The rising stars of design

2008 is set to be one of the most exciting years for new talent from around the world. Check out the names you should be looking to commission and be inspired by in the coming 12 months.

Across the world, outstanding illustrators are emerging from design schools and creative firms – setting up on their own and wowing creatives with their new takes on old styles.

Here we’ve collected nine artists that we believe will be making a huge impact to the world of graphic design in 2008. All of these artists are relatively new to the commercial illustration market.

Some graduated in the past few years, while others have worked in-house for design firms and have recently gone freelance. All are available for commission.

Though hand-drawn styles are currently very much in fashion, we predict that a diversity of techniques will find favour in the coming 12 months – as illustrators mix traditional and digital techniques in Illustrator and Photoshop in unusual and eye-catching ways.

Drawing, painting, photography, typography, vector-based media and ‘found art’ will be combined, used or ignored to suit the styles of individuals and projects. Our chosen artists come from a wide range of backgrounds and disciplines, including editorial illustration, fashion, book covers, and advertising.

Stylistically, they run the gamut from the photomontages of Danilo Rodrigues and Murilo Maciel to the hand-drawn styling of Erin Petson – and from the bright cartoons of Mike Dolan to the dark landscapes of Nick Mott.

All are open to working on a wide variety of projects across print media. Most of these illustrators are from the UK and the US, but we’ve also included two artists from Brazil – which is proving to be a hotbed of design talent. So sit back and enjoy the best of the world’s up-&-coming design talent.

Name: Murilo Maciel
Age: 27
Location: Brazil
Email: [email protected]
Web site:

“My work is slightly psychedelic but mainly very organic and dirty,” says Murilo Maciel, a freelance illustrator from Brazil. “It consists of a big mix of medias – photography, vectors, hand-drawn and painting. I consider my work quite experimental.”

Murilo has been working under the creative identity of Grafikdust since November 2006. He studied advertising for three years in Brazil but quit when he become an illustrator.

“In 2004, myself and a friend decided to sell photographs and illustrations in Portobello market, London. He produced some nice shots and I started to illustrate – that’s when I realized my love for illustration.”

London and Portobello market was a “brilliant time,” he says. “We barely covered our costs, but the fact of being there, meeting people and exposing our stuff to a lot of people was just priceless.”

Since then he has worked for a dozen Brazilian magazines as well as Playboy, Latin America’s largest communications company the Abril Group, Blackhole snowboards and small projects for Coca Cola and Pepsi.

Showcase features in design magazines around the world have also exposed his work to international agencies. Inspiration comes from music, movies and fashion in the main, but he is also “very inspired” by “women, art, other artists, people, local culture and old magazines”.

He says his main aspiration is to keep having fun. He would also like to do more work in advertising. “My creative challenges are always the same: improve my work, learn new and improve old skills and experiment as much as I can. I think that if I do that well all the rest will be a consequence.”

Photoshop is his main tool, but he also uses Illustrator – “very flexible” – and draws and paints with watercolours too. “I think that gives a very personal look to my work,” he says.

Name: Emily Forgot
Age: 25
Location: London
Email: [email protected]
Web site:

Originally from Sheffield, Emily Forgot now works in London. She has a degree in graphic arts from the Liverpool school of art and design and has since worked on developing her style, which she describes as: “Flat, graphic, nostalgic, sometimes humorous, always bold, hopefully atmospheric and original.”

She came to notice through the young creative network (YCN) where she won several competitions after graduating. This, she says, gave her the exposure and confidence to continue.

“YCN are particularly good at giving recent graduates a leg up and exposing new creative talent. In fact they are still very supportive towards me three years down the line,” she says.

To date she has worked for the Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Dazed and Confused as well as big brands such as Orange and various design and advertising agencies. She enjoys the creative freedom of working this way and hopes to continue.

“I like where possible to be involved in the concept and ideas stage of a job. I would love to do window displays and more 3D work too.”

Inspiration comes easily she says, and from everyday things: “Things that make me smile, strange juxtapositions and novelty teapots, beautifully composed photographs and wide open spaces, graphics annuals and old books, vintage textiles and poster art.”

As well as continuing to work freelance, she would like to work in New York. In her work she uses Photoshop, “to add more depth and detail,” Illustrator “to plan and draw”, and biros, “for rough sketches”.

So far no one job stands out for her in her career. “Its all very gradual,” she says. “Winning competitions, getting more recognition, being asked to have work in books and shows, getting an agent (ZeegenRush), having interviews. All these things are memorable moments that reassure me that I’m on the right track.”

Name: Danilo Rodrigues
Age: 22
Location: Brazil
Email: [email protected]
Web site:

Danilo Rodrigues is a young designer from Brazil. He lives in a small coastal town called São Vicente and graduated in Multimedia Design from Senac in Sao Paulo. Since graduating he has worked on Internet projects, illustration and motion design.

Recent work includes designing for Creamfields Brazil, Telemig Celular, Wired Music and Lo Kik Records. Working with Wired Music in 2006 on a Web-design project was, “a great experience” he says, mainly because of the creative freedom he was given throughout the project.

