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Illustrative Chronicles: A series examining works from the world of illustration

STIR looks at the art and design of illustration as a discipline to narrate stories of the contemporary urban, created in digital and non-digital formats.

by Rahul KumarPublished on : Aug 02, 2022

Illustration is more than just visually appealing graphics. It communicates an idea, a concept that connects with the viewer at a deeper level than just seemingly dazzling graphics. It is influenced by politics, daily life, and sometimes just playful vivid imagination. Illustrators have traditionally supported underlying text to visually narrate the story, or as an explanation to a design or process. In contemporary creative disciplines, while lines are blurring between the art and design, practitioners have employed the format of illustration delinking it from the idea of supporting pre-existing narrative. Instead, their work stands on its own as a form of expression.

Some rely greatly on bright colours, while others choose to express themselves using only black and white lines. Whatever strategy is taken, the finished graphic affects both the spectator and the author. Expressive, realistic, or highly technical illustrations in contemporary settings are employed for a wide range of art forms. With the growth of graphic novel and video game genre, illustration as a form of expression has gained traction.

STIR looks at six notable illustrators who have influenced their audience to think differently, both about illustration as an art form and about the world we live in.

1. Alex Jenkins' world of comical illustrations make you think out of the world, not just box

Sunset, Digital Illustration | STIRworld
Sunset, Digital Illustration Image: Courtesy of the artist

Alex Jenkins is a digital illustration artist and cartoonist based in South London, United Kingdom. Jenkins graduated from Camberwell College of Arts in London, England in 2015 where he pursued his bachelor's degree in illustration. The London based illustrator describes his work as exploring satirical and critical subject matter through a distinctive and vivid style. He attempts to avoid pretension while wallowing in comedy and touching on the absurd and surreal.

2. Anastasia Parmer brings monochromatic illustrations into real world setting

I Drew A Line And Called It Home, 2021-5, drawing installation | Illustrative Chronicles| STIRworld
I Drew a Line and Called it Home, 2021-5, drawing installation Image: Courtesy of Anastasia Parmson

Anastasia Parmson's immersive piece I Drew a Line and Called It Home became iconic in the digital social media world. Her artistic approach begins with a basic black line and progresses to life-size immersive creations. Parmson is an illustrator from Estonia who now lives in Sydney, Australia. Her practice is rigorous in order to bring out the entire picture. Parmson has created drawings on furniture, paintings, and even the frames of the designs she sends out.

3. Exploring Oakland-based artist Carissa Potter's romantic vision of the world

Illustration work depicting feminine figures  | Illustrative Chronicles | STIRworld
Illustration work depicting feminine figures Image: Courtesy of the artist

Carissa Potter's portrayal of the essence of romantic human connections is certainly captivating. Potter examines the physical, emotional, psychological, and intellectual dimensions of love and desire in this show, which includes new pieces. Her inquiries into public and intimate intimacy show her hopeless romanticism. Potter's art explores circumstances we have all faced at some point in our lives and conveys ideas we simply need to hear, speaking both playfully and profoundly to the human condition.

4. Looking at Koketit's visual art technique that employs mark making on photographs

Digital Illustration by Shira Barzilay in her signature style | Illustrative Chronicles | Shira Barzilay | STIRworld
Digital illustration by Shira Barzilay in her signature style Image: Courtesy of Shira Barzilay

Shira Barzilay, also known as Koketit, is a Tel-Aviv-based creative, an artist-come-model-come-designer, and with her huge fan following on Instagram, chances are you have seen her work. Her creative style is ultra-minimal, ultra-romantic flowing lines placed over photographs that inspire her; from portraits to landscapes, she finds and amplifies beauty in most scenarios. And her audience has responded favourably to her romanticism; as a result, she has hosted two solo art shows in Tel Aviv and collaborated with a variety of firms including Chanel, H&M, and Anthropologie, who all wanted to share her the-world-is-a-canvas style. Barzilay, known for her line drawings that frequently emphasise on the feminine body and female empowerment, meets many of her new clients on Instagram.

