With an affinity for bold colors, Willian Santiago documents what he sees around Londrina, the city in southern Brazil where he lives. He utilizes bright blues, greens, and reds to create his illustrations of wild animals and posed female figures that often resemble the geometric shapes and lines of woodblock prints frequently seen in Brazilian art.
“I love exploring,” Santiago said in an interview with WePresent. “It may be the step I spend most of my time on when creating an illustration. Color arouses different feelings in people. I ultimately want my work to create feelings of joy.” With a background in textile and pattern design, the artist says “old Vogue magazine covers, Art Deco and overly posed figures” often serve as inspiration, in addition to being “surrounded by strong women” as a child. Follow Santiago’s striking digital illustrations on Instagram, and check out his available prints on Society6. (via Tu Recepcja)
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Maine-based artist, illustrator, and pop culture cartographer Andrew DeGraff creates detailed maps that outline the movements of major characters in iconic movies. Made by hand using gouache and ink on paper, each of DeGraff’s maps are meticulously planned and can take up to 1,000 hours to complete.
DeGraff has been working as an illustrator for 15 years. He began his “Cinemaps” series in 2011 and has since published a book that includes art inspired by Back to the Future, King Kong, The Shining, Pulp Fiction, and other classic movies. Speaking to Colossal about his process, DeGraff said that it doesn’t matter if the film is a favorite that he has seen several times, or if it is one that he is less familiar with—the approach is the same. While carefully watching the movie a few more times, he deconstructs each scene and character journey (which are color-coded in the maps) to create a flowchart. “Then I start building my reference file from film stills, behind the scenes shots of the sets, location shots, Google Earth—even LEGO recreations if [they’re] helpful,” he explains. He then creates a blocking sketch before going in with pencils and paint.
“The smallest ones are 50–80 hours, and the largest go up to 600–1,000 hrs,” DeGraff said. “It’s often tedious but meditative work and I’ve come to love it. And I get to listen to a lot of audiobooks and music while I work since I don’t have to fully concentrate while I spend a day painting 800 trees or something.” To see more of DeGraff’s attention to detail in painted trees and movie landmarks, follow him on Instagram.
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Belgian street artist Joachim paints vibrant murals that look as if they were torn from the pages of a very large children’s book. His illustrative style brings humor and color to walls and structures in cities across the world. Joachim first discovered graffiti and street art as a six-year-old child in Antwerp. As an adult, he began experimenting with various styles both on walls and on canvases as a way to grow and develop his own aesthetic, separate from the work he had done in art school.
From 88-foot-tall underpass pillars in Austria to one-story quickies, what connects each of the artist’s murals is his use of bold lines, dynamic poses, contrast, and the playful spirit that he infuses into every piece. Two recent murals in Antwerp, where much of his art can be found on walls throughout the city, were made in collaboration with local schoolchildren. Joachim created the outlines of a stylized horse and bull, and then kids held their (gloved) hands up to be spray painted, their silhouettes creating the textured surface of each animal.
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Utah-based illustrator Jenna Barton (previously) creates shadowy portraits of animals inspired by her dreams, travels, experiences, and the aesthetic and emotions of the rural environments where she grew up. While she does integrate watercolor into some of her illustrations, Barton’s work is primarily digital. The style she refers to as “magical-realism-animal-gothic” came about around 2017, after she completed her BFA in Illustration and decided to take some time to escape the constraints of school and to focus on art that she cared about.
I hark back a lot to my childhood in Idaho, as well as looking to my current environment in Utah, to inform my work. I’d like to capture the strange emotions that I always felt in rural and empty places, and the daydreams I’ve had there. It’s those liminal spaces that I like best, and I’m interested in the structures that bring the human world into nature—radio towers, houses, power lines—especially in the absence of humans themselves.