The site also had good feedback from other designers. He recently put his own portfolio online and as a result was featured in BG Magazine, Zupi, on several design Web sites and also in Digital Arts.

“I do not think I have a style in my work,” he says. “I think this is one of the biggest mistakes made by designers and illustrators – I’m always inspired by different things, it fascinates me, and I always try to pass this on in my work.”

His plans for 2008 include continuing to work in design and illustration while learning more about motion graphics and 3D.

Name: Mike Dolan
Age: 24
Location: Dorset
Email: [email protected]

Mike Dolan was born and raised in a small market town in Worcestershire, England. He graduated from Bath Spa university with a degree in graphic design and illustration in 2006. Now he lives in the countryside in “the depths of Dorset”.

Mike hand draws before digitizing his work. “I like to use more traditional tools for my initial work, so plenty of pens, pencils and that kind of thing. Then I like to use a Mac for cleaning up drawings and adding the colour.

“I find the flexibility of digital media allows more freedom in producing the final outcome – I don’t become so precious over things.” He works towards a balance between detail and graphic boldness: “With a strong overall composition to hold it all together.”

Work to date includes illustrating for The Guardian, KesselsKramer, FHM, John Brown Publishing, Red Bull F1 Magazine, Crush Design, Seattle Metropolitan Magazine and The Illustrated Ape.

Happy to take a commission from “almost anyone,” he is inspired by “a whole range of things”. If he gets stuck he turns to his “creative well”: a collection of old stock photography, Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) prints and the sculptures of Paul Manship, a prominent American sculptor of the first half of the 20th Century.

He gets a kick out of seeing his work published. “I don’t want to sound corny, but the first time you see your work in print is pretty memorable. Knowing that one of your images is in a publication that sits on shelves up and down the country – it certainly does give you a little buzz.”

In the future he wants to keep drawing and producing good work. “There are always new techniques to learn, software to master and psychological tricks for getting you out of those creative ruts. So a lot to keep me on my toes!”

Name: Judi Knight
Age: 22
Location: Macclesfield
Email: [email protected]
Web site:

Judi Knight lives in Macclesfield, North West England. She graduated in summer 2007 from Stockport College with a degree in illustration. After her course she was asked to become part of the design collective, Giant Illustration.

“I was amazed by that,” she says, “it gave me a big confidence boost.” She has recently been short listed to be in the July 2008 Association of Illustrators Annual and the Refresh competition (

“I entered thinking I wouldn’t have a chance. But it has given me the confidence to believe I have just as much chance as any other designer.”

Judi likes her illustrations to look, “colourful, fun and decorative.” She uses a variety of textures created using pen and ink which are then developed in Photoshop. “I also use a mixture of collage and photography,” she says.

Inspiration-wise, she says old photographs especially fascinate her. “A paintbrush mark, a torn piece of paper I can use on a collage. I have a large collection of unusual objects, antiques, books and costume jewellery. They sit on shelves waiting to be used,” she says.

Artists inspire too. Favourites include Alphonse Mucha, Charles Robinson, Aya Kato and Sam Weber. “I’m especially inspired by the beautiful use of pen and ink in Charles Robinson’s paintings. This is something I want to explore more in my own style.”

Additionally, she adds, “People’s lives, stories and events in history also inspire me.” Currently working with design agency Onside Creative she is also working on a stationary range, and hopes to illustrate children’s books in the near future – something she already has some experience of.

“I worked for a well known West Midlands design agency and did some children’s illustrations. They gave my portfolio a new lease of life – it’s bright and fun. When not working Judi says she likes to, “walk my dog, read books, watch films and meet other creative people.”

Name: Nick Mott
Age: 35
Location: Cornwall
Email: [email protected]
Web site:

Nick Mott lives on the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall – as far as you can go without dropping into the ocean. It suits him: “I’m inspired by winter trees and music,” he says.

“I graduated in 2007 with a first in Illustration from University College Falmouth.” Already he has had several commissions from The Guardian Weekend magazine for his fairly dark work.

He doesn’t object to that description: “I think my work has a certain darkness and melancholy about it, as well as an edge,” he says. “I suppose that to some extent it reflects the kinds of art and illustration that I appreciate,” he says.

“Surrealism, Dadaism, classic printmaking – especially etching, Eastern European poster art, children’s art and classic fairy tale illustration.”

Loathe to describe his style he says instead, “What I am trying to create, is a body of work that continues and sits within the great tradition of simply drawing.”

Nick “stumbled across” his current working method. “I’ve always loved drawing and the print quality of analog photocopiers. I had been messing about using drawing in combination with photocopiers, and then one day I had a truly Eureka moment. Now the pencil and the print are getting to the point of being indistinguishable from each other.”

He says his most important tools are a black pencil crayon, a pair of scissors and a black and white photocopier. “Initially my work is created purely in an analog fashion,” he says.

“All my textures, line and mark making come from manipulating a combination of those three elements.” He uses Photoshop in the final stage, but only to add or alter colour. “I like the fact there are digital tools that can give the illustration a final lift,” he says.

