Have you heard about the Art Ed Bloggers Network
? It’s a collective of Art Education bloggers who all write on a given topic and publish on the same day. It’s a great way to see how different people interpret the same question and/or a way to learn more about this thing we call, “Art Education.”
The inaugural theme is “Artists that Inspire Us.” Well, I (not unlike you) could write chapters on that topic. I have a penchant for medieval art, I adore Botticelli, and will always have a soft spot for Pre-Raphaelite artist John Everett Millias. But, you probably already know something about these genres and artists. I happen to really adore many (so many), contemporary artists. My husband and I have made a decision to collect artwork. We already have quite the collection, and add to it on a regular basis. We have very different tastