Illustration

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Art Design Illustration

The First USPS Stamp Designed by an Alaska Native Artist Features a Trickster Raven as It Steals the Sun

February 19, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Raven Story.” Image courtesy of U.S.P.S.

When it’s released later this summer, a new stamp from the U.S. Postal Service will illuminate a piece of Indigenous culture that’s long been associated with an escape from darkness. Titled “Raven Story,” the history-making postage features an iconic animal rendered by Rico Lanáat’ Worl, who is the first Tlingit and Athabascan artist to be featured by U.S.P.S. Awash with twinkling stars, the stamp portrays a black bird grasping the sun in its beak as it breaks from its human family. The motif is based on the story of “Raven And The Box Of Daylight,” traditional Tlingit lore about the trickster animal bringing the stars, moon, and sun to the universe after a series of heists.

In a statement, Worl shares that the raven is a prominent figure in Tlinglit culture, and the stamp depicts the pinnacle of this often-recounted tale. He writes:

Raven is trying to grab as many stars as he can, some stuck in his feathers and in his hands or in his beak. Some falling around him. It’s a frazzled moment of adrenaline. Partially still in human form, as depicted as his hand still being human, as he carries the stars away. I think it depicts a moment we all have experienced, the cusp of failure and accomplishment.

Worl lives in Juneau, where he works with Sealaska Heritage Institute and co-runs Trickster Company, a design shop focused on Northwest Coast art, with his sister, Crystal. To coincide with the USPS launch, he plans to create pins, prints, and other goods featuring the design, which you can follow on Instagram. (via Hyperallergic)

 

 



Illustration

Fantastical Cartoons, Robotic Pets, and Vibrant Architecture Populate Digital Illustrations by Ori Toor

February 18, 2021

Grace Ebert

“David and the Sphinx”

In Ori Toor’s Gibberish universe, it’s not uncommon to see bulbous cartoon creatures, leaves sprouting from pockets of machinery, or tunnels wrapped in rainbows. Set against solid backdrops, the digitally rendered dreamlands are teeming with fantastical elements and whimsy as Toor plays with scale and shape, planting a yellow pyramid or robotic cat on varying planes. Each drawing evolves naturally, a process Toor likens to creating a “Rorschach painting and trying to figure out what you’re seeing and then continuing work. I’m not sure what I’m trying to convey until the piece is done. I think mostly it’s me trying to feel safe in the world.”

Toor is based in Tel Aviv, and you can find a growing collection of his Gibberish series on Behance. Prints, masks, and other products featuring his illustrations are available from Society6.

 

“Lolopoola”

“Mirrrorrr”

“Gibberish Hubris”

“The Memory of Tommy Teacher”

 

 



Illustration

Write for Rights: An Illustrated Campaign for Amnesty International Aims to Free People Who Are Imprisoned

February 17, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Writing Carries Their Voice” (2020). All images © Amnesty International, shared with permission

A new campaign for Amnesty International exemplifies the power of the pencil in a moving series of illustrations by Bristol-based Owen Gent. Led by creative agency Cossette, the initiative was was designed for Write for Rights, an annual effort striving to free people around the world who are imprisoned unjustly. In the last two decades, it’s proven highly effective and boasted a 75 percent success rate after helping release 127 people.

Set on bold backdrops, Gent’s illustrations each utilize an oversized pencil that stands in for a spotlight, camera flash, boat’s wake, and sound booming from a megaphone, representing the issues facing this year’s targets—read more about Melike Balkan, Özgür Gür, the El Hiblu 3, Khaled Drareni, and Nassima al-Sada on Amnesty International’s site. The poignant renderings serve “as a reminder that even the smallest gesture can have a huge impact—it can change lives,” Cossette says.

Write for Rights is the world’s largest human rights event that generates millions of letters sent around the globe each year. You can find out more about this year’s efforts and how to join on the organization’s site.

 

“Writing Defends Freedom of the Press” (2020)

“Writing Frees the Innocent” (2020)

“Writing Saves Refugees” (2020)

 

 



Illustration

Otherworldly Ecosystems Populate Dense, Cross-Hatched Illustrations by Song Kang

February 16, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Evolution of Plants,” pen and ink, 30 x 20. All images © Song Kang, shared with permission

Packed with texture and depth, Song Kang’s ink-based drawings begin with “I wonder…I wonder how this will look compared to that, or I wonder if I can mix this and that,” she says. The Atlanta-based illustrator renders rich labyrinths populated by elements from land and sea that are depicted in an otherworldly manner: candy-colored liquid drips from a bonsai, fish and butterflies coexist in the same dense ecosystem, and a maze of M.C. Escher-style lizards sprawls across the page.

