The up-and-coming illustrators to watch this year

Following the Sebastian Walker Illustration awards last week, designers share their thoughts on the emerging illustration talent currently making its mark.

Gordon Reid, art director and senior designer, Middle Boop

“My favourite illustrator right now is Mason London, also known as Joe Prytherch. He’s fantastically talented, and a bloody lovely bloke too. His use of colour is spot on, and his topical illustrations are always deeply infused with humour, which adds another brilliant layer to his already heavily sought after style. He’s done some fantastic work for the likes of Kurupt FM, NTS Radio and Camden Hells Lager, so basically has an enviable client list comprising some very cool people. I keep spotting his various t-shirt designs around town too, which is a good sign.”

Emma Follett, deputy chief creative officer, Design Bridge

“Every year, we’re blessed with an abundance of creative talent emerging from graduate shows like D&AD New Blood, competitions such as the V&A Illustration Awards and Instagram feeds like @weoccupy. All of these promote talent and inspire us, providing us with potential collaborators in the future. It’s difficult to name one illustrator, so I’ll name two. Firstly, Emily Evans’ illustrations – shortlisted for the V&A Student Illustration award last year for her Antiquities book – are stunning. I admire her intriguing quirky style, and it will be exciting to follow her work.

Emily Evans

Secondly, Rob Bailey – who Design Bridge recently collaborated with on a Smirnoff limited edition bottle – because we saw how his playful, graphic style could enhance the powerful message ‘love wins’.”

Rob Bailey

Ben Tallon, freelance illustrator and Design Week columnist

“During a visit to Japan in 2016, I discovered the work of Tokyo-based Kei Sekikawa and it grabbed me immediately. Kei’s intriguing colour palettes, unique depiction of people and stunning, organic 2D aesthetic stood out from any trends I’ve seen and remains unique. To me, there’s an apparent lack of fear and pressure to deliver what might be expected by a commercial world, and it works regardless.”

Jenny Theolin, creative partner at Studio Theolin

“I’d be lying if I said that I’m the only one head-over-heels in love with Jessica Eriksson, also known as Persikamy. Last year she won the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in Umeå, Sweden, and I’ve been working with her the past three or four years on various projects. Her tenacious drive and contagious thrive are nothing but inspiring! Lots of colours, happiness and passion goes into her work. Mixed media, mixed styles – there is always something surprising!”

Matt Baxter, Baxter and Bailey
Matt Baxter, co-founder and creative director, Baxter and Bailey

“A very serendipitous subject, this one. Just this month we’ve started working with the brilliant Pop Up Projects, a not-for-profit company that works with educational, literary and cultural organisations. Its mission is to enable children, empower teachers, and engage families from all walks of life to read more widely, write more creatively and develop visual storytelling skills. All of which means that they collaborate with amazing children’s writers and illustrators; from established names like Phillip Ardagh, Sarah McIntyre and Gary Northfield to future literary stars. Our first project with Pop-Up will see us commissioning our new favourite illustrator and comic book artist Charlotte Spillane, who is (amazingly) still studying at Southampton Solent University. How’s that for ’emerging talent’?”

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