Barton tells Colossal that many of her subjects are mammals because they share traits with humans, “while at the same time existing in a very different world from them.” Lurking big cats and silhouetted dogs and deer stare blankly with white eyes and stoic postures against relatively simple backgrounds—a window, a staircase, clouds—which give the illustrations a sense of mystery. “Animals with elegant silhouettes, like canines and deer, are special favorites for their graceful looks and sense of motion,” Barton explains. “I give most of my subjects glowing white eyes to indicate the presence of a supernatural element and to suggest that the figures pictured are something between animals and spirits, or gods.”
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Brazilian artist Alvaro Naddeo‘s watercolors imagine a dystopian world left in ruin by overconsumption and littered with the branding and logos of the past. Store walls, rusted out vehicles, and arcade machines gain new value as building materials and are combined with other objects and parts to form pop surrealist stacked structures.
Naddeo tells Colossal that he starts with a loose sketch by hand. He then uses 3D software to help define a plausible shape for his imagined constructions, and creates a reference composition in Photoshop. After years of practice, Naddeo shares that he is able to recreate the texture, color, and shadows of various building materials like brick and concrete from memory. He uses reference photos to help flesh out small detail items, which are similarly rendered in watercolor. As for the specific brands, Naddeo says that he pulls from his youth. “I think about the stickers and posters I used to have in my teenage room or the group of brands I used to like at a certain time. I also research at old magazines and look at the ads that shared a specific era. It’s a very fun and nostalgic exercise.”
In a statement on his website, the artist credits his career in advertising over the past 20 years as the inspiration for his work and for showing him the “duality” of such imagery, “both desirable and despicable.” To see more of Alvaro Naddeo’s work and to learn about his upcoming shows with Thinkspace Gallery, follow him on Instagram. (via Colossal Submissions)
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For his “Swimmers” print series, artist Brendan Lee Satish Tang transformed traditional blue and white ceramic dishware patterns into a symbol for culture: the complex, learned, and shared pool that surrounds us all. Each intricately drawn work features two swimmers (parental figures and children, siblings, and peers) who are seemingly unaffected as they attempt to navigate the rippling waters together.
Born in Ireland to Trinidadian parents, Tang received a formal art education in the United States and in Canada, where he is a naturalized citizen. He has lectured at conferences and academic institutions across North America, and his work has been exhibited and collected at museums and galleries across both nations. Currently based in Vancouver, Tang works primarily in clay to explore themes of tradition and culture with a particular interest in cultural appropriation and hybridity, which he says reflects his own “ambiguous cultural identity.”
The crosshatching and subdued blue tone give Tang’s drawings a sketch-like quality, while the morphing of the ceramic waves show a deeper level of planning and precision. A play on the idiom “a fish out of water,” Tang writes on his website that “we are the fish,” adding that humankind is “always finding our way through our greater culture.” Brendan Lee Satish Tang is represented by Gallery Jones in Vancouver and Elizabeth Leach Gallery in Portland. Check out his website to see where he will be showing next, and follow him on Instagram for closer looks at his latest work.
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Author JonArno Lawson and artist Nahid Kazemi recently collaborated to tell a largely visual story about a young bird contemplating its own existence and trying to find its place in the world after losing its flock. Titled Over the Rooftops, Under the Moon and published by Brooklyn-based Enchanted Lion Books, the children’s book features poetic writing by Lawson which provides the framework for its complex themes. Kazemi’s colorful illustrations—a mix of pencil, colored pencil, chalk pastel, and collage—pull young readers into the colorful and curious world.
After studying painting at Art University in Tehran, Kazemi worked as a graphic designer for literary magazines, published children’s books in Iran, and participated in illustration festivals around the world. Kazemi tells Colossal that the collaboration with JonArno Lawson happened by chance, shortly after a move and career restart in Canada.
While looking through books at a library for publishers and authors, the artist came across one called Sidewalk Flowers. “It made me hopeful that publishers in North America were interested in publishing wordless books,” she said. “I searched for JonArno’s other books in the library and felt that his work was close to my own style. I found him through social media – he really liked my work as well, and after a short while, we started to think together about this project.”
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