Colin McElwaine

On the lookout for some inspiration from the world of editorial illustration, or perhaps you’re on the hunt for a new artist to collaborate with? Whatever your needs, The Association of Illustrators is bursting with top talent.

The leading professional body for illustrators in the UK, The Association of Illustrators has been championing creatives in the field since 1973. And having just announced the shortlist to the World Illustration Awards 2021, it’s unearthed an array of artistic talent that’s sure to inspire creatives at every stage of their career.

To give you an idea of high calibre work that has been shortlisted, we’ve rounded up 10 of the most impressive editorial illustrators who have caught our eye. Read on for a crash course on the brightest stars currently blazing a trail in this industry.

1. Felicia Fortes

An inspiring illustrator who weaves an eye for design into their work, Felicia Fortes’ clients include Göteborg Film Festival, Offside Press and Faktum. Popular thanks to her colourful and detailed illustrations, Felicia’s work can be split into two styles: flat compositions and those drawn with textured, graphite-based details. With an interest in human behaviour, relationships and psychology, she tries to capture our thoughts and feelings in a fun and engaging way.

Illustration for Göteborgs-Posten by Felicia Fortes

2. Maarten Peeters

Antwerp-based freelance illustrator Maarten Peeters turned to editorial work because it combines his passion for creating conceptual images and his love of print. Working on a Wacom tablet to preserve the spontaneous nature of rough drawing, Maarten then transfers his sketches to Photoshop to finish them off. His illustrations have appeared in De Morgen Magazine, Flanders DC and Planadvisor Magazine.

Maarten Peeters

3. Benjamin Flouw

Benjamin Flouw is an artist based in Marseille. A lifelong nature lover, Benjamin grew up on a diet of wildlife documentaries and continues to enjoy botany books as an adult. It’s no surprise then that he’s concerned with environmental issues, and likes to create illustrations that include elements of the natural world. His winning mix of colourful geometric shapes and textures has seen him work with The New York Times and Variety.

Benjamin Flouw

4. Colin McElwaine

Australia-based artist Colin McElwaine is still a couple of years away from graduating from Queensland College of Art, but he’s already racked up editorial commissions from the likes of the New York Times Style Magazine, Big Issue and The Financial Times. And as well as producing editorial illustrations, Colin also works as a designer with a focus on motion graphics. We like how he blends design and illustration together to create truly harmonious compositions.

Spike’s America by Colin McElwaine

5. Yizhou He

Currently studying and working in Italy with an MFA in graphic design, Yizhou He creates stunning illustrations on his iPad using Procreate. He describes illustrating as a way of taking note of his inner feelings and points out that line and colour have been used to record our thoughts and emotions since the birth of mankind. His illustrations have appeared in the pages of SUPER magazine.

Yizhou He

6. Stephan Schmitz

Working with both traditional and digital tools, Stephan Schmitz is an editorial illustrator from the Dominican Republic. Having studied illustration at the Lucerne School of Applied Sciences and Arts, he now specialises in creating deceptively simple compositions and images that pack a huge amount of information. The longer you look at them, the more you get out of them.

Stephan Schmitz

7. Rosie Leech

Unlike a lot of illustrators on this list, Rosie Leech specialises in traditional, analogue mediums. This includes printmaking, drawing and ceramics. When she’s not illustrating her first book, she creates small, precise illustrations that are rooted in narrative. Her beautiful, intricate work has appeared in ‘Pressing Matters’, ‘Counterpoint’ and ‘Salt and Wonder’ magazines.

Rosie Leech

8. Paweł Jońca

Paweł Jońca is a Warsaw-based professional artist whose illustrations deal with psychological and new media issues. His work is instantly recognisable thanks to his bold colours and character designs, and his clever sense of humour helps to turn his compositions into witty visual puns. Paweł’s illustrations have appeared in Label Magazine, Playboy and The Hollywood Reporter to name a few.

Paweł Jońca

9. Mengjie Wang

An independent illustrator from China currently studying an MA in illustration at Kingston University, Mengjie Wang is inspired by social reality and childhood fantasies. This heady mix can be seen in her work, which conjures up surreal images of weighty issues such as self-image. Her clever use of contrasting warm and cool colours also help to make her images leap off the page and screen. Mengjie’s illustrations have appeared in ELLE and T Magazine.

Mengjie Wang

10. Cami Ruohonen

Cami Ruohonen blends traditional mediums with digital tools to create truly stunning editorial illustrations. Dealing with themes of mindfulness and nature, the Finnish-Italian illustrator aims to uplift viewers and raise awareness of self-help techniques. Her thick analogue paint marks are enhanced by Procreate and have won over clients such as The Philosophers Mag, Arjumand’s World, Collana Verde and Lauren Baker.

Cami Ruohonen

Creative Boom