The illustrators who'll kick off the 2020s in style

No, Banksy isn't one of these best up-and-coming illustrators.

It's that time again, when creative platforms are predicting the big trends and names for the year ahead, whether in the field of colour, art, design or stock photography.

Nothing unusual there, considering we're halfway through January, but there is a twist this year considering 2020 is the start of a new decade, giving matters a different sort of weight.

Each year we ask top creative agencies to nominate the best up-and-coming illustrators who'll be defining how all your favourite reads and brands 'sing' visually, choices which this year challenge the very notion of an illustrator is and can be.

Instead of just 2D artistry, the 14 illustrators below also work in disparate fields as sculpture, animation, plasticine and fine art. It seems the changing times mean changing ways to draw a viewer in, and the 2020s will see a need for illustration students and newcomers to adapt their skillset for whatever the occasion.

The agencies this time round include Heart – who exclusively announce a brand new signing below for Digital Arts – alongside JSR, Central Illustration, Colagene, Grand Matter, Folio Art, and Jelly. Read the explanation behind their choices whilst enjoying some phenomenal artwork, handpicked by the agencies as the most representative and exciting of their portfolios.

Folio Art: Peter Henderson

Peter Henderson’s simple yet undeniably charming work would set him apart from the crowd of young artists and illustrators, even if his multiple awards did not. Specialising in vector images and animation, Peter counts travel, motion and exploration among his many inspirations.

Among his clients have been Wall Street Journal, Siemens, Apple, The New York Times, Twitter, Medium, Landor, Boots UK, Rolex and Cree Inc.

Folio Art: Eleni Debo

Eleni Debo is a Belgian illustrator, currently living in the alpine mountains of Italy. Combining analogue and digital techniques, her work is regularly featured in newspapers, books and magazines; notably, she was also crowned Editorial Category Winner at AOI's World Illustration Awards 2019.

As a conceptual thinker, Eleni has an incredible talent for distilling often complex stories and subject matter into a single thought-provoking image.

Her clients include Electronic Arts, Affinity, Culture Trip, Metaleap Creative, Chicago Design Museum, This is Colossal and BBC Sky at Night.

Jelly: Eva Cremers

We have just recently signed up Eva Cremers to Futures here at Jelly. Eva has so far worked with It’s Nice That, Pull&Bear, The New York Times – and has interned at Snask in Sweden plus Man vs Machine here in the UK.

Eva comes from a design background but her drive and self-taught CGI ability  along with her charm and execution of her characters   is just fantastic.

Jelly: Freya Betts

Freya has been part of Futures for just over a year and we have been supporting her in her first year full time freelance – and it’s been excellent. She is definitely onto big things for 2020.

Last year saw some top secret projects (all will be revealed...) plus a trip to New York to speak at the Apple Store to celebrate her work for their Apple Original Series ‘For All Mankind’ plus her first billboard with Anomaly’s LNER campaign. Watch this space…

Central Illustration: Stefano Colferai

Stefano is a plasticine artist who has been on our books a few months only. He also animates his work, if you want to take a look.

The Italian artist decided to get his hands dirty after failing at a football career. In 2014, after studying graphic arts, he moved away from digital illustration to creating three-dimensional sculpture, inspired by a Disney Pixar exhibition.

Combining his plasticine modelling skills, animation and a dose of irony, Stefano brings to life a humorous and idiosyncratic world on the desk in front of him.

Central Illustration: David de las Heras

David de las Heras is an amazing painter who has been with Central for a few years now.

He is an artist and illustrator based in Barcelona and he is currently working at the Domingo Studio. He studied art at the University of the Basque Country specialising in painting and as a result is exquisitely talented with a brush.

There is a harmonious mix of contemporary graphic forms with his classical training that create something both endearing and adept. Through illustration David found a more expressive and graphical way of communicating.

Colagene: Francis Léveillée

Francis studied graphic design at the University of Quebec in Montreal and ESAG Penninghen, a graduate school of graphic arts and design in Paris. His images are punchy, colourful and full of textures.

He describes his artistic style in one word: 'croche', a Quebec expression that can be summed up as 'crooked'. He lives and works in Montreal.

Francis has also co-founded the motorcycle clothing brand Moteur Fucker (see above).

Colagene: Laura Liedo

Laura's style lies in simple shapes, flat colours, and varied textures. Her illustrations are usually conceptual, in search of metaphor and double meaning.

She likes experimenting with colours and she looks for tenderness and humour in her characters. Her medium is mainly digital but she also likes playing with paper clippings, all while looking for the unexpected in the image.

Select clients include The New Yorker, Washington Post, The Boston Globe, and Harper's Bazaar.

JSR: Charlotte Mei

Charlotte Mei is an artist and illustrator who works and exhibits widely in the UK and internationally.

Charlotte’s approach to creating sculpture, paintings, illustration and animation is as unburdened as can be. 

With bold and playful use of colour, form, and gestural mark-making she creates landscapes and abstracted figures, still lifes and spirited portraits.

Clients include Hermès, Sony Music, Casio, Beams, Rimowa, the V&A Museum, Converse, Smythson, and Nike. Charlotte lives and works in London. 

JSR: Tiffany Beucher 

Tiffany Beucher is a London-based illustrator. Born in a quiet town in the outskirts of Paris, she discovered her passion for art from the covers of picture books at the age of five.

Her career began with a degree in graphic design, followed by a year studying illustration, after which she moved to the UK, where she’s been developing her skills and style ever since.

Tiffany’s work is instantly recognisable with its clean design and vibrant colours. She draws inspiration from the people she meets, turning them into bold characters, full of life and personality. Her illustrations are playful and relatable, mirroring real life seen through a positive lens.   

Her versatile style has led Tiffany to work on a wide variety of projects, for clients including Facebook, Dogs Trust, Monocle Magazine, Lagom Design and CNN. 

Grand Matter: Bryce Wymer

Bryce Wymer is an award winning visual artist currently based in Brooklyn, New York. His surreal and dream-like works take the form of painted and mixed-media illustrations as well as murals and installations. Clients include Hidden Records, The Drake Hotel, and AirBnb.

His extensive personal works exploring human social progression and the driving relation between the powerful and the powerless have been exhibited in galleries around the world.

Grand Matter: Kris Andrew Small

Sydney based artist & designer Kris Andrew Small creates abstract, energetic and flamboyant pieces using photo-based collage, texture and typography. His work is the result of multiple influences, in particular his childhood growing up in the 90s in a tropical part of Australia.

Having worked on a broad variety of projects across advertising, fashion, and branding, Kris has collaborated with clients including Adobe, Nike, Samsung and Sydney Opera House.

Heart: Masha Krasnova-Shabaeva

2020 will see some exciting additions to Heart's roster, including Masha Krasnova-Shabaeva, a Russian artist living and working in Rotterdam.

Masha's distinctive illustrations have been commissioned by clients such as Esquire and Rolling Stone, and she regularly collaborates with architecture firms in the Netherlands. Alongside her commercial projects, Masha exhibits her work internationally.

Highlights for the year ahead include the publication of Masha's (as yet untitled) graphic novel and a collaboration with the Dutch fashion brand Masha Maria.

Heart: Ben Jones

Manchester-based artist Ben Jones uses a mixture of printmaking and collage to create his unique artworks which are often historical in feeling but equally resonating and political.

Ben's abstract collages feature in a monthly column for History Today and he works regularly with The New York Times, The New Yorker and International Investor.

Beyond his editorial work, Ben's also produced many book covers and last year he illustrated The Folio Society’s edition of The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad.

Read next: Our Creative Graduates guide

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