Extra, Extra, Read all about it: There’s a new drawing challenge upon us and we’re gonna shout it! It’s no surprise that the nightly news can be a real drag, making us feel like we’re stuck in a cycle of endless bummers. That’s why we’re challenging you to flip the script and report a quirky news story in the form of an illustrated tale. But we’re not looking for any old news story; we want to hear jaw-dropping, quirky headlines that make you bust out laughing, double-take in amazement, or simply fill your heart with joy. Old or new makes no difference – all we ask is that you keep things light (Avoid headlines that are too controversial/political.) When you upload your submission, we’d love to hear about where you found your story, so leave the reference in the caption. As always, remember to have fun with it and show us why your drawing skills deserve a spot on the front page! *Challenge ends July 2nd at 03:00 PM EDT. See complete rules and submit work on the official challenge page.
Anouck Ferri is an illustrator, graphic designer and author working out of her home office “at the foot of the Pyrenees.” With an illustrated children’s book and a host of items and prints available, Ferri is open to project proposals of any type as long as they preserve her graphic style. And that is what is special about this artist, her graphic style.
Ferri’s style is distinctly minimal and unique to her. One word to describe it is, cute. Her illustrations are undeniably cute, characters where practically every edge is rounded, even the often triangular shapes of their bodies. Everything feels kind of wavy and soft, even the pleats in a mother’s skirt. The heads and faces of her figures are big and round with minimal, dot/line detailing for eyes, nose and mouth with rosy cheeks and pleasantly muted color palettes. The entire aesthetic is soothing. Colors one would not often describe as beautiful or appealing are employed in a manner that comforts. Soft greys permeate the clothes and feel of many of Ferri’s illustrations which center largely on women. In particular, young girls and women as mothers or experiencing love. See? Everything about it is just plain pleasant. There’s a succession of illustrations on her Instagram that just feature two different young girls wearing scarves with their eyes shut. The absolute definition of comfort and serenity, adorable characters reminding us of the coziness of winter. It doesn’t get much better than that on the spectrum of peace and all of Anouck Ferri’s pieces evoke some element of that feeling. Cozy.
“I would like to give smiles when people look at my works.” These words are the professed mission statement of Diego Cusano on his Instagram account and own personal website. One look at his work and I’m sure he’ll have achieved his goal as he has for his many followers on social media. As an artist, Cusano uses collage techniques to bring pencil drawings, still life images, illustrations and graphics together to bring his unique vision of the world to life. He calls himself a fantasy researcher and when you look at his pieces you have to wonder if his fantasies are tainted by his empty stomach, they involve an awful lot of food.
That’s right, Diego Cusano is the master of high art food fantasy. With his collage techniques, Cusano builds an aesthetic that alternates from being light and funny to profound and gorgeous. For every pencil-drawn father kissing the pink, ready-to-bloom, tulip stomach of a pregnant woman, there is a person blow drying their head of pasta hair pinched between two chopsticks. He even gives his followers his own take on long-loved classics like a drawn and colored toucan with a real-life image of two tethered bananas for a beak or the paid project for Mortadella Bologna of a cyclist with two full pizzas for wheels. Diego Cusano is a visionary of a fantasy researcher, the perfect mix of imagination that is both beautiful and hilarious. Not to be missed.
Sillvi Illustrations is the business of the Korea-born Canadian artist nicknamed Sillvi. As an artist with almost two hundred thousand followers on Instagram, Sillvi has built a brand based around some of the most beloved and successful brands ever. For a while now, Sillvi’s bread and butter as an artist has been his ability to personify the spirits of brands in different markets. Fast food, car brands and sodas have seen some of their most successful companies reimagined as all new, anime-inspired characters that speak to the spirit of what they are and their aesthetic as brands and logos.
Something that’s fun about these brand related series that Sillvi has done is the differences between the spirits of each series. For the soft drinks/sodas and car companies that he crafted characters for, he took a much lighter approach. The characters fit common anime archetypes who might populate the main cast of an anime series. The fast food series, his most recent one, is a whole different ballgame. Here, Sillvi went much, much darker, reimagining the mascots of popular fast food chains like Wendy’s and McDonalds’s as horrific, murderous horror characters. The adorable little Wendy logo for Wendy’s is transformed into a shirt popping Harley-Quinn type while she extends her tongue to lick the edge of a butcher’s knife. Meanwhile, Ronald McDonald is turned into an alternate universe version of the Joker, trading his yellow jumpsuit for a yellow blazer and red tie while he smokes a cigarette with sinister intent in his eyes. In the end, Sillvi has something for everybody and subject matter that everyone knows. Join in the fun and see who your favorite brand is as a character!
Vivien Szaniszlo is a hidden secret of an artist whose incredible paintings are filled with hidden secrets of their own. Specializing in glow in the dark paintings, Szaniszlo’s talents truly come to life when the lights go off. The before and after effect of Szaniszlo’s paintings carries with it the feeling of seeing something completely new and amazing.
What really makes Vivien stand atop glow in the dark mountain is her all-encompassing vision, her ability to build an image that is both vivid and serene in the light and dark while standing apart as two equally valid yet new/unique paintings in either form. In one of her pieces, Harmony, is shown in both forms. As seen in the light, the painting is alive with peaceful pinks, purples, and blues with a dash of orange/yellow blends. We see a woman with light bursting from her hands up into the blended skies of peak sunsets. When the lights go off the viewer sees what the long woman may be fending off. Her light dims as the sky fills with dragons, glowing in neon bright greens and blues, the area on the ground around her now lined and accented by those neon blues and a ring of yellow.
You can feel the painting illuminating just from seeing pictures of it, it feels so bright that it’s impossible to not want to see the change in person. All of her glow in the dark paintings have this magical pull and are just as powerful and full of hidden elements. A quick favorite is Belongs To You. A fox looking at a flower under glass turns into a starry silhouette of a man kneeling in front of a woman under the glass with a heart hovering above them. They tell stories, stand as beautiful works of art in light and dark and will never leave your sight if you so choose. What’s better than multipurpose day/night artwork worthy of a gallery?
Penko Gelev is a freelance illustrator and comic artist in Sofia, Bulgaria with a decades long career of prolific and accomplished work. Gelev has worked in tons of industries as an artist in magazines, comics and films along with a series of exhibited works in 2012 as a member of “The Rainbow Project.” The best part of it all is that a great deal of Gelev’s output has been made available on the internet by the man himself. Gelev’s site are a treasure trove of illustrations and full page comics for those of us without access to this international artist.
For the more artistic, contemplative side of Penko, look no further than his Villages collection. Here we get the perfect summation of his signature eye. His choice of color palate for one. In a lot of these pieces, Gelev uses a tantalizing blend of muted earthy tones, using a certain blue on a car or green on a motorcycle with just enough saturation to make the entire scene feel filled with color. It’s an odd sensation that gives a simultaneous sense that things are at once bleakly dead and alive with beauty. And that’s kind of how I feel about Gelev’s signature as a whole, bleak beauty. In each of these illustrations he captures a small village scene of life that feels small and large. It captures the beauty of the everyday in an area that feels sparse and secluded in some ways and yet fully lived-in and developed like a city of pleasant homes with only a person or two walking its streets. It’s an interesting contrast, a feeling of push and pull that I find incredibly compelling. Like all of his work, it’s worth a full viewing.
Joseph Catimbang is a Filipino-American graphic artist based in California. He has lent his skills to companies and organizations like Skillshare, Adidas and Greenpeace and one look at his work makes it easy to see why he has been trusted by such large brands and gathered over eighty thousand followers on social media. Working by hand with ink on paper, Catimbang has proven himself as a technically skilled, versatile artist who is always trying new things and succeeding.
With his Instagram account, Joseph Catimbang invites the world in to watch his sketchbook grow with a wide range of uncolored, exquisitely inked pieces. His recent reposting of a two-year old piece on Valentine’s Day is the perfect reminder of what makes Catimbang so great as an artist. On the one hand, there is his skill with hand inking which is top-notch and exemplified in this unconventional Valentine’s art. Through the interplay between black inks and negative space, we see a man who is both covered by and seemingly consumed by branches, vines, leaves that twist around his arms and torso. Birds stand on them as the man pulls the branches across his chest apart to reveal a black pit surrounding his pure heart, an arrow having been shot through its middle. He wears a face that expresses sorrowful and tragedy. It’s powerful, captivating and evokes a response. Next to that is the artist himself and the message accompanying the pieces, the one where he reminds people to think of everyone on Valentine’s Day, what you have and not what you don’t, and urges his followers to spread love that day and every day. He is an artist who stimulates the eye and the mind, often through the use of dark imagery, and yet he isn’t afraid to speak to his follower’s souls and champion positivity. It’s a great mix to find in an artist and exactly what you can expect to find from Joseph Catimbang, check him out!
Ricardo Nunez Suarez is a Colombian freelance illustrator. He has worked all over the world in different capacities as a teacher, art director, and graphic designer. Nunez’s body of work can be seen on his website and Behance and it really deserves your attention. His talent as an illustrator is wholly unique, a mixture of surrealism, cheekiness and beauty. Looking at some of his pieces almost feel like looking at real magic frozen in frame mid spell.
Nunez presents many of his illustrations as series on a theme. Often they tell stories, either personal or reimagining representations of old stories, the myths/legends local to the setting of the series. Each collection is introduced with a statement on the types of stories being told in the images. Something I find interesting about his work is that many of these collections are based on the artist’s travels and stories he collected there and when I look at them, if I’m not super familiar with the culture, I have a hard time deciphering which of the illustrations are based in legend and which of them are the superimposing of Nunez’s imagination upon the world he’s seen.
There is a dream like quality to each of his pieces, whether it’s the way his colors are blended or cartoonish multicolored flora or literally a gigantic alligator stuck in the New York subway, Nunez is exploding with imaginative energy and clarity on how to wield it. It can’t be understated, everything he does has a perspective to it but that perspective is still married to a sense of beauty, either underlying or overt. There is at least one element to every one of his pieces that I find breathtaking. Ricardo Nunez Suarez is a must-see artist.
Helen Xu is an artist/illustrator operating out of Jinan, China. Much of her work is characterized by a love of animals. Pigs, birds, rabbits, insects, no member of the animal kingdom is off limits for this artist who uses wildlife to illustrate a greater sense of her prevailing mood/intent in her pieces. What a boon it was then when in 2018 Xu finally got herself a cat. Overwhelmed with the joy of having her new feline friend, Xu went on a run of illustrations incorporating the newest love in her life.
Like many of her past series, ‘Beauty & Cat’ centers around a recurring female figure, a fair skinned brunette who, in this series, finds herself surrounding by kitties who pop up in the most unexpected places. And that’s what I find most interesting about this particular collection, the varied manner in which Xu incorporates cats into her pieces. In some cases, the inclusion is very straightforward, her female character simply being surrounded by white cats as in the first piece or the second where the fur of a black cat sits in front of the woman, spreading her shadow like color around her new human. In others though, like the third and fourth pieces in her collection, the cat inclusion is more cleverly hidden.
In the third one for instance, our female hero is influenced by her love of cats, golden whiskers and ears hovering around her face while she sits in fine rouge cloth. The cloth is adorned with lovely flowers and among the flowers, if you take a moment to spot it, is a beautiful white cat, tail curled as it watches a ball of yarn, perhaps preparing to pounce. In the next piece our woman has shed her ears and whiskers, turning back to the viewer coyly in her sleeveless white shirt. All around her are vining plants with their shimmering leaves twisting and raising. Amidst the vines, behind the figure’s point of view, are a series of cat eyes, sinister, peering out, possibly threatening our woman. It’s an effect that in a quick scroll you might miss. That’s why it’s important to take a moment to really appreciate the artwork posted out there on the web, you might miss something otherwise. And in the case of Helen Xu, that something is clever and cute and not to be looked over.
At long last, the finale of Game of Thrones is nearly upon us. The story that George R.R. Martin seems incapable of finishing is about to reach its conclusion courtesy of Benioff and Weiss. As the end approaches, it’s a perfect time to look back and reflect on the legacy of this story that took the world by storm and how it will be remembered in the future. One of the elements likely to stand tallest against the test of time is its plethora of strong female characters and which of them is stronger than the Mother of Dragons herself, Daenerys Targaryen?
Credit: Nikolas Arroyo
Credit: Nikolas Arroyo
Social media is absolutely brimming with portraits of Daenerys so I thought it’d be fun to take a moment and recognize some of my favorites. Interpretations of the character as played by Emilia Clarke are varied both in terms of commitment to detail and realism as well as the mediums artists use to bring the character alive as art. It proves the enduring strength of the character that she brings just as much power to the viewer as a piece of comic-like digital pop art as she does in a hyper realistic line drawing done with ink and pencils. Some of the artwork is speculative wish-fulfillment like a rendering of Daenerys sitting on the Iron Throne caressing a baby (human, no dragons here).
In the end, no matter how you prefer to see your favorite Dragon Mama, social media is filled with options done by incredibly talented artists to satiate your appetite and tide you over until we all find out who wins the Game of Thrones.