The best illustration projects of 2017

Brexit, Edel Rodriquez’s magazine covers of Trump, London recent grad Thomas Moore, flora and fauna and more.

As the year draws to a close we reflect back on the weird, beautiful, political and comedic illustration projects we’ve featured here on Digital Arts.

Over the past 12 months we’ve seen the artistic community react to Brexit with ME & EU postcards to Europe, Edel Rodriquez’s brutal magazine covers of Trump, as well interpretations of London from recent UAL grad Thomas Moore.

Take a look at our top 11 illustration projects of 2017.

Image: Wenyi Geng

News organisations already had the huge countdown in place, and many watched on as Mrs May read her six-page letter voicing hope for a “deep and special partnership”, and calls to refrain from calling Brexit a “divorce”.

In response to Brexit, a large team of UK creatives came together to write and design a collection of postcards to be sent across Europe as a means to reach out and remain connected post the EU referendum.

ME & EU was a way to show reconnection with Europe after Brexit was underway, and 116 postcards were mailed out across all 27 EU countries. The project was nominated for this year’s Beazley Designs of the Year.

Image: James Fishlock

See the full story here.

You may not recognise the name Edel Rodriguez, but you’re likely to have seen his artwork before and since the 2016 US elections on the covers of prominent publications such as TIME and Der Spiegel.

As a Cuban immigrant to America during the Mariel boatlift crisis in the 1970s, Edel says politics and migration have been potent his entire life – and art is a way to deal with them.

His prolific, emotionally-charged illustrations began depicting President Trump’s surprise election, and continued on to Trump’s responses following the Charlottesville riots involving Neo-Nazis, more recently Trump's comments towards North Korea leader Kim Jong-un regarding nuclear strikes and his response to US gun laws following the Las Vegas shooting. Edel's illustrations have been circling online among millions of viewers and appeared on pickets in the Women’s March in Washington DC – and he’s constantly vocal on his own Twitter account.

Edel told us what it’s like to be vulnerable with his beliefs and realising the power of illustration in the realm of social justice.

Read the full story here.

Advertisement. Article continues below

In Woonyoung Jung’s charming illustrative world, women hike mountains with cheetahs, surf with dinosaurs and ride on helicopter wings. In fact, the mid-action snapshots of Woon’s characters makes my life seem very mundane.  

Woon, who now works as a visual developmentartist at Dreamworks Animations,  depicts athletic female characters exploring alongside friends, playing sport and also carrying out everyday activities, like going to the gym or a yoga class. The action is the focus, rather than the women’s bodies – a refreshing reflection of femininity as it is today.

But although it’s safe to say Woon’s characters are relatable to many young women – wearing familiar streetwear brands like New Balance, Nike Supreme, and using familiar technology (smartphones and DSLR cameras) – there are a few strange additions to what would be otherwise realistic scenes. Like the giant dinosaurs. Or the cats that seem to pop up in non-domestic locations, or the fact that characters wear witch hats.

Read the full story here.

Yukai Du uses colourful illustrations and popping animation to explain concepts such as prime numbers, science and space, in a way that simplifies and demands attention. It’s a unique talent, and one we’re pretty jealous of.

From editorial illustrations depicting new year resolutions, to animations of the Hubble telescope for TED-Ed, to illustrating an entire book on famous scientists and their discoveries – Yukai is not afraid to tackle the hard-hitting topics. An impressive list of clients include a huge range of editorials – The Telegraph, The Guardian, The Washington Post, New York Times, BBC – and Adobe System, WIRED, Ted-Ed and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Read the full story here.

Charlotte Day is a master of both sides of the coin when it comes to botany.

The London-based illustrator trained in horticulture before studying at Chelsea College of Art where she realised her incredible talent for hand-painting flora brings great satisfaction. A deep love for plants began in her childhood where she was surrounded by natural beauty.

Acknowledging plants as a source of beauty but also essential to our survival, Charlotte’s illustrations not only admire the varying organic shapes of flora, but also reflect her underlying philosophy toward sustainability.

Read the full story here.

Advertisement. Article continues below

Not quite illustration, but absolutely exquisite, Diana Beltran-Herrera has exceptional talent when it comes to paper. Using an impeccable eye for colour and composition, mixed with her appreciation and love for botanical and natural history, the Columbian-raised artist has created a unique paper sculpture style.

Growing up immersed in a diverse range of local fauna and flora and species from other parts of the world – such as migratory birds that come from North America – Diana connects to this in a peaceful way through sculpting animals and plants.

See more of her sculptures here.

Iconic London-based illustrator Rod Hunt has dedicated an entire artwork to President Donald Trump’s impact on the fashion industry for the Business of Fashion - a global publication headquartered in the UK covering fashion news, analysis and business intelligence.

Rod turns his character-filled landscape style into a visualisation of a post-Trump reality for American fashion brands and its impact on trade, manufacturing and immigrants. Rod was commissioned for the Business of Fashion’s report - Doing Business in Trump’s America - part of its special print addition, America.

Rod has also hidden the main players of Trump's administration throughout the illustration "for an added extra bit of fun".

See if you can spot Melania Trump, Steve Bannon, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Vladimir Putin, Jeff Sessions, Sean Spicer, Kellyanne Conway and Rex Tillerson.

See the illustration in detail here.

British illustrator David Doran's great love for travelling, experiencing culture and vintage travel posters has propelled his latest book - a beautiful treasure trove of 32 pull-out prints illustrating major cities around the world.

Despite being David's debut book, Alphabet Cities: Around the World in 32 Pull-Out Prints carries finesse and character. The typographic alphabet book was published by Penguin Random House last week, but David worked on the project for over a year -– drawing each print by hand before applying a digital finish.

The book contains posters of 30 different locations, taking inspiration from vintage design such as 1950s adverts and early Underground posters. The prints are designed to be be pulled out and framed, with interesting facts about each city placed on the back of each one.

See original sketches of the book here.

Advertisement. Article continues below

Dragons roam freely and boats are paddled across the air in illustrator Wenyi Geng’s form of a utopian world.

Her expansive landscapes are brought to life by intriguing and often lonesome characters whose existence begs a hundred questions like, who are they and where did they come from?

Wenyi uses ink and pen to paint gorgeous environments of surrealism with a warm, autumn-based colour palette.

Although she finds it hard to pin down her exact 'style', she’s heavily inspired by Japanese manga novels and films, nature documentaries, and iconic artists such as Moebius and Matsumoto Taiyou.

See more here.

Apparently men who play the guitar are instantly 90 percent more attractive, Nintendo's Mario game is named after the Italian landlord of the Nintendo US office in the early 80s, and the Walkman was created so Sony's co-founder could listen to opera whilst flying.

London-based 3D illustrator and designer Matt Wood has spent hours Googling random facts like these to accompany a beautifully bizarre array of dream-like illustrations for his A-Z series on childhood.

See more of his postcards here.

It’s that time of year again (whether we like to admit it or not) when you start to notice the Christmas street lights turning on, Christmas ads on television begin to play, and in this case, shop window displays be unveiled in an enormous ode to all things Christmassy.

Fortnum & Mason – arguably one of the most quintessentially British stores along with Harrods and Selfridges (which garner loads of attention for their annual shop window displays) – this year has undergone a magical makeover by Welsh illustrator Chervelle Fryer. She was picked to be the store's Christmas aesthetic leader with her speciality in delightful animal characters.

Check out her brilliant 2D illustrations turned 3D window displays here.

Advertisement. Article continues below