Menu Search
Jump to the content X X
The Smashing Book #5

We use ad-blockers as well, you know. We gotta keep those servers running though. Did you know that we publish useful books and run friendly conferences — crafted for pros like yourself? E.g. new Smashing Book 5 features smart responsive design techniques and patterns.

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) Link

Radim Malinic (UK) Link

Radim Malinic1
Radim Malinic2
Radim Malinic3
Radim Malinic4
Radim Malinic5
Radim Malinic6

Neil Duerden (Manchester, UK) Link

Neil Duerden7
Neil Duerden8
Neil Duerden9
Neil Duerden10
Neil Duerden11
Neil Duerden12
Neil Duerden13
Neil Duerden14

Büro North (Melbourne, Australia) Link

Büro North15
Büro North16

Evgeny Kiselev (St. Petersburg, Russia) Link

Evgeny Kiselev17
Evgeny Kiselev18
Evgeny Kiselev19

Maciej Mizer (Poland) Link

Maciej Mizer20
Maciej Mizer21
Maciej Mizer22

Pete Harrison (London, UK) Link

Pete Harrison23
Pete Harrison24
Pete Harrison25
Pete Harrison26
Pete Harrison27

Alberto Seveso (Rome, Italy) Link

Alberto Seveso28
Alberto Seveso29

Emeric Trahand (Saint Etienne, France) Link

Emeric Trahand
Emeric Trahand
Emeric Trahand
Emeric Trahand
Emeric Trahand

Mario Sánchez (Newcastle, UK) Link

Mario Sanchez30
Mario Sanchez31
Mario Sanchez32

Peter Jaworowski (Warsaw, Poland) Link

Peter Jaworowski33
Peter Jaworowski34
Peter Jaworowski35
Peter Jaworowski36
Peter Jaworowski37
Peter Jaworowski38
Peter Jaworowski39
Peter Jaworowski40
Peter Jaworowski41

mcfaul (Emsworth, Hampshire, UK) Link


Chuck Anderson (Chicago, USA) Link

Chuck Anderson42
Chuck Anderson43
Chuck Anderson44
Chuck Anderson45

Platinum, FMD (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) Link

Platinum, FMD46
Platinum, FMD47
Platinum, FMD48
Platinum, FMD49
Platinum, FMD50

Seth Weisfeld (San Francisco, USA) Link

Seth Weisfeld51
Seth Weisfeld52

Kacper Spala (Poland) Link

Kacper Spala
Kacper Spala

Scott Pollard (Manchester, UK) Link

Scott Pollard53
Scott Pollard54

Adhemas Batista (São Paulo, Brazil) Link

Adhemas Batista55
Adhemas Batista56

Raquel Falkenbach (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) Link

Raquel Falkenbach57
Raquel Falkenbach58

Tom Kan (USA) Link

Tom Kan59

Nicholas Ainley (London, UK) Link

Nicholas Ainley60
Nicholas Ainley61
Nicholas Ainley62
Nicholas Ainley63
Nicholas Ainley64

Drew Flaherty (Brisbane, Australia) Link

Drew Flaherty65
Drew Flaherty66
Drew Flaherty67

Alex Mapar (Melbourne, Australia) Link

Alex Mapar68
Alex Mapar69

Mark Verhaagen (Rotterdam, The Netherlands) Link

Mark Verhaagen70

Alex Trochut (Barcelona, Spain) Link

Alex Trochut71
Alex Trochut72

Alexander Radsby (Kalmar, Sweden) Link

Alexander Radsby73
Alexander Radsby74
Alexander Radsby75

Taobot (Mainz, Germany) Link


Gui Borchert (New York, USA) Link

Gui Borchert76

Si Scott (London, UK) Link

Si Scott77
Si Scott78

Alex Cherry (California, USA) Link

Alex Cherry79
Alex Cherry80
Alex Cherry81
Alex Cherry82
Alex Cherry83

Paul Hollingworth (Newcastle, UK) Link

Paul Hollingworth84
Paul Hollingworth85
Paul Hollingworth86

Jacques S Alton (London, UK) Link

The Preps87
The Preps88

Susanne Paschke (Berlin, Germany) Link

Susanne Paschke89
Susanne Paschke90
Susanne Paschke91
Susanne Paschke92

Galleries of Graphic Design & Illustration Link

  • DigitalAbstracts93
    A design community that strives to deliver a unique blend of content, discussion and creative inspiration to its army of readers.
  • 2Photo.ru94
    The projects showcases the best works of contemporary illustrators, artists and graphic designers on a regular basis. In Russian. More works on Designcollector.ru95.
  • Cpluv.com96
    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!97
    A growing gallery of resources (weblog) related to graphic design and illustration with hundreds of references to creative agencies and designers.
  • digitalthread98
    The designer’s arrivation point. A growing index of design-related resources and design companies.