Name: Erin Petson
Age: 27
Location: London
Email: [email protected]
Web site:

Erin Petson lives in East London. She moved there after graduating from Liverpool art school in 2004, where she studied graphic arts and specialized in illustration.

“My style of work has evolved from a love of drawing techniques and collage,” she says. “I draw mainly figurative pieces in the form of fashion illustration. I use pencil, ink, paper, paint and collage to create artwork, which has abstract textural elements.”

Her first break was a commission for Tank magazine while still a student. Her graduation show was featured in Creative Review’s annual showcase, and since then her work has featured for The Guardian, New York Times, Elle, Marie Claire, Time Out and magazines and newspapers in the US, China and Japan.

“Last year I was asked to be involved in a book called the Age of Feminine Drawing, which I was very excited about. It’s wonderful to see my work in books, to feel it’s been archived permanently in some way,” she says.

Creatively she is inspired by, “Everything!” she says. “Everyday life, art exhibitions, magazines, fine art catalogues and books, traveling, old junk shops, old books or magazines, textiles.”

She adds: “It inspires me to see illustrators who work in multidisciplinary ways from animation to big installations to fashion design.”

In that vein she says she would like to work with Hort graphic design in Germany, or do a serious of fashion illustrations for a big name like Chloe, Vivienne Westwood or Stella McCartney. A commission for Vogue would go down well too, she admits.

Her main digital tools are her scanner and Photoshop. “I use Photoshop to layout work in certain compositions and build layers not unlike printmaking,” she says.

Career highs are numerous, but to pick one out would be difficult she says. “To be honest I remember every experience, be it an editorial commission or advertising. Your work is so personal to you that for people to commission your style and see it published or exhibited is a great personal feat.”

Name: Richard Wilkinson
Age: 35
Location: London
Email: [email protected]
Web site:

Richard Wilkinson is North London born but South Coast bred – his family moved when he was three. After studying fine art he moved back to London where he worked as a sound designer, in commercials production and then in motion graphics.

It was only two years ago that he went back to his design roots and began work as a freelance illustrator. He signed to Central Illustration Agency in April 2007 and, he says, “hasn’t looked back since”.

His first commission was for the Telegraph magazine – a relationship that continues today. His style is recognizable: “I nearly always use old paper or book covers as my starting point which defines my palette to some extent,” he says.

“From there it’s reworking the original drawing in clear linework and block colours in Photoshop.” As well as the Telegraph, other clients include Vodafone, Penguin Books, Time magazine, GQ, American Express, the Times and the Financial Times.

“I’d love to work more for Penguin,” he says. “They have such a great history for commissioning cover illustrations.”

In fact his cover for the Aldous Huxley Brave New World ranks as one of his career highs. “Seeing one of my pieces enlarged to wall-size at the CIA summer show was very good too,” he adds.

Inspired by “sunshine, good food, good music, lucid dreams and the work of great artists and designers,” he says his plans for the near future include a solo show in New York in early 2009, and animation.

“I used After Effects a lot in a previous life so I want to incorporate those skills to bring my illustration to life,” he says. “I can see it clearly in my mind but making it a reality will be a challenge, I’m sure.”

He uses a Mac G5 dual 2G – “because my files can be more than 4GB” – a scanner and a Wacom tablet and pen to develop work done in pencil, pen and acrylic.

Name: Tom Bagshaw
Age: North of 30
Location: Bath
Email: [email protected]
Web site:

Tom Bagshaw calls himself “the wrong side of 30” and dates his HND graphic-design training back to, “the heady days of the launch of the first PowerBook”. Originally from Wimborne, near Bournemouth on England’s South Coast, he has lived in Bath for ten years.

His work tends to be figurative, and “leans towards a more detailed, realistic approach,” with a palette of muted tones. His work has been described as a “unique blend” of well-rendered, realistic figurative imagery with very clean graphic elements.

“That sums it up quite nicely,” he says. Clients include Saatchi Design, GQ, Darkhorse, Large Smith & Walford, Indigo3, Tribal, Carlson Marketing and Access Advertising.

A high point came in summer 2007 when his work was included in the book Two Faced: The Changing Face of Portraiture, by Darren Firth. Another high - one of the nicest - was seeing his work blown up to wall size at the Central Illustration Consequences show, also in 2007.

“Music, art, design, photography and fashion,” are his main influences. And indeed, he would like to do more fashion advertising work, as he cites it as one of his main influences.

Tools of choice include Photoshop, Painter, Illustrator and ArtRage, but he says he will use any software that the work requires.

“Photoshop is usually the focal application," he says while “Painter still has the best brushes. Its ability to mix paint is the most intuitive so I use it for anything where blended colours are needed - usually skin tones.”

He rates the little-known ArtRage as "perfect" for sketching out ideas and heavy texture effects. It is also, he says, “such a fun application to use”.

Looking forward he says his main aim for the next year or two is to keep developing his style, and work faster. “That’s the one drawback of doing highly rendered pieces,” he says, “the time it takes to create.”

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