Social media isn't all just snark and showing off. Fill your feed with visual inspiration, and it can help spark ideas, show you new techniques, and keep you up to date with the latest trends.
But every now and then, you need to freshen things up. That might mean adding new, raw talent that's only just emerged in recent years. It might mean incorporating some established artists that weren't previously on your radar. Or, most likely, it'll be a combination of both. To help you out, each time a new year rolls around; we scour all the illustration talent out there to bring you the most inspiring practitioners to follow.
For this year's curated list, though, we decided to do something different. Instead of coming up with names ourselves for 2023, we decided to ask someone else to help pull them together. And we couldn't think of anyone better than Dan Chrichlow, creative producer and co-founder of Dutch Uncle.
Founded in 2006, Dutch Uncle is a heavily awarded agency with offices in London, New York and Tokyo. They represent and source creative talent for clients looking to connect with the world's best illustrators, animators and animation studios.
Dan conjured up a terrific list of illustrators for readers of Creative Boom to follow in 2023. As you'd expect, that included a couple of artists on his own roster, but many elsewhere, too – all of which are his personal favourites.
So how did he go about it pulling together such a list? "To make a bite-size selection, I chose many of the artists based on having recently discovered their works in 2022," Dan explains. "They've stuck on my radar, bubbled to the surface. I've eagerly followed what they've been creating, exhibiting and sharing over the past year. And I think you'll enjoy their works in 2023."
Romanian-born artist Saddo draws influences as diverse as Rousseau, Bosch, Walton Ford, Matisse, Iranian miniatures and Asian carpets and fuses them with the energy and dynamism of street art, contemporary illustration and decorative arts, hip-hop and urban culture. Currently based in Bucharest, he shares his time between paintings on canvas for galleries, large-scale murals and commissioned illustrations for or clients like The New Yorker, The Hollywood Reporter, BSTN, Topo Chico USA, Regent Hotels, Lavazza, and many others. Typical subjects include surrealist imagery, 'day of the dead' iconography, explorations of death in various myths and religions, portraits of rappers and gangsters, flowers, burning cars, and intricate patterns of birds and plants.
Born in the Alps of Northern Italy, Lucas Zanotto is a designer, animator, director and founder of YATATOY, a company focusing on children's content. He has an unsurpassed talent for crafting simple, 3D-rendered shapes and infusing them with character, personality and child-friendly magic. The winner of several awards, including an Apple Design Award and a Cannes Golden Lion, Lucas has lived and worked in Milan, Barcelona, and Berlin and is currently based in Helsinki.
Here's another amazing 3D illustrator, but one with quite a different style and approach. Matssssal is a Korean graphic designer, illustrator and Webtoon artist focused on 3D modelling and drawing illustration and comics. His rabbit and pig scenes are wonderfully surreal and aim to make the viewer feel relaxed and laid-back. The artist takes his inspiration from 1980s Japanese pop bands like Ginnan boys and Shinsei Kamattechan, as well as films by Paul Thomas Anderson, Wes Anderson, and Shunzi Iwai. Check out his latest work titled Mellow Waves.
Karlotta Freieris an illustrator and comics artist based in Brooklyn who also taught illustration at the China Academy of Art in 2021. With clients including Hermès, The New Yorker, Cartoon Network, Red Bull, LA Times and Condé Nast Traveller, her elegant, evocative and fine-detailed work effortlessly summons up deep feelings about the past and present in the viewer. Karlotta has been acknowledged by the Art Directors Club with a Cube in 2018 and a Pencil for Best Illustration Portfolio in 2021.
5. Alex Mein
Alex Mein is an English artist and lecturer based in London. His observational drawings draw on his background in fashion and textile design and make clever use of rhythmic lines, patterns, mark-making and unconventional colours to disrupt and interpret the human form. In doing so, they beautifully express feelings of empathy, sensuality and intimacy. With clients including Mulberry, Gap and Liberty London, Alex is the course leader of the BA (Hons) Fashion Imaging and Illustration degree at London College of Fashion, UAL.