Footnotes Link

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10
  11. 11
  12. 12
  13. 13
  14. 14
  15. 15
  16. 16
  17. 17
  18. 18
  19. 19
  20. 20
  21. 21
  22. 22
  23. 23
  24. 24
  25. 25
  26. 26
  27. 27
  28. 28
  29. 29
  30. 30
  31. 31
  32. 32
  33. 33
  34. 34
  35. 35
  36. 36
  37. 37
  38. 38
  39. 39
  40. 40
  41. 41
  42. 42
  43. 43
  44. 44
  45. 45
  46. 46
  47. 47
  48. 48
  49. 49
  50. 50
  51. 51
  52. 52
  53. 53
  54. 54
  55. 55
  56. 56
  57. 57
  58. 58
  59. 59
  60. 60
  61. 61
  62. 62
  63. 63
  64. 64
  65. 65
  66. 66
  67. 67
  68. 68
  69. 69
  70. 70
  71. 71
  72. 72
  73. 73
  74. 74
  75. 75
  76. 76
  77. 77
  78. 78
  79. 79
  80. 80
  81. 81
  82. 82
  83. 83
  84. 84
  85. 85
  86. 86
  87. 87
  88. 88
  89. 89
  90. 90
  91. 91
  92. 92
  93. 93
  94. 94
  95. 95 #
  96. 96
  97. 97
  98. 98
SmashingConf Oxford

Hold on tiger! Thank you for reading the article. Did you know that we also publish printed books and run friendly conferences – crafted for pros like you? Like SmashingConf Oxford, on March 15—16, with smart design patterns and front-end techniques.

↑ Back to top Tweet itShare on Facebook

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 UX, front-end and performance problems in large companies. Get in touch.

  1. 1

    Inspiring work..

    .. seems to be the year of the swirls.

  2. 2

    This is absolutely fucking INCREDIBLE.

  3. 3

    Juan Manuel Lemus

    August 22, 2007 12:02 am


  4. 4

    Peter Jaworski, not Peter Hejz

  5. 5

    Some amazing pop art here. The detail is phenomenal.

  6. 6

    Swirly colorful pattern overload. Puke.

    When you put them all toghether like this, I’d call it visual masturbation more than graphic design. It’s also why nothing designed in this style ever stands out when you see it in a magazine or a billboard. Overplayed.

  7. 7

    Real Masters!!! Bravo – superb artwork

  8. 8

    Hahaha. Between truck paintings and “wow this looks like a bjork video clip” style.

    I’ll wait for more mermaids and dolphins next year.

  9. 9

    Glowing lines seem to attract graphic designers like rotten meat attracts flies

  10. 10

    “Graphic Design” is communication using text and images. This is illustration, and only one single style of illustration, at that.

  11. 11

    This style is so played out… Next!

  12. 12

    Nice, but it does seem to be an overused style nowadays

  13. 13

    Vitaly Friedman & Sven Lennartz

    August 22, 2007 1:31 am

    “Peter Jaworski, not Peter Hejz”.

    Thank you, me, fixed!

  14. 14

    A lot of these artists seem to have the same elements and colors in their work. The swirly vector’s seem to be a modern day element that can be compared to that of art nouveau elements with similar swirly glamorous features. I can see this style being duplicated by a lot more designers in the near future.

    Even though their are a few trendy designers on this list it’s still a great source of inspiration and I’m glad you guys decided to post it.

  15. 15

    I agree. Some of this is overkill… Die, vile swirlies!

  16. 16

    Are these examples of a trend in graphic design, or is this a reflection of the personal taste of the author?

    They are all amazing but most are interchangeable. If I were picking an illustrator for a particular project, this style would either work or not work. With a few exceptions.

    They are great though.

  17. 17

    Polish seem to totally own as web designers and graphic artits! Not only from the small sample of imagery, but from various art and design that I have been encountering since the beginning of the year.

  18. 18

    It may be just one style but it is one I love – I’ve been following Radim Malinic and Chuck Anderson for a while now but thanks for turning me on to a lot more great illustrators/designers.

  19. 19

    What about Vault 49 (Website). They should definitely be on there.

  20. 20

    While scrolling through these, I ended up speeding through the last half because, as those ahead of me have stated, they’re all very much the same. Made me think of Thomas Kincaid lost in the land of the elves and fairies style of artwork. They’re pretty illustrations but I wouldn’t call the majority of them examples of graphic design. Each is an illustration – portraying no clear message to the viewer. Illustrators can be graphic designers, and graphic designers can also be illustrators, but they are not always the same thing.
    I did especially like the clean look of the German contribution (Taobot), and the child against the skyline from Alex Cherry of California. No swirlies…. Obviously, it’s just all in the subjective tastes of viewers!

