20 of the most exciting illustrators to follow in 2022
Whether you're looking for an illustrator to collaborate with or hire or just want to see some fresh and original art to inspire your own work, you'll find 20 of the world's most exciting illustrators to follow right here.
Every year at Creative Boom, we search through the thousands of illustrators out there and gather together some of the best talents in one easy-to-access article. Our list includes new and emerging illustrators, some barely (or not yet) out of college, who are causing waves with innovative styles.
We've also featured some older hands whom we feel don't seem to get the attention they deserve, despite pushing creative boundaries and carving out a truly unique path for themselves.
In short, every single one of these 20 illustrators will inspire, enthral and engage you. Read on to find out who they are, and if you like what you see, be sure to click through to their portfolios and learn more.
1. Felicia Fortes
Based in Gothenburg, Sweden, Felicia Fortes is an illustrator, artist and designer known for her colourful, detailed illustrations for clients across editorial, advertising and publishing. She works mainly in two styles – one focused on flat colourful compositions and the other adding more textures and hand-drawn graphic details. Either way, there's an engaging honesty and frankness to her work that really makes it stand out, whether in print or on-screen.
2. Shabazz Larkin
Shabazz is a multi-disciplinary artist and writer based in Nashville, USA, interested in creating images of black culture and contemporary spirituality. Having worked with some of the world's largest brands, from Pepsi to Sean Combs, he's known for painting vibrant portraiture on canvas, typographic printing techniques, and turning colour and bold type up to the max. Best of all, Shabazz blends these approaches and always keeps you guessing. This means his work always surprises and always makes you think. He's just released his new book, The Thing About Bees, too.
3. Harrison Edwards
Illustrator, designer and, print-maker Harrison Edwards combines his love of vintage styles and digital artwork with humour and personality. Never content, Harrison looks to push his skill level willing to challenge himself with new styles, from portraiture work and pattern making to animation, he's worked with clients including Beats, Canon, Adobe, Eurostar, Time Out, and Tabasco. Overall, there's a youthful vibrance and pop-culture energy that means his illustrations never fail to put a smile on your face.
4. Alona Millgram
Alona Millgram is an illustrator based in Israel who works across the advertising, editorial, publishing, and packaging sectors. With clients including Perrier, Electra, Peachtree Publishing, Center for Educational Technology and Israel's Ministry of Education, she loves creating fantastical new worlds. And there's a beautiful child-like quality to her work that instantly makes the viewer want to explore and enjoy them.
5. Sonia Alins
Living and working in Catalonia, Spain, Sonia Alins is an illustrator and artist focused on creating pieces of art – often three-dimensional – with a poetic narrative that addresses her feelings, desires, dreams and nightmares. Sonia makes extensive use of the human figure and, at the same time, explores the expressiveness of elements such as transparency and blur. With careful use of colour and a particular penchant for soft pastels, this all adds to illustration work that's both easily accessible and beautifully distinctive.
6. Benjamin Flouw
Benjamin Flouw is an artist based in Marseille, France, interested in environmental issues. Consequently, he's on a mission to fill the world with pictures of animals, plants and landscapes in his distinctive style, which blends flat, colourful geometric shapes, textures, patterns and dramatic lighting. He specialises in commercial and editorial illustrations, books and poster projects for clients including Airbnb, Air Canada, Cartoon Network, Daimler and Variety. We love his work because it seems to effortlessly blend the retro and the modern in a way that never sinks into cliche and always seems fresh and new.
7. Cinta Arribas
Cinta is an illustrator living in Valladolid, a city in the north of Spain. She enjoys telling stories through her art and imagining stories inspired by different characters. With clients including El País, Babelia, Gràffica Magazine and Agencia Sinc, she's represented by Pencil Ilustradores in Spain, Central and South America. "With my work, I try to highlight the fact that life should always be a little fun," she says, and we'd posit that she succeeds in this wildly. Her work is child-like but never childish, and very distinctively hers.
8. Ekaterina Sheath
A recent graduate of Leeds Arts University, where she studied Illustration, Ekaterina Sheath sees her craft as a way to celebrate hidden stories and as a tool to experience local spaces as a cultural asset. Her clients include Trinity Shopping Centre, Victoria Gate & Victoria Quarter, Leeds City Council, and Kiezfonds Lichtenberg, a local government body in Berlin. In her work, she manages to bring streets to colourful life in a way that blends perfectly with her environment. It's a neat trick if you can pull it off, and Ekaterina does, time after time. Ekaterina is currently working with Historic England and Wakefield Council, as part of the Upper Westgate Heritage Action Zone, to create a series of public realm installations that aim to celebrate Westgate's heritage through the stories of its community.
