Illustration Masterclass! 5 of the Most Imaginative Illustrators in the US Today!

Before I begin this post, I’d like to reassure all artists, illustrators, and art lovers out there that this is an entirely subjective list of Illustrators based on our own personal tastes. The country is simply brimming with the most wonderful and talented artists who create amazing worlds of imagination through their pencils and brushes.

To narrow this list down to just 5 artists was an impossible task. Therefore, I chose these 5 famous illustrators based on a diversity of styles and backgrounds. From the edgiest artists and mixed media/digital illustration experts  to traditional children’s book illustrators, I have chosen a brief glimpse of the super-imaginative illustration work that has inspired and affected me on a personal level in recent years.

Alex Pardee

Alex Pardee is a rockstar illustrator who rules the world of “edgy” illustration with his weird and multi-colored world of surreal and psychotic creatures. His dripping images of anthropomorphic bunnymen, blockheaded humans, and other nightmarish creatures are wildly cool and original.

alex_pardee_art

When I look at Alex’s work, I feel like I a teenager again. His illustration taps into a wide-eyed boy’s excitement in the macabre and the grotesque; something that many of us loose in trying to create “grown-up” art and design. This is not to say that his skillful and instantly recognizable style is unsophisticated, because his ideas are clever and ingenious and there is a complexity in composition and linework that sets him apart from the thousands of artists who try to copy his style.

Alex Pardee is an artist that you can feel the excitement, love, and joy of what he does through his illustrations and the horror he brings.

alex_pardee_art

Go to http://www.eyesuckink.com/ to see more of Alex Pardee’s Eyeball melting work.

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David Shannon

I first encountered David Shannon’s work whilst shopping for picture books with my 4 year old daughter and discovered the book How I Became a Pirate (one of the best ways to discover great illustration is by shopping for picture books in the kids section.)

david_shannon_art

The first thing I got from David’s work was an eye-widening blast of color and excitement in his illustrations. The intricately painted characters have big expressions and wild movements and they inhabit close and crowded environments that you feel like you’re sharing. There’s also a real sophistication and clever intent with his illustration style, particularly in his book A Bad Case of Stripes that harkens back to a 1950’s “Rockwell” America of innocence and mischief.

There is a phenomenal level of detail and skill shown in David’s beautiful illustrations but more importantly, there is an unrestrained creativity and imagination in both the stories he tells and the way he draws them.

david_shannon_2

Find out more about David Shannon’s work at the scholastic website: http://www.scholastic.com/titles/nodavid/davidshannon.htm

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Brad Holland

Brad Holland is one of the “old guard” when it comes to American illustration. In a career that spans nearly 40 years of contributions to Playboy, Time, Newsweek, the New York Times, and other big publications, his work is instantly recognizable to illustration fans.

brad_holland_illustration

Brad is incredibly skilled at rendering in a soft, pastel technique that gives much of his illustration a surreal and dreamlike quality. Coupled with his Magritte-style view of the world, he represents a unique artistic perspective that explores the world of the psyche and the strange.

Influencing generations of artists and illustrators, Brads prolific work is more than merely “illustration” and is considered by many, including myself, to be the highest form of art.

brad_holland_illustration

Go to http://www.bradholland.net/ to see more of his amazing work

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Jae Lee

Jae Lee is one of the most famous comic book artists working in the industry today. For me, his work on The Dark Tower series of comic books is some of the finest illustrations that I have ever seen.

jae_lee_illustration

Unlike many of his contemporaries, Jae has a beautifully composed and constructed “cinematic” quality to his work. He constructs his environments in a vivid color palette that makes his work distinct but also “other-wordly” as if one had stepped into a comic book fantasy of his creation. His characters are not only action-packed but are often wonderfully bizarre and edgy in comparison to other comic book artists; the way they move and inhabit their environments is oddly brilliant.

Jae has an expressiveness in his work that sets him apart and turns his comic illustration into “high art”. His work reads so much darker, moodier, and more captivating than one would expect from the genre.

jae_lee_illustration

Buy Jae Lee originals at the following website: http://www.albertmoy.com/ArtistGalleryRoom.asp?ArtistId=544

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Mark Burkhardt

Mark’s work bridges the gap between artists such as Bosch and Gainsborough and the modern world.  His illustrations are quirky and cool and represent a modern and sophisticated graphical spin on a classical style of painting.

mark_burkhart_illustration

First and foremost, his illustration has a great sense-of-humor and reflects a love of the weird and absurd. He creates a highly stylized world of Greco-Roman rock stars, flaming horses, and romantic dinosaurs that is sometimes dark in subject matter but always brightly colored with delicious candy shades. Painting in his signature “cracked oil paint style”, he has illustrated for SONY records, Graphis Magazine, Communication Arts and a laundry list of major brands and products.

It’s unsurprising that his work is in such a high demand. His brilliant and imaginative style is something that would elevate any brand  or subject matter.

mark_burkhart_illustration

See more of Mark’s awesome work at http://www.marcart.net/Home.html

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