Updated: Aug 20, 2019
The other day (while stressing about trying to finish our current project on time) I was thinking about how I've quite missed illustration in the past month or so, since I finished the Inktober challenge - partially - and hadn't had time to illustrate. In that moment, I devised a plan to illustrate as much as possible over the Christmas holiday, maybe with some kind of daily challenge. However, until then, I still felt the need to get an illustration fix, hence me scouring Instagram in periods of idleness - hence this new series. I felt that the time scrolling on Instagram wouldn't be wasted if I used the inspiration I found in a post, so here we are!
(Note: I'm aware it's been about a month since my last post - oops - but I felt extremely pushed for time recently with our Typography project at Uni and my RESPONSE placement with Nottingham Contemporary ((more on that soon)) and I really did miss writing blog posts, so now I've got everything sorted for hand in I finally took the opportunity to write!)
Today I'm going to focus this post on two specific illustrators (who also happen to animate - do you see a pattern here?) I've discovered over the last few weeks, whose work really inspired me and stood out for one reason or another. These amazing people are Bruno Mangyoku (@brunomangyoku) and Priya Mistry (@priyamistryart). I'll start with Bruno.
I fell in love with his work as soon as I saw this first piece, which was an editorial illustration for the Obosbladet magazine. I love how a visual hierarchy is created through the use of colour and perspective; this is a technique I've never really noticed before in an artist's work. By using cold and hot colour palettes, Bruno has the ability to control your eye as it moves across the image. At first, you may only see the man sat in his chair, as the hot colours seem to draw the most attention - but those little splashes of blue start to make you think about blue, so your eye automatically searches for more of the same - leading you to the back of the image, to the kitchen, and to that adorable dog. Note how this background uses the smallest hint of red, tying the whole image together. Although the two colour palettes are opposites, the whole image feels cohesive, and therefore believable. I was truly impressed by the level of communication and control here; I love this piece and feel it does an amazing job at leading the viewer around the image to find all the tiny details. A very similar technique is used in the second image, an illustration for a webmagazine feature on in-flight drinking. I feel that this image really communicates that topic incredibly well, again using a hot palette to highlight the focus and using the cool palette to add detail, and therefore, context.
I also felt incredibly inspired by Bruno's mugshots (as he calls them) as well as his general style, layout and colour palette. I was particularly drawn to the colour palettes as I feel they are something you don't really see much of; they have an almost retro feel due to their pastel nature, but at the same time they feel modern and refreshing, particularly when used in vector-like solid blocks. This was another characteristic about Bruno's work that I really appreciate; He uses linework in chosen places in order to accentuate the forms in the piece, strengthening the meaning. Again, the outlines highlight the most important information in the illustration while areas that lack the linework are mainly made up of lights and shadows. This technique really inspires me and has given me a new outlook on how to illustrate effectively so that people look where you want them to look. In the second piece above, I also really liked the use of perspective. This again aids the communication as of course we don't need to see the face of the man to understand what he is doing with his hands - so why include it at all? These are simple techniques that although I've probably been told about them before, it's seeing them in action, working effectively, that inspires me to try them out. Another characteristic of Bruno's work I really appreciate is the textures used throughout. Particularly, due to his frequent use of gouache, the outer edge of his shapes are often a little rough - but it's this that gives his pieces a tactile feel that vector versions of the same illustration would lack. I'm all for the power of the computer, but the natural texture of paint on paper just cannot be beaten sometimes.
Before we move on, I'd just like to show you some of Bruno's animation too.
These animations were created to promote a French postal service. I just wanted to point out the attention to detail here, particularly in the shadows and clear understanding of movement and how this is affected by the environment, like how the hair blows in the wind. I really love how the movements of the characters are exaggerated to make the communication as clear as possible. I definitely prefer the first animation on the bike as I feel the vanishing point really adds interest to the piece and draws the eye towards the character. All of the characteristics of Bruno's illustration work appear here, too; the pastel colours of both hot and cold, the strong communication, and the sense of texture, even though these pieces can only ever really exist on a screen.
Let's move on to Priya Mistry. From the first time I saw her work, I felt incredibly inspired just knowing that she has achieved the goal I've set for myself: to be a woman in illustration and animation, and do it well. To know that my goals are achievable and not too far out of reach is so exciting. Anyway, this first set is a selection from Priya's series based around the London Underground. I completely adore the colour theme running through these pieces; they feel incredibly cohesive - but the colour palette also really suits the subject as these are the colours you'd find in the underground representing the lines.
The perspective changes in each one of these illustrations; I find this really refreshing as this makes each piece feel much more dynamic and unique than if all of the pieces used the same perspective. This just showcases the creativity and imagination of Priya as she constructs these beautiful lines and curves based on something we know isn't really half as pretty. Regardless, this visual style is really interesting and inspiring for me. Similar to Bruno, Priya uses colour in a unique way, far from realism. In particular, I adore the use of red and yellow as skin tones as this is really unique; it also removes any kind of racial attributes from the characters, allowing us to identify and relate to the characters regardless of our race. Similarly, there's no kind of typography in the illustrations. Instead, there are squiggles resembling text, but in no kind of readable language. This continues the theme of breaking down barriers as anyone at all can visually read the images and not feel like they are missing anything because they don't understand the text. As well as this, there are no distractions from the actual illustrations themselves; usually, if there is any text in an image, I tend to automatically read it first - but this method completely eliminates that issue. One thing I personally found interesting about these illustrations is that they are all created with POSCA paint pens; I love POSCA pens and constantly find unnecessary uses for them, but these pieces really demonstrate how they can be used to create really striking images. I'll definitely have to expand my collection after seeing them used like this.
Following the popularity of Priya's Underground series, she developed the NYC series which I really think took the whole concept and style a step further. I absolutely love the colour choices here and how the illustrations create a bright, busy but beautiful interpretation of New York. In particular, I love the first piece just because of the use of perspective. Similarly to the first Underground piece, a vanishing point creates a great amount of focus in the centre of the image. The difference here though is that the buildings on either side curve inwards, creating a great sense of height and depth, as though the buildings are leaning over to look down at the central character. This composition really draws you in and all of the different elements encourage your eye to roam around looking at all of the signs. One thing I admire about all of the NYC pieces is how Priya manages to handle using so many different colours at once without the illustrations feeling overwhelming or horribly garish. The colours also create a great sense of depth within the second and third images as the lighter colours are highlights and the darker ones are shadows, even though they are completely different hues. I found this technique a really interesting way to create shadow and would like to experiment with it myself. To add to the series, Priya created a looping animation of a classic New York taxi in the rain:
I love the simplicity of this animation, and how it really adds to the feel of the illustration without being too complex. I also really love how the rain creates shadows on the window of the car; it adds an extra dimension to the animation, creating a cohesive feel so that it doesn't just feel like two completely separate layers sat over each other. So overall, I feel like I've got a really good burst of inspiration from these two creatives. I can't wait to get experimenting with perspective and colour palettes to create some really unique illustrations and build my own style. Thanks for reading!