6. Lisett Ledón
Lisett Ledón is a visual designer, illustrator and motion designer based in Barcelona. She's known for her eye-catching collages featuring savage cut-outs, bold and dramatic colours and a strong point of view. Lisett's worth is driven by staying curious and being authentic: in her words, her work is "almost literally a collage of who I am."
Sergio García Sánchez is an illustrator, comic book artist and university professor based in Granada, Spain. He's inspired by museum visits and Old Masters, and his own work has been published and displayed around the world. Sergio's clients include The New Yorker, The New York Times, Toon Books, Dargaud, Delcourt, Dibbuks, Ediciones Santillana and Ediciones SM. He's also co-author, with Nadja Spiegelman, of the graphic novel Lost in NYC: A Subway Adventure.
8. Abi Salvesen
Abi Salvesen is a digital artist, illustrator and designer based in Edinburgh. She specialises in book illustration and has worked on publications by acclaimed writers including Alexander McCall Smith and Ian Rankin. Her richly detailed, ornamental designs take inspiration from illuminated manuscripts and Golden Age book cover art. This unique style draws in a diverse clientele from writers and poets to musicians and craft breweries.
Known for his comical and often cheeky felt-tip illustrations, illustrator Klaus Kremmerz has long been a favourite at ours at Creative Boom: you can read our interview with him and our coverage of a recent project. His unique approach, which brings a wonderfully vivid texture to his illustrations and evokes a strong nostalgia, has won him many clients, including Hermes, Apple, The Atlantic, New York Times and Vanity Fair.
Vaskange is a 2D digital artist and illustrator based in Lyon, France, known for his portraits, landscapes, concept art, character design and manga. He recently went viral with a social post in which he shows a sequence of images that never end. He created this using Endless Paper, an iOS app that gives you access to an infinite canvas.
11. Joe Boyd
Joe Boyd is an illustrator and animator based in Leeds. He specialises in illustration and animation work for brands, publications and events, with clients including adam&eveDDB, Wired UK, Studiocanal UK, The Guardian and Sundance Film Festival. We're not surprised he's in demand because there's a real verve and attitude to his creations that mark them as distinctively different. We love his personal, experimental work, too.
12. Clara Duper
Clara Duper is an illustrator living in a rural region of southwest France with her dog, chickens and iPad. And her love for the countryside comes out strongly in her bright and optimistic work, which makes excellent use of texture and colour to make her characters dance. Her clients include Le Monde, Bastille Magazine, Socialter, Chut Magazine, Causette, and Welcome to The Jungle.
13. Jon McNaught
Jon McNaught is an illustrator, artist and cartoonist living in London who has an incredible ability to tell stories through attention to small details. His clients include the London Review of Books, Tundra Books, The New York Times and The New Yorker, and he's also authored four comic books. He's currently working on a new graphic novel which should be finished in 2023.
14. Nick Fairbanks
Nick Fairbanks, an artist based in Georgia, USA, does a neat line in illustrated cityscapes, such as the Golden Gate Bridge, the Space Needle, Big Ben and the Arc de Triomphe. He sells these as prints on Etsy and brings some of them to life with motion graphics on his Instagram. He's also got a 'How to treat a book' series, which fans of literature and cute animals will love.
15. Kim Hyeon Ju
Kim Hyeon Ju's art looks like nothing we've ever seen before. These brilliantly realised cartoon characters are often mashed up with photography, 3D renders, and anything else that seemingly cropped up that day to tremendous effect: these scenes pop with colour, life and youthful energy. Fun, friendly and featuring a unique point of view, we can't wait to see more of this artist's work.
16. Rop van Mierlo
And now for something completely different. Amsterdam-based illustrator, Rop van Mierlo, is a master of the wet-on-wet painting technique: watercolours running over wet board, causing colours to blend and lines to blur. And he harnesses this process to convey images of animals that stress their wild, untameable nature. Rop has collaborated with major names across fashion, culture and music, including Moncler, Hermès, Harvey Nichols and Young Marco, and self-initiated a political poster campaign for the Party For The Animals, a political organisation in The Netherlands that advocates animal rights and sustainability.
