Creativity Spark From Masters Of Illustration


Creative thinking is an essential part of design workflow. Whatever sketch you are working on, at some point you find yourself in the situation where you simply need some fresh ideas to find your path around the creativity block. Going away may help. Listening to the music may help. But particularly the works of the famous graphic artists may help. In fact, studying them very closely, you can not only explore new ideas, but also learn the smallest details – they form the profound foundation of every masterpiece.

In this post we’d like to present you an ultimate breakthrough for your creativity blocks; over the last weeks we’ve been searching for the most popular graphic designers, illustrators and artists around the world. We’ve selected some of their works to give you an idea what style they have and what details of modern design you can expect and learn from them.

So what do we have as result? Over 100 breathtaking illustrations from some of the best contemporary graphic designers, illustrators and artists; besides you’ll also find references to further (mostly unknown) sources for inspiration you can use on a daily basis.

Once you’ve selected the artist whose works you like, click on the image to get to his/her portfolio and explore his/her work in more depth. Please notice that most artists listed below are well-known in the worldwide design community (and so are their works); hopefully you know not all of them.

Please be patient, it may take a while until the images are loaded. Please be aware that it also may take a while until you’ve seen most of showcased images.

Further suggestions and ideas? Please comment.

Creativity Spark From Masters Of Illustration (Graphic Design)

1. Radim Malinic (UK)

Radim Malinic1

Radim Malinic2

Radim Malinic3

Radim Malinic4

Radim Malinic5

Radim Malinic6

2. Neil Duerden (Manchester, UK)

Neil Duerden7

Neil Duerden8

Neil Duerden9

Neil Duerden10

Neil Duerden11

Neil Duerden12

Neil Duerden13

Neil Duerden14

3. Büro North (Melbourne, Australia)

Büro North15

Büro North16

4. Evgeny Kiselev (St. Petersburg, Russia)

Evgeny Kiselev17

Evgeny Kiselev18

Evgeny Kiselev19

5. Maciej Mizer (Poland)

Maciej Mizer20

Maciej Mizer21

Maciej Mizer22

6. Pete Harrison (London, UK)

Pete Harrison23

Pete Harrison24

Pete Harrison25

Pete Harrison26

Pete Harrison27

7. Alberto Seveso (Rome, Italy)

Alberto Seveso28

Alberto Seveso29

8. Emeric Trahand (Saint Etienne, France)

Emeric Trahand30

Emeric Trahand31

Emeric Trahand32

Emeric Trahand33

Emeric Trahand34

9. Mario Sánchez (Newcastle, UK)

Mario Sanchez35

Mario Sanchez36

Mario Sanchez37

10. Peter Jaworowski (Warsaw, Poland)

Peter Jaworowski38

Peter Jaworowski39

Peter Jaworowski40

Peter Jaworowski41

Peter Jaworowski42

Peter Jaworowski43

Peter Jaworowski44

Peter Jaworowski45

Peter Jaworowski46

11. mcfaul (Emsworth, Hampshire, UK)