9. Higi Vandis
Based in Bilbao, Spain, Higi Vandis has been working as an illustrator and graphic designer since 2002 and running her own studio since 2013. Alongside work for clients such as the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Astiberri, Cruz Roja and Obra Social "la Caixa", she also teaches masters degrees and workshops. What's immediately striking about Higi's work is his use of intensive, neon colours, which makes everything feel instantly 2020s while never going overboard.
10. Xavier Mula
Xavier Mula is an illustrator and designer from Barcelona, Spain, focusing on editorial, advertising and visual communication. His work is distinguished by vibrant and bold colours, with a direct, identifiable and playful language. Having won several awards, he also works as a teacher at La Gaspar Design School in Igualada (Barcelona). His illustration style is always full of energy, but it's energy that's always controlled skillfully, making it all the more powerful as a result.
11. Shunsuke Satake
Based in Kobe City, Japan, Shunsuke Satake has been a freelance illustrator since 2007; he previously worked as a graphic designer at an advertising production company. Focused on producing illustrations and characters for advertisements and books, he specialises in child-rearing, education, and family-friendly work. His deceptively simple work evokes what it is to be a child; glance through his portfolio, and you'll feel the years instantly flood away from you.
12. Maike Neuendorff
Maike Neuendorff is a German illustrator based near Frankfurt who used to work as a landscape architect. Her work is inspired by plants, gardens and nature in general, and she is also intrigued by children and their interaction with the living world. Working in various media – from ink and colour pencil to digital collage and printmaking – her first book, The Dream Garden, was published last year by Carthusia of Milan. There's a calmness to her illustration style that relaxes you the moment you see it, while the level of carefully curated detail makes you want to linger even longer.
13. Patti Ruan
Patti Ruan is a Chinese illustrator based in Shanghai who likes to observe small events in everyday life and make feelings visible by depicting people's inner thoughts. Following a series of graphic design roles, she's been working as a freelance illustrator and designer since 2019. Exhibiting a strong point of view and occasionally bordering on the surreal, her work offers a perspective on life that you simply won't find anywhere else.
14. Abi Deniz
Abi Deniz is a senior in Illustration at the Cleveland Institute of Art who enjoys painting, designing and telling stories. She likes to combine analogue and digital techniques, pulling everything together in Photoshop and Procreate, and draws her inspiration from history, literature and life drawing. While the results are often striking in their apparent simplicity, stare a little more, and you find they're full of hidden, fascinating depths.
15. Danyelle Lakin
Born in Canada to Irish parents, Danyelle Lakin lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA. Primarily a figurative painter, she predominantly paints with oils, acrylics, and R & F oil pigment sticks on cradled birch and canvas. With a keen eye for the nuances that make us truly human, the eyes are often the central focus of her artwork, and she firmly believes in the notion of them being "the window to the soul".
16. Eva Wünsch
Eva Wünsch is an illustrator and graphic designer based in Berlin interested in intersectional feminism, sexual education, medicine, and other scientific fields. She likes to draw figurative work that's influenced by still-life styles and her clients, including publishing houses, cultural institutions, universities, professional journals, brands and magazines. Drawing on everything from classic posters to isometric art, Eva's work never pulls its punches, and we are ever thankful for that.
17. Marius Valdes
Marius Valdes is an artist based in Columbia, South Carolina. His work has been featured in several books about contemporary graphic design and illustration, and he has participated in solo and group exhibitions internationally. He is also a professor at The University of South Carolina and has presented at several academic conferences. But if all that sounds overly serious, then don't be fooled: his work is endlessly, gloriously colourful and fun.
18. Adrián Balastegui
Adrián Balastegui is an illustrator and 2D animator based in Barcelona, Spain. He likes to create dream-like tribal worlds with distorted characters and strong, powerful colours. Constantly trying to learn and get out of his comfort zone, Adrián is currently introducing himself to motion graphics and 3D. But whatever the medium, you can guarantee engaging characters, inspired use of colour, and evocative, fantastical landscapes you'll want to lose yourself in.
19. Dani Torrent
Born in Barcelona, illustrator, painter and writer Dani Torrent studied illustration at Escuela Superior de Diseño y Arte Llotja. He has participated in various individual and group exhibitions and published picture books and illustrated books, both in Spain and abroad. Glancing through his portfolio, words like 'ethereal', 'graceful', and 'magical' come to mind, not without reason.
20. Vic Lee
Based in his studio on the Camberwell and Peckham borders of south London, Vic Lee creates elaborate and detailed artworks, from fine line pen-work to vast storytelling murals. This award-winning artist, author, illustrator and map-maker has been in much demand, working with a varied client base since starting his studio in 2010. And no surprise, because what this artist can do with illustrative lettering would make any wall want to be his canvas.