17. Nick Dahlen
Painter, illustrator and designer Nick Dahlen takes classic influences and brings them up-to-date in his contemporary feeling work, characterised by bold mark-making and intelligent spontaneity. His scenes are typically a structured recollection of a place or idea but infused with a malleable, dream-like, nostalgic quality.
18. Bjorn Lie
Bjorn Lie is a Norwegian illustrator based in the East Neuk of Fife, Scotland. His work is imbued with a yearning for nature, driven by a love of experimentation and inspired by outsider art, natural curiosities and noir films. Playful and bold, yet rich in detail and texture, there's a strangeness to his work but also a lot of warmth and beauty. His clients include The New York Times, Deus Ex Machina, Hiut Denim and The Green Man Festival, and he's also written and illustrated three children's books.
19. Lola Dupre
Lola Dupre is a collage artist and illustrator currently based near Glasgow, Scotland. Working with paper and scissors, her work references the Dada movement of the early 20th Century and the digital manipulations of the present day. Her clients include TIME Magazine, Penguin Classics, Nike Basketball and The Atlantic.
20. Winston Hacking
Winston Hacking is a Canadian filmmaker and designer best known for his collaborations with Flying Lotus, Run The Jewels and Andy Shauf. His award-winning hybrid work, which consists of equal parts contemporary collage and early cinematic illusion, has garnered millions of views online. Full of passion, his creations are always brimming with passion and originality and can't fail to stop the viewer in their tracks.
21. Infinite Vibes
Based between Berlin and London, Infinite Vibes produces original, computer-assisted music and art that's always edgy, provocative and eye-catching. We're particularly interested to see his recent experiments with AI art and AI animation, which take the technology beyond the obvious and into new and exciting places.
22. Kate Dehler
Kate Dehler is an illustrator living in Austin, Texas, whose illustration style is joyful, optimistic and fizzing with energy: just what we need in times like these. It's attracted many clients, from Amnesty International and Architectural Digest to Warner Bros and Wired magazine. Plus, this year, she's been collaborating with musicians, including the Texan musical trio Khruangbin and experimental bassist MonoNeon.
23. Jacob van Loon
Jacob van Loon is a freelance visual artist living and working in Colorado, USA. His geometric watercolours, which appear to take influence from architectural renderings, are pretty magical and stunningly original. His paintings and drawings have been exhibited across the United States and Europe since 2009 and are housed internationally within several private collections.
24. Vincent Maunier
Vincent Maunier is a French artist based in Aix-en-Provence. His cartoonish creations are imbued with a brilliant sense of humour and often incorporate mixed media to create something entirely unique and distinct. Vincent regularly collaborates with the NOVOID Plus boutique and has a fantastic line in T-shirt design.
25. Edie Fake
Edie Fake is an American artist, illustrator, author, and transgender activist known for their comics/zines, gouache and ink paintings, and murals, all of which use visual abstraction in their work as an exploration of identity in the transgender and queer experience. The artist also produces an award-winning comic zine about Gaylord Phoenix, a bird-like man that travels to different environments and has various lovers.
26. Goro Fujita
Based in California, Goro Fujita is an art director, animator and storyteller who's worked on DreamWorks animations like Megamind, Madagascar 3 and Boss Baby, as well as illustrating multiple children's books as a freelancer. Most recently, he's been exploring the world of virtual reality, where he art-directed the Emmy Award-winning VR experiences Henry and Wolves in the Walls, Chapter 1.
27. Ryan D. Anderson
Based in Toronto, Ryan D. Anderson is a visual artist whose surreal animations are weirdly wonderful. A stand-up comedian by night, he's inspired by the idea of recreating dreams and memories of places that no longer exist, while lockdown prompted him to create a series of fun music videos for two characters called Goober and Baked Potato.
28. Pablo Amargo
Pablo Amargo is an award-winning Spanish illustrator whose monochrome line drawings harness a minimalist style to evoke maximum emotion. His clients include The New Yorker, Jot Down, National Geographic, The New York Times and El País Semanal. He's also published his own books and illustrated and designed book covers and posters for Paris Quartier D´été, Seville Music Festival and Gran Canary Library, among others.