12. Chuck Anderson (Chicago, USA)

Chuck Anderson50

Chuck Anderson51

Chuck Anderson52

Chuck Anderson53

13. Platinum, FMD (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

Platinum, FMD54

Platinum, FMD55

Platinum, FMD56

Platinum, FMD57

Platinum, FMD58

14. Seth Weisfeld (San Francisco, USA)

Seth Weisfeld59

Seth Weisfeld60

15. Kacper Spala (Poland)

Kacper Spala61

Kacper Spala62

16. Scott Pollard (Manchester, UK)

Scott Pollard63

Scott Pollard64

17. Adhemas Batista (São Paulo, Brazil)

Adhemas Batista65

Adhemas Batista66

18. Raquel Falkenbach (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

Raquel Falkenbach67

Raquel Falkenbach68

19. Tom Kan (USA)

Tom Kan69

20. Nicholas Ainley (London, UK)

Nicholas Ainley70

Nicholas Ainley71

Nicholas Ainley72

Nicholas Ainley73

Nicholas Ainley74

21. Drew Flaherty (Brisbane, Australia)

Drew Flaherty75

Drew Flaherty76

Drew Flaherty77

22. Alex Mapar (Melbourne, Australia)

Alex Mapar78

Alex Mapar79

23. Mark Verhaagen (Rotterdam, The Netherlands)

Mark Verhaagen80

24. Alex Trochut (Barcelona, Spain)

Alex Trochut81

Alex Trochut82

25. Alexander Radsby (Kalmar, Sweden)

Alexander Radsby83

Alexander Radsby84

Alexander Radsby85

26. Taobot (Mainz, Germany)


27. Gui Borchert (New York, USA)

Gui Borchert87

28. Si Scott (London, UK)

Si Scott88

Si Scott89

29. Alex Cherry (California, USA)

Alex Cherry90

Alex Cherry91

Alex Cherry92

Alex Cherry93

Alex Cherry94

30. Paul Hollingworth (Newcastle, UK)

Paul Hollingworth95

Paul Hollingworth96

Paul Hollingworth97

31. Jacques S Alton (London, UK)

The Preps98

The Preps99

32. Susanne Paschke (Berlin, Germany)

Susanne Paschke100

Susanne Paschke101

Susanne Paschke102

Susanne Paschke103

Galleries of Graphic Design & Illustration

  • DigitalAbstracts104
    A design community that strives to deliver a unique blend of content, discussion and creative inspiration to its army of readers.
  • 2Photo.ru105
    The projects showcases the best works of contemporary illustrators, artists and graphic designers on a regular basis. In Russian. More works on Designcollector.ru106.
  • Bak Magazine107
    A magazine related to digital photography, illustration and graphic design. 8 .pdf-issues are available for free download.
  • Artzmania108
    Artzmania is an independent venture showcasing outstanding international creativity and culture. 5 .pdf-issues are available for free download.
  • Cpluv.com109
    One of the most comprehensive resources related to digital photography, design and illustration. Dozens of categories, dozens of resources, hundreds of sources for inspiration.
  • NTMY – Nice to Meet You!110
    A growing gallery of resources (weblog) related to graphic design and illustration with hundreds of references to creative agencies and designers.
  • digitalthread111
    The designer’s arrivation point. A growing index of design-related resources and design companies.


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Vitaly Friedman loves beautiful content and doesn’t like to give in easily. Vitaly is writer, speaker, author and editor-in-chief of Smashing Magazine. He runs responsive Web design workshops, online workshops and loves solving complex performance problems in large companies. Get in touch.

  1. 1

    this is some quality art work…

    i love the sunglasses and pepsi ones… i am amazed with the creativity of these people. Inspirations like this help me get ideas :)

  2. 52

    these are some great illustrators!! where are the designers?

  3. 103

    This is not a bad post, but doesn’t has a good title.
    We have to admit these swirling eye candies are very pretty and need a master to create them. No matter the graphics serve the purpose of the design or not, swirling and sparking are definitely a trend and getting strong reinforce by designers.

  4. 154

    All these pieces look the same!
    These aren’t graphic design masters, they’re just Photoshop masters that are copying all the trendy shit.

  5. 205

    Best gallery is

  6. 256

    “Masters of Graphic Design”, A.K.A. “Swirly Photoshop Images From Hell.”

  7. 307

    I clicked through to just one of the portfolios of the designers linked above and found that he’s actually done a whole bunch of stuff that is different to most of the pictures in this post, so I’d suggest that it’s not that all these designers are turning out the same type of work, but that rather it reflects the author’s own particular bias as to what they like in graphic design.

  8. 358

    Very technical, but it all looks the same. Nothing looks that original.

  9. 409

    Most of this appears to be pop art, with very little meaning, scope or depth. That being said, I must applaud you for bringing Paul Hollingworth’s first image to my attention, as it is full of meaning, cultural significance and artistry. Thanks for the list!

  10. 460

    OMFG… when i see that i think im just good for the the trash can

  11. 511

    I have to agree with most of the others. This list is a disappointing scroll of similar styles and nothing original.

    “oh hey,..lets throw a female body outline and some glossy glittery swooshes in there.. and it’ll knock people out!! zomg 11s!!”…

    Its overdone and shallow.

    Whomever came up with this idea is probably the same person who came up with the “glossy screen” idea for laptops… totally weaksauce.

    Sadly… it seems like its popular because most people in society these days are more concerned about looks than substance. (omg, look at these sweet spinner rims with LED’s on them!!).. lame.

  12. 562

    poor women…becoming object and object again. lack of creativity!

  13. 613

    Masters of Graphic design? Nah, not really.
    Masters of Illustrations? Yes, although swirls seems to be very trendy now.

  14. 664

    Nice use of layering. I’m a fan of the montage at the moment.

    I think some people looking at this forget that you’ll very rarely see these in any one place at the same time. Appreciation of these will be increased in there own advetising space and sites.

    We (designers) can all do these montages, its whether you think too…

  15. 715

    Some smooth Photoshop masters.

    Would be nice to know the time frame a few took from Design to Development.

    Good Collection of talent.

  16. 766

    Utterly stunning collection – no doubt there’ll be some contention within the comments, though. Sure it’s all been done before, women as sex objects, cry me a frick’n river, people will always find something to criticize. But when you take a step back from the intellectual and let yourself emotionally feast on what’s here, that’s when you actually get the point of what many of these people (presumably) tried to create – a lush, rich, visual world where even the least creative person can still lose themselves.