  21. 21

    @ Are these examples of a trend in graphic design, or is this a reflection of the personal taste of the author?

    I echo this sentiment. I feel that this post simply advertises the bias of it’s author and reflects a lack of understanding of objectivity in design. I am not assuming that these individual pieces were not the appropriate solution for their respective clients, but it does beg the question of whether the client simply wanted what was today’s trendy euro neon floral style. I expected more from Smashing.

    Beautiful pieces, but disappointing editorial.

  22. 22

    Joshua Blankenship

    August 22, 2007 2:39 am

    1. This isn’t graphic design; this is illustration. I know the lines between the two seem to be quite blurry these days, but the bulk of what’s posted here (talented as it is) is pretty, swirly, flourish-heavy, colorful illustration. Decoration. Style.
    2. “Masters” is a tad subjective.

  23. 23

    Thank you tons. This is some jaw dropping work and I’m going to have to now look at each and every link provided. This will deffiantely help me in my new A Level artwork.

    You helped more than you may believe :D Thanks!

  24. 24

    The empty headed naysayers are missing the point. If you think “they’re all the same” you aren’t paying any attention to detail. You fail. Goodbye.

  25. 25

    Francisco Hernandez

    August 22, 2007 3:16 am

    I made a Flek with these images, enjoy!

  26. 26

    It looks like to be a Master of Graphic Design, you need to download pictures of beautiful women and then put colourful stuff on top of these images… And that’s about it.

  27. 27

    Reinier Meenhorst

    August 22, 2007 3:32 am

    I’d agree with Justin. Great examples of elaborate style, but most lack direction. While it’s impressive what these designers can achieve in a technical sense, only a few offer a real concept or convincing storytelling, in my humble opinion.

  28. 28

    @ Smarmy

    Attention to detail by the designer is one thing, but it is second only to composition. The critics here are pointing out that the compositions are all very similar and lack originality.

    And if you don’t understand what I mean by composition, you should spare us all the ignorance of your empty headed remarks.

    Designers should stray from marrying themselves to a particular trend or style and rather ask themselves what the appropriate solution for the problem is. This is what separates designers from decorators. Peter up there said it best, you must remain objective. Otherwise, you just have a very unimportant cliche full of detail.

  29. 29

    As a graphic designer, the first lesson I learned is that clients (and the viewers) are simply NOT going to spend time “paying attention to the detail.” That is for artists, they will appreciate the talent, time, etc., involved in creating an illustration like those shown. The client and marketing usually just want you to drive the point across – and if marketing is pushing the direction, you’re very lucky if you can do an illustration versus cramming in a ton of text. How many magazine or billboard readers are really going to study the detail? How many clients are really willing to pay for services of an illustrator or agree to the time spent creating these works of art? Not nearly as many as we would wish. Pretty much everyone here has had the “opinion” that they are beautiful, pretty, etc., however, the style is very much the same – there is nothing mean or insulting in those comments.
    Apparently, you’re not open for any discussion of differing perspectives and experiences… That’s fine. I pretty much view that as a failure (and arrogant) but then that’s just my opinion. I am entitled to my opinion, you know. As are all the other “empty-headed naysayers.”

  30. 30

    These two quotes sum this posting up:

    “When you put them all toghether like this, I’d call it visual masturbation more than graphic design”

    “It looks like to be a Master of Graphic Design, you need to download pictures of beautiful women and then put colourful stuff on top of these images… And that’s about it.”

    Masters of graphic design? Yeah right. There are some talented people in this listing for sure, but let’s be honest — Chuck Anderson took this style and ran with it, and ever since then, people have biting his heels to redo the style that he enflavored (that’s a new word for you right there). Even Chuck Anderson though is not a “master of design”. How about some true masters like Wim Crouel, Otl Aicher, Herb Lubalin, Chuck Close, Wegman, Wildplakken, I mean come on…these aren’t masters. These are designers whose whole worth is a by-product of over-spending in marketing. This stuff isn’t even a style, it’s a mess. Graphic design is supposed to be about clarity of content and your message, not who can muddy up the stage the most.

    This is sad.

    And @Smarmy — great retort there. I’m the “empty-headed” one because I’m able to see through this visual clutter as being nothing more than “pretty.” I guess you probably look up to and are “inspired” by people like ElectricHeat who claim that graphic design is just about “making things look pretty.” You’re sad. You fail at life. Please eject yourself and do not try again. Do not pass go and do not collect any props. Maybe next time around in college you’ll learn a little something about concept and the meaning of design.

    And Si Scott deserves heaps of credit for pioneering his rendition of a classic type styling used in 14th and 15th century manuscripts, which has just been bastardized and abused ever since he broke into the mainstream with his stuff.

    Sad. This post really makes me sad.


↑ Back to top