How to elevate your artwork from the good-looking to the truly stunning? Alice Ross speaks to artists who have mastered the secrets of beauty

Many digital artists strive every day to achieve that quality we call beauty. Those who succeed, who create the kind of images that draw you closer simply so you can run your eyes over the contours and details, have pulled off one of the hardest artistic feats of all.

Beauty in art is much more than skin-deep: drawing a pretty girl is easy, but transforming her into an image that seems to shimmer before the viewer demands skill in colour and composition, and total mastery of style.

Pure by Pierre Doucin

For Danish artist Mads Berg (madsberg.dk), it’s all about execution. “A beautiful piece of art is one that’s done with skill, grace and sensitivity,” he says. The content isn’t that important when the aesthetics rule.”

“I think the most essential requirement for an artwork to look beautiful is that it be well balanced,” says Murilo Maciel (grafikdust.com), a Brazilian artist based in Vancouver, Canada. “That means good composition and colour combinations.” His photomontages have appeared in adverts for Coca-Cola and Safeway, among others.

Ana Montiel’s Spring Layers is part of an overarching collection of work which she calls Visual Mantras

“It’s also essential that the artwork be well finished. It’s a shame when you see something that looks nice at first but when you look closer, the textures are blurred, for example. Paying extra attention to detail usually makes something more beautiful.”

Raphaël Vicenzi, a Belgian illustrator who works under the creative handle mydeadpony (mydeadpony.com), says balance is all-important. He has made his name with artfully roughed-up designs featuring elegantly wasted women: in his oeuvre, well-worn cliché is punctured by gritty style.

“I don’t know if my artworks are graceful; I try to balance the feminine side of my works with rougher ideas, edges and colours,” he says. “It’s a balance I try to achieve constantly. I try to listen to my own sense of beauty, as imperfect as it is, and find inner rules.”

A Patient Love by mydeadpony

Raphaël adds that his composition is instinctive: “There is a symmetry within most of my works, but it’s not something I can describe. It’s more like I try things out until a balance is reached by itself.

“It’s when I don’t listen to that inner voice that things go wrong.”

Artistic heritage
For Ana Montiel (anamontiel.com), composition is also instinctive while being informed by centuries of artistic heritage.