Each illustration is infused with ideas of evolution and the connection inherent in nature, themes that present themselves in both subject matter and Kang’s process. Often prompted by a loose idea, she starts with a sketch and works organically, drawing the intricate and minute details from one corner to the next. Her process is intuitive, which she explains:

In one moment, I feel like I’m building a distinct environment one crosshatched pebble at a time. The next moment, I’m clueless with only an impulse and a gut feeling to add something somewhere. One of these spontaneous decisions was choosing to add color. I was always using black ink, avoiding bright colors out of habit and uncertainty. But during quarantine, I found several colorful ink pens and became curious to see how it would look in my texture-heavy, fine-tuned crosshatched style.

Kang’s work is currently part of Wow x Wow’s Mindweave, a virtual group show that runs through February 26, and originals, prints, and smaller items are available in her shop. To see more of her meticulous process, watch this recent tutorial with Art Prof and head to Instagram.

 

“Butterfly Fish,” pen, ink, and acrylic paint, 17 x 17

Left: “Greenhouse,” pen, ink, acrylic paint, 10 x 17 inches. Right: “Fall Leaves,” pen, 9 x 13

“Bonsai Drip,” pen and markers, 9 x 6

“Henry’s Garden,” pen, ink, and acrylic paint, 23 x 23

“Escher’s Lizards,” pen, ink, and acrylic paint, 11 x 13

“Swamp Thing,” pen and ink, 8 x 11

“Venus Flytrap Squid,” pen and markers, 9 x 12

“Coral: Exploding Skulls,” pen, 9 x 12

 

 



Illustration

Expressive Portraits, Line Drawings, and Foliage Are Superimposed into Rich Illustrations by Ana Santos

February 11, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Ana Santos, shared with permission

At the center of Ana Santos’s practice is a commitment to discovery. The Salamanca-based illustrator fuses multiple mediums—her work ranges from watercolor, ink-based drawing, and digital painting to embroidery and ceramics—into portraits superimposed with clusters of foliage, birds, and small, black-and-white renderings, a technique she’s developed through experimentation. “Enjoying the process is very important and being open to error has given me unexpected results, which I really appreciate,” she tells Colossal.

Santos begins the layered works on paper, which she then scans to complete digitally in Photoshop. The resulting portraits are expressive and complex, weaving in elements of emotion, fantasy, and nature.  “I don’t like to explain or give a concrete narrative to my work,” she says. “It seems magical to me that the viewer is open to a free and personal interpretation and that the viewer feels that it is their own.”

Shop originals and prints of Santos’s illustrations on her site, and follow her latest projects on Instagram.

 

 

 



Illustration

Animals of the Lunar New Year Beautifully Illustrated by Felicia Chiao in an Ongoing Series

February 10, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Year of the Ox” (2021). All images © Felicia Chiao, shared with permission

We’re ushering in the Year of the Ox later this week, an occasion Felicia Chiao (previously) kicks off with an illustrated homage to the horned bovine. Rendered with gilded details and Chiao’s signature aesthetic, the drawing is the latest in the California-based illustrator’s collection of works marking the Lunar New Year. Each of the five pieces, which she creates with Copic marker and gel pens, relies heavily on red, a traditional sign of luck and prosperity for the upcoming year, along with layers of flowers, tassels, and a fantastic depiction of the animal.

Chiao tells Colossal that she’s celebrated the Lunar New Year with her family since childhood, which informed her first drawing, “Year of the Rooster,” back in 2017.

My family is Taiwanese, and so the Lunar/Chinese New Year is a big deal. I am very Asian American so I can’t say I’m the most traditional, but I grew up hearing all the zodiac animal stories and superstitions, and I wanted to make a drawing of my animal year back in 2017. It was a fun way to nod to my cultural background.

Prints from each year are available on Society6, along with a massive collection of Chiao’s fantastic illustrations. Head to Instagram to see more of her drawings featuring imagined worlds and emotional characters.

 

“Year of the Rooster” (2017)

“Year of the Pig” (2019)

“Year of the Rat” (2020)

“Year of the Dog” (2018)