5. Exploring Malika Favre’s vivid illustrations and major collaborations

Warby Parker, LaJungle, 2019, Digital Illustration, Malika Favre | Illustrative Chronicles | STIRworld
Warby Parker, LaJungle, 2019, Digital Illustration Image: Courtesy of Malika Favre

Malika Favre, a Barcelona-based artist, is known for her deceptively simple style, which has graced the pages of The New Yorker, Vogue, and other publications. Her art is instantly recognisable, with clean, powerful graphics and exquisite geometry. Her stunning use of negative space and vibrant colour has made her strong, minimalist style - with the occasional splash of humour. She began her career in graphic design before branching out on her own to focus only on illustration.

6. Exploring Sarnath Banerjee’s take on life in India through his graphic art

Mukti Matress, illustration | Illustrative Chronicles | STIRworld
Mukti Matress, illustration Image: Courtesy of Sarnath Banerjee

Through his immensely relevant images, Indian graphic novelist Sarnath Banerjee explores the ambiguities of life in India. Banerjee was reared in Kolkata by a middle-class family (known at that time as Calcutta). He defined his early demeanour as "protective and scholarly" in an interview with The New Yorker. Prior to creating graphic novels, he worked on documentaries for Business India TV, and contributed graphics and comics to a variety of Indian magazines and comic books.

7. Aashti Miller's intertwined career as an architect by day and illustrator by night

Saudade, 2022, Mural, Aashti Miller | Illustrative Chronicles | STIRworld
Saudade, 2022, Mural Image: Courtesy of Mural Republic, and Aashti Miller

An architect by day and an illustrator by night, Aashti Miller works in both the United States and India. She is the sole force behind MillerInk, a graphic design and illustration studio, and she constructs her drawings in an attempt to unite her two seemingly disparate worlds. Her sources of inspiration are spaces, places, people, and her daily existential anxiety. As a result, her aesthetics and style have evolved into detailed drawings that walk the fine line between the constructed and the painted, digital and analogue, two and three dimensional. ‘The World is My Oyster,’ a children's book that highlights accomplished Indian women and provides role models for young girls ready to take on the world, is one of the Indian designer’s most notable illustration projects.

8. Russia-based illustrator creates images that evoke a sense of dreamworld

Tell No-one, book cover for Volchok Press | Illustrative Chronicles | STIRworld
Tell No-one, book cover for Volchok Press Image: Courtesy of Eya Modyakova

An illustrator residing in Russia, Eya Mordyakova loves experimenting and working in different mediums. She has worked on picture books, comic books, ceramics, animation, and other projects. She enjoys drawing all sorts of children's books, including non-fiction ones, as a visual artist and illustrator. Her works are influenced by folklore, fairy tales, and fantasy, and she creates worlds and people with vibrant colours and textures. Mordyakova's creations transport you to a realm of fantasy and enchantment, providing a deep sense of magical tranquillity.

9. Investigating how the pandemic influenced Vanessa Mwangi’s digital imagery

Flowers, Digital image, Gucora Andu | Illustrative Chronicles | STIRworld
Flowers, digital image Image: Courtesy of Vanessa Mwangi

Vanessa Mwangi's work focuses on depicting individuals, particularly women, and the issues that affect them. The illustrator's work platform supports and develops feminist ideas in a place where components of African tradition contribute to pervasive chauvinistic sentiments. Mwangi's digital art platform, Gucora Andu, began in the year 2020 during the pandemic while she was working from home; with all the social distancing regulations, and found herself having more time to explore her interests. Mwangi mentions that she was a feminist before she became an artist. Her material organically evolved to focus on topics she was already interested in, and the favourable feedback and steady development on her platforms inspired the artist to keep going. Monica Obaga, a African art illustrator, has influenced her work.

(Research support by Vatsala Sethi, Asst. Editorial Coordinator (Arts)

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