Csaba Bernáth is a Hungarian graphic designer and Design Director for Cold Castle Studios while operating as Creative Director of his own boutique studio, VUU. In his career Bernáth has worked as a designer in freelancing, design studios, advertising agencies and gaming studios. This young artist’s career has been and continues to be prolific. His works show off a wide range of ability in his design from professional logo and cover art to exceptional, three dimensional, ‘Rick and Morty’ fan art. It’s his impressive versatility that makes Bernáth a resourceful pro. Everything he does is interesting and worth looking at but my favorite genre of Bernáth’s artwork is his portraiture.
Bernáth did work on a personal project for his Instagram where he made digitally drawn portraits of people on the platform. The series of works produced from this are awesome. Each portrait has a comic book vibe, employing clean, simple line work and using shadow and lighting to build out the depth and shaping of his subjects. Using a simple, solid color background, allows Bernáth to bring full focus on his figures while employing another single color for the subject of the portrait creates an appealing contrast. The series follows a wide range of people and facial hair, spanning across age, race, mood and level of hipster. And in that way, it’s an excellent representation of the Instagram world, who knows, maybe someday you’ll be a Csaba Bernáth portrait.
Bethany Stahl is a Knoxville based artist, illustrator and author. Typically working “in a line and wash style”, Stahl’s watercolor paintings bring storybook magic to the homes of the clients she works with. Born out of a stranger’s commission to produce a painting of their home, Bethany Stahl found her painting passion, bringing the romantic magic of each family’s individual home, to life.
People now come to Stahl with requests to paint their homes in her signature style. An expert with watercolors, she employs the unique ability of the paints to combine rich and washed coloring to great effect, building a romanticized, storybook feel. For the owners of the homes, she captures and highlights the elements of their houses, whether stately or quaint, that makes them special. Whether it’s a royal blue door, saturated, or the splash of green the fauna around the home provides, Stahl always manages to emphasize certain details that allow the viewer to see how the house is seen in memory. For Stahl, she has written about how special her niche in the art world has been for her, recognizing the value of capturing the victories of first homes or memories of past homes now lost for people and the level of personal connection that brings to her pieces. She is an artist absolutely worth checking out. Given the nature of her work, you may even want her to paint your home for you.
Julio Cesar is a character designer and illustrator from Fortaleza, Brazil. His abilities as an illustrator have gained him quite a following with hundreds of thousands of followers on social media. When you see his work, the answer as to why is immediately clear in his style; the way that it lends itself to doing female centric character design.
Cesar’s portfolio is filled with tasteful, fun and vibrant illustrations of female characters, many of them being original creations of his own. It is however, his real-life references which give us the best introductory point of contrast to see what sets Cesar apart from the rest.
In particular, I’m talking about his awesome illustration of Ronda Rousey. The piece, posted as a photograph from his sketchbook, shows us the former UFC turned WWE Superstar in two very different modes. On one side we see her in the act of punching somebody’s lights out and on the other we get her laughing, in a moment of pure joy. Seen in the photograph, above the illustration, Cesar used traditional line-sketch and paint methods to bring Rousey to life. What I love about his work is the overall, animation feel to all of his design. We see from later posts how Cesar often uses photographic reference for his pieces, recreating them in his signature smile. It’s all bursting, simple color palettes with exaggerated eyes and pointy chins. It reminds me of some of my favorite Saturday morning cartoons or a more modern feeling take on the style of the late, great, Darwyn Cooke which always made me feel the same way. It just makes you want to smile.
Pedro Correa is a freelance illustrator from Florianopolis, Brazil. With a degree in graphic design, Correa has over a decade of experience in the design field. Years later, he has come into his own as an artist, gaining recognition for his skill as a traditional illustrator. His traditional work has even earned him a sponsorship from Moleskine that goes back to 2017. It is clearly a symbiotic relationship that shows just how awesome Moleskine is while allowing Correa to show off his bombast with a brush and pen.
The artwork in Correa’s Moleskine series is presented in two forms. First is the final product, fully colored, digitally, in all of its splendor. Beneath that is the original illustration as featured in Correa’s notebook. The best word to describe his work is, surreal. His subjects range from squid tentacles in space to skeleton bones surfing a cosmic wave in space, with lots of interesting stuff in between.