  17. 817

    I’m in agreement with many others. First off, labeling them all under graphic design is terribly misleading. Define graphic design? Many of the above I know are not. Another point; being a graphic designer myself, inspiration doesn’t “just” come from looking at others graphic works, but from life, dreams, photography, fine art etc etc…..really, designers aren’t that shallow! lol

    Admittedly there’s alot of talent here, but masters? Aren’t you just trying to play for popularity, while misleading others? Very weak-sauce.

  18. 868

    Nice nice nice!!
    I’m like at dreamland. Very fantasy picture.

  19. 919

    Some more individually styled illustrations can be found in Candy magazine.
    PDF dowloads available.

  20. 970

    Although I appreciate all the hard work and excellent detail that went into these – I have to agree that they do all follow a similar trend that is a little played out. Pretty woman + fireworks and swirls.

  21. 1021

    WOW!!!!!!!!!!!! words for me!!

  22. 1072

    Three talented designers from Poland. Nice:)

  23. 1123

    Vitaly Friedman & Sven Lennartz

    August 22, 2007 4:33 pm

    Dear friends and critics,

    first of all thank you very much for your constructive criticism. We really appreciate it – there is nothing more valuable than expert opinions when it comes to improving the quality of a magazine.

    Dan Loffler, rietz, Susan Hurt, Peter: thank you for your input.

    However, we’d like to point you to one aspect of this article you have probably missed. The thing is: we didn’t want this post to be some kind of a gallery; instead it was supposed to give our readers an opportunity to select one of the artists and explore his/her work in more depth. Definitely, if you take a look at all of the images listed in the post, you will find similarities – and to be honest, maybe sometimes too many similarities, but actually it’s not about comparing artists to each other. It’s about some artists you can choose to explore new ideas – and you’ll probably find them once you’ve checked their portfolio.

    Besides, do you really think that it’s fair to say that all artists listed here “produce” the same work? So, for instance, compare the work of Evgeny Kiselev, Alberto Seveso, Peter Jaworowski, Nicholas Ainley, Alex Trochut and Susanne Poschke. There are some similar elements, but would you call their work “the same”?

  24. 1174

    Vitaly Friedman & Sven Lennartz

    August 22, 2007 4:36 pm


    “Swirly colorful pattern overload. Puke. When you put them all toghether like this, I’d call it visual masturbation more than graphic design.”

    This post wasn’t supposed to be a gallery. “Once you’ve selected the artist whose works you like, click on the image to get to his/her portfolio and explore his/her work in more depth.” You can learn from the details in each and every one of the works; the works have similarities, though.

  25. 1225

    Before I went to university, I would be psyched on this page, but now, I have higher expectations. To reiterate the words of others, this is more a gallery of serifs than of “masters”. Then again, 14 year olds won’t know the difference anyway. long live diggg.

  26. 1276

    Only one word to say…. great! Thank You for this listing!

  27. 1327

    This is a really depressing list.

    This is not graphic design. I do not see any communication. I see one hollow, overplayed, utterly derivitive style of illustration. Shame on the person who compiled this.

  28. 1378

    There’s a few good designers in there, definitely. That said I also agree that most of the designs shown are very close to each other, which takes away a lot of the power each individual design has(or had), and the styles feel very temporary. Finally I can’t help but notice there are a few notorious designers missing in there: Crouwel, Build… just to name a few.

  29. 1429

    I agree with 80% of the comments here. It most certainly is NOT graphic design. I’d struggle to even call this illustration, try wikipedia for a definition if you’re stuck.
    There’s a couple of names on the list of merit – the rest are weak, over techincal derivatives of ONE style. It’s chocolate box decoration, nothing more. Sure, there’s some pretty incredible photoshop skills on display but seeing them all bundled together here shows the sheer unoriginality that is rife in visual communication these days.

  30. 1480 amazing..
    i personally don’t like that kind of art, but this is ART!

  31. 1531

    I am happy to see the huge negative response against this silly post. There apparently a lot of real designers out there who are also offended by the misuse of the term “masters of graphic design”

    Thank you author, for changing that in the post.

  32. 1582

    awesome. getting jealous…as I do not create such sort of work.

  33. 1633

    In a word: Wow. Really stunning imagery.

  34. 1684

    Does anyone know of some tutorial illustrations that demonstrate these techniques and styles?


    I really enjoy these illustrations and high fashion photography. Do most of them have a variety of vector designs on hand and a library of elements to build these type of designs or is this all crafted?

  35. 1735

    @ Vitaly Friedman & Sven Lennartz

    I appreciate your willingness to receive criticism and hope that you are indeed passionate about improving this magazine, as I appreciate and rely on it heavily.

