Dave Calver, Spring, 2000. American Showcase, cover; colored pencil, marker and acrylic

Istvan Banyai, The End of Print, 2009. The Atlantic Monthly, cover for Fiction; pencil and digital

Tim Biskup, Golden Plague, 2004. Personal work; cel-vinyl acrylic and gold leaf on panel

Jean-Philippe Delhomme, Opening at Gagosian, 2010. Personal work, The Unknown Hipster, book; gouache

eBoy, MLK-Nike Game Cover, 2012. Milk magazine, Hong Kong; digital

Antoine Helbert, Marie-Antoinette, 2010. Personal work; hand-drawn and digital

Jody Hewgill, David Bowie, 2004. Rolling Stone magazine; acrylic on gessoed ragboard

Patrick Hruby, Robot 3, 2011. Sappi Fine Paper; digital

Jeremyville, Desolate Night, Hell’s Kitchen, 2011. Personal work; pen and screen printing

Liz Lomax, The Rolling Stones, 2004. Rolling Stone magazine; polymer clay, oil paint, insulation foam and digital photography

Gabriel Moreno, Nike Store, 2011. Nike, advertising; pencil on paper and digital

Mark Summers, Edvard Grieg, 1996. Caldey Island, charity calendar; scratchboard

Co.Design

12 Of Today's Best Living Illustrators

Taschen's 100 Illustrators showcases the biggest players in the highly competitive field of illustration. If you don't know their names, you will soon.

It's a depressingly small percentage of art school alumni who can say "I told you so" to their friends and family. In December, Taschen releases a book that celebrates this successful 1% of the illustration world: 100 Illustrators, a hefty two-volume collection of the biggest and boldest talents in the field today.

The 100 artists featured here were culled from a pool of 600 that had contributed to Taschen’s Illustration Now! Series, which, since 2008, has been publishing the work of the world's most exciting illustrators in sleek, full-color installments. Even if you’re not a total illustration geek, you’ll probably recognize some of the work in these volumes. There are cruel caricatures of Lena Dunham and Steve Jobs from Vanity Fair and the New Yorker by Andre Carrilho and Steve Brodner; muscle-bound superheroes from the pages of Marvel Comics by Gez Fry; and science illustrations from Time and National Geographic, including a portrait of Einstein made from fruits and vegetables by Hanoch Piven. Showcased is a wide range of styles, from graphic novels to advertising to psychedelia.

Illustrators reveal their creative processes in profiles that accompany their portfolios: "I am a visual problem solver. I find the essence of what needs to be communicated and hit the viewer over the head and smash his or her brain all over the heart of my image," writes Gary Baseman, whose cutely demonic little characters have graced both New Yorker covers and Target ads.

Each illustrator also contributed a self portrait, but most won’t help you figure out what the artists look like—Gary Basemen is a fanged, eyeless demon; Lisel Ashlock is a vaguely human-shaped bouquet of flowers; and Zohar Lazar is a masked cartoon bandit.

The brutal selection process of just 100 illustrators is fleshed out in the introduction by author Steven Heller, who’s written 120 books on graphic design, illustration, and satiric art and works as co-chair of the School of Visual Arts MFA Designer as Author Program. Taschen’s compilation, in all its 640-page glory, is "a record of how illustration, in an age when critics predict the ‘end of print’ and, in fact, many traditional outlets for illustration have dried up, has triumphed over the doomsayers," Heller writes.

Click the slide show above for a selection of 12 of the best illustrations from this sprawling collection: see the Rolling Stones rendered as polymer clay bobbleheads; a peacock-plumed Marie Antoinette; and a dystopian Hell's Kitchen filled with Pac-Man-like homunculi.

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10 Comments

  • charliesheenhardcore

    The fact is many illustrators that are successful, didn't go to art school. In fact illustration is more popular than ever. Commercial, personal, ect. It's mixed with the graphic arts now. Many graphic artists are hand digital drawing/painting their work. The one's that aren't successful, didn't try hard enough, and or were never meant to do it. A person can have not one artistic bone in their body and go to art school, that doesn't make them an artist, and that doesn't mean they will be a good one when they come out. Being an artist is something you are born with. The people born with the talent almost always have success. Being born with the talent doesn't mean you bypass hard work and study either.

  • Jose Baldizon

    I have a difficult time "getting" art, but I love illustration. I can look at captivating images like the ones in the slideshow all day long.

  • Mike Edholm

    BongBong is absolutely right. Best is a stupid moniker for an artist. Who decides? Save "best" for a children's art contest when you start warping the minds of youth and cramping their creative side. Shame on you...

  • BongBong

    "Best" when describing an illustrator is completely subjective. What about Matt Mahurin? Brad Holland? Seymour Chwast? There are thousands of fantastic illustrators. What matters is, are they appropriate for the job for which you are hiring them?

  • gregtuco

    In Safari, some of the images in your slideshow are in "negative". I had to pull them into Photoshop and invert them to see them as intended. (Chrome and Firefox are good).