly, and requested a visually impactful and colourful design that was a celebration of the aluminium can, its recyclability, and the drink it protects.

 

Laura adds, "I created a couple of retro flavoured ideas that incorporated the flowing infinity symbol and different slogans to represent recyclability, and the ability of the aluminium can to keep the drink inside fresh and cool. I then sourced some appropriate HD stock photography to complement the design and create some interesting and colourful compositions."

Laura Greenan is represented by IllustrationX

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