    However, having worked in the publishing industry, may I offer something based on your defense of the post? You say that your intent was to get us to explore in further depth the work of these artists, but I assert that it is the responsibility of the author/editor to make sure that the editorial content is objective and well-researched. The problem is, you have given your audience too much credit in expecting them to do the research. If you wanted to show us the breadth of these artists’ portfolios, you could have just as easily selected the more diverse works that you alude to over the monotonously illustrative pieces that you did end up selecting. I’m afraid that this obvious fact makes your defense shallow and transparent, and only makes it even clearer that you are trying to communicate that this style is preferable. What you select communicates much more effectively than what you say.

    It is the duty of the editorial staff to exercise objectivity & depth, and not a fair expectation to assume that your worldwide audience will correctly interpret your intent. So, better to play it safe in the future.

  36. 1786

    Lot of work to compile this. However, all I can see are just illustrations, I cannot call them designs.

    Also, on top of the lists, most illustrations are women – little or no creativity.

  37. 1837


    Computer Arts ( gives detailed tutorials on this and other trendy/popular styles.

    agree with earlier posts – not graphic design, most not particularly contemporary anymore. still fun to look at though, just like a hot pink convertible.

    i’m surprised no one is really subverting this yet, been around so long…

  38. 1888

    [subvert meaning] ^^ like maybe a turd with some swirls, flowers and glow :)

  39. 1939

    wow there is some real talent there… [borat] very nice! [/borat]

  40. 1990

    All my favorites are on this list!
    Great work from people that I’d never heard of up until this point.

  41. 2041

    wow cool article, this was great thanks again!


  42. 2092

    This list is skewed in all possible ways. I don’t see why using photo realism in illustration automatically equates to “contemporary” or how mastering particular new trend leads to masterpieces.

    I don’t know how much these illustrators are paying you guys to advertise on your “blog” but I just want to inform the digg users that this list is incompetent and there are tons more illustrators out there in the world that deserves “Master Of Illustration” title. These illustrations are merely one particular style out of many. I personally like to call these illustration trend, “busy” art.

    Like they say, don’t follow the trendy tattoos because trends go away and you’ll regret it later down the road.

    Define your own style, not mirror others.

  43. 2143

    amazing! Great inspiration

  44. 2194

    i love that you can scroll through this entire thing, and think that 1 person made this.

    what a pathetic “creative” spark.

  45. 2245

    My, my. Quite the firestorm. Art is passion, after all. “Illustrators” works better in the title than “Designers,” I’m glad to see the change. I can appreciate the work and the portfolios of each of the artists. We all have our own tastes, styles, etc. What drove me to comment at all in my earlier post was the “You fail. Goodbye.” comment from Smarmy. I love differing viewpoints and trying to see what somebody else sees in art; why they like or not, what it “feels” like to them….Shutting out other perspectives creates the sameness that kills creativity.
    I enjoyed the post as much for the commentary going on here as the portfolios (far more interesting than just the illustrations shown on this first page).

  46. 2296

    Weak. The 90s are over, friends.

  47. 2347

    I’m going to give my $0.02 here.

    I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say that these designers are “masters” per se… but I can guarantee you that the works showcased here are certainly not something your average Photoshop user could ever hope to achieve. Many of these designers (such as Pete Harrison, Peter Jaworowski, Nick Ainley, and Mario Sanchez) have deviantArt accounts with a great deal of people who follow and try to emulate their designs. And fail miserably at it.

    Yes, many of these designs are very similar. But to say they are interchangable is to do absolutely no justice to the hard work that was put in to each and every piece.
    Look closer.
    Some of these artists put a lot of emphasis on typography. Others put a lot of emphasis on fitting a variety of abstract thoughts into a single piece. Others are just created as eye candy for various art groups online, and dont require any real substance since that was not the intention of the artist.

    And I guarantee you, as I follow a majority of these designers, the pieces showcased here were not representative of the best of the designer’s portfolios. This blog’s choice to show only those pieces which pander to the same genre really does these artists no justice.

    Rather than chalking it all up to one uniform lump of overdone crap, rather than stating that it all looks like one person’s work, rather than trying to convince yourself and the rest of the commenters that you know what you’re talking about while discounting the talent on display here, I implore you to actually LOOK at the artists complete portfolio and you will see that there is indeed individuality and talent to be inspired by. Damn that was a long runon sentence. But its a rant, so I’m allowed.

    Thanks for your time.

    Yes. The style is played out. Admittedly, I too have created designs that follow the same trend. Am I a trend whore? Abso-freakin-lutely! But, these artists are the best at what they do, so if I aspire to make some awesome eye-candy for my desktop background, then I will be looking to these guys to set the bar. These are the guys I guage my work with.
    A lot of the pieces showcased were designed for specific clients. (Many of which were high profile with large budgets and a large target audience)

  48. 2398

    This is so boring! No personality in most of these.

  49. 2449

    hello everyone, nothing much i can say..all image looks perfect, 99 over 10 :D

  50. 2500

    It’s Neil Duerden, not Neil Durden. And the first image is a collab with Mathew Star Thomas. I think it should be credit too ;)


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