His most recent Moleskine series kicks off with my favorite illustration of the batch. It features an enormous fish, like a largemouth bass type fish, swimming through a cityscape. The original, black and white sketch, gives us the line and ink illustration of the fish soaring between and above massive skyscrapers. After Correa’s digital process, the background whites of the sketchbook became aqua speckled shadow and bubbles, missing from the original sketch, can be seen floating through the flooding city. I love the coloring technique and palette employed in the finished piece. Faded out blues and yellows contrasted with black and washed out reds. It evokes the spirit of the original Watchmen comics in the best possible way. No matter what subjects Pedro Correa applies his imagination and talents to, it to never fails to take the breath away.
Bhagvanji Sonagra is an award-winning design thinker and product designer in Rajkot, India. With a masters in Product Design from Coventry University, Sonagra’s prowess as a product designer has earned him numerous accolades, including the iF Design Award-Germany and the Gold Winner at the European Product Design Awards. The product design role is one rarely considered when thinking about great artists but Bhagvanji Sonagra’s Behance profile puts the artistry in product design on display.
In Sonagra’s postings, the viewer has the privilege of being able to see both the hand drawn artwork that he produces as well as showings of completed productions of his designs. What I find odd about his work is that I get a sense of fun when I look at his designs. They walk this really interesting line of being both 1:1 accurate depictions of their real-life counterparts and also very cartoonish/animated feeling. The way that he uses color in his designs reminds me of great animation, like the characters in your favorite nostalgia cartoons could come in carrying Sonagra’s camera or playing videogames with his sketch of a gaming controller. He includes a sketch of a welding machine, a true to life welding machine and when I look at it, I want to keep looking at it. The reds on the facings are so vibrant and so many of his sketches include incredibly effective use of lighting and glare. Every detail is interesting, even the divots in a cord on a hand mixer is appealing to me when in the hands of Bhagvanji Sonagra.
Vera Shimunia is a Russian artist based in Saint-Petersburg who does insane things with embroidery. With over two hundred and fifty thousand Instagram followers, her embroidering skills have gained Shimunia worldwide attention and a burgeoning Etsy shop. She refers to herself as a needle painter and that’s exactly what her pieces feel like, her needle works look like fully realized paintings. Shimunia says, “Most of all I love nature and believe in its power. So all [of] my pieces [have] its positive energy.” This is because all of her pieces are nature scenes. Nature scenes rendered in ecstatic, vibrant colors, finely detailed and often literally exploding up and out of the piece.
Each and every miniature embroidered needle painting of Shimunia’s is gorgeous and mind blowing in an “I can’t believe that’s possible” kind of way. My favorite element of her works, beyond just how vividly colorful and detailed they are, is the tactile sense one gets when looking at photos of them. When I look at the scenes, I just want to run my fingers along them to feel each and every thread and the clouds that burst up and out of the frames. My favorite example of this is a scene she did of a field of flowers at sunset. She creates a colorful stream of pink, orange, yellow and blue flowers that stretch back towards the horizon of the scenery. In the sky above, Shimunia recreates one of those magical sunsets where those same colors of the flowers temporarily reflect through the clouds, making them look like different flavors of cotton candy. In Shimunia’s embroidery, she builds that same effect of cotton candy clouds with layered tufts of yarn that flow up and out of the piece, at the viewer, an effect that’s simultaneously placid and stimulating. Everything she does feels like it was produced with actual magical powers. Her expertise deserves follows and perusal of her Etsy shop post haste.
Ranganath Krishnamani is a designer and illustrator in Bagalore India who has worked with Adobe, Oracle, Redbus and as Creative Director for Liquidink Design in India. A skilled hand illustrator, Krishnamani’s work tends towards a more minimalistic, digital finish, largely depicting everyday scenes with special attention paid to the lighting. He used this focus on lighting as the running thread in a recent series of work called, Everyday Musings.
Krishnamani used the everyday scenes of Bangalore, the ones that made him stop and think and sparked some kind of inspiration, as the subject of this series. He calls them “mundane everyday happenings…while waiting in the long traffic lights, or by the side of the road” and on his trips throughout Bangalore. He says that over the course of the series, a single source of light, “is intended to add drama and illuminates the subjects.” Each piece is accompanied by a description which gives the viewer an insight into what about the scene in his experience inspired him to illustrate it. One of my favorites, with the included context of the artist, is a piece from the point of view of the backseat passenger in a taxi cab. The driver’s face is obscured so that all the figure really is, is a shadow with an earbud hanging out of it. There is a religious and cultural shrine on the dashboard of the cab and the piece is ascribed to this “vantage point into peoples faith, culture and aesthetic choices from the back seat of a taxi cab.” The pieces are very straightforward in that way, self professed mundane scenes. Their value lies in the point of view of the artist, the meaning ascribed to the scenes by the artist portraying them and how that is communicated to the viewer. It’s a perfect window into everyday life in Bangalore all transmitted with deft skill and perspective.
Alice Lin is an accomplished painter based out of Beijing, China. In her work as a painter and as a freelance artist, Lin draws inspiration from traditional sources as well as more fantastic sources, the “fascinating wonderland,” as she puts it, “of possible realities combine[d] with the human figure, plants, animals into a singular, calm, dark vision.” A recent series, A Moony Night, posted on Behance, shows Lin bringing her mission statement to wondrous life.
The series, produced with traditional Chinese paints on silk, begins with a word from the artist. Here she describes the meaning of moony night for her as being “about empowerment in a soothing way.” The series, for Lin, is an attempt to give the viewer a sense of that empowerment. She achieves this through this wild cross section between Salvador Dali and Alice in Wonderland, as though Dali came along and produced a series inspired by Alice’s adventures. It’s a strange alchemy that creates precisely the sense of “calm, dark vision,” that Lin professes to be after. The series follows an adorable rabbit, placid in the face of bizarre, increasingly dark surroundings and pooling waters, melting daisies, chopped off heads of flowers, a potentially murderous flamingo and the absence of its body as its own eyes warp into Daliesque puddles in its dismembered head. And all of them are rendered in through traditional means. The overall effect is mind-bending, unsettling, cheeky and cute. All at the same time.
Julie Benbassat is a well established illustrator from the United States, working from Providence, Rhode Island as a freelancer. She has been featured by Paste Magazine, been the illustrator for the Brown Political Review and worked with clients like BOOM! Comics, Cartoon Network, Harmonix and The National Park Service. Her work is always filled with life and color. Her variant covers for the Season 11 Adventure Time comics is an absolute joy to look at with her use of more detailed, stylized figures, giving the outlandish fantasy a greater sense of reality that is both eery and child-like, capturing the spirit of the material beautifully. Looking further through Benbassat’s website allows the opportunity for an intimate look into the process her work goes through with her ‘Sketchbook Collection 2017.’
This particular series shows a collection of sketches Benbassat made across multiple sketchbooks in 2017. Here, she gives the viewer a raw look at the births of some her joyously fantastical works. My favorite element of the sketches are the unprocessed, hand colored sketches. Benbassat’s hand with coloring walks this uncanny valley between muted and vivid, deep/saturated colors that evokes some of the classic work of Alan Moore’s collaborators on V For Vendetta and Watchmen. Containing many test sketches for her already known, finished works, shows an artist of great talent going through her process and demonstrating just how much goes into each piece while also providing unique perspectives with which to appreciate the various elements of Benbassat’s artwork and artwork in general.
Kachmarska Ira is an illustrator and architect out of Lviv, Ukraine. This burgeoning artist recently shared her sketchbook for 2018, revealing a new tendency towards color in her impressive, growing body of work. Previous work from Kachmarska has always shown a run of minimalism towards the use of color, relying largely on the play between swaths of black, the natural grain of the medium used and an accent of one shade of red or yellow. Her illustrations from 2018 show Ira leaving behind her attachment for black backgrounds and introduces new, dominant base colors to her skilled line work.
Ira’s new affinity for color captures a greater sense of melancholic whimsy that beforehand had been far less pronounced, more dominated by melancholy. The inclusion of dominant colors influences the spirit of each of Ira’s pieces in the sketchbook. The first piece she presents depicts a scene of a melancholy woman with a long slender neck, standing in the foreground of a tree line, clouds overhead. A giraffe lurks through the trees as silhouette, kindred to the woman depicted here with her exaggerated neck. The trees, the clouds and the woman are all the grain of the medium Ira illustrated on. The rest of the space, the space surrounding the clouds and the trees, is all hand colored in giraffe yellow. It’s a whimsical package all-around with every element of the work influencing every other part, all of it dominated and determined by one specific color. As the sketchbook continues, Ira reveals a progression of scenes where this use of dominant color is played with and subverted. It makes the experience of viewing the series, one of exploration and discovery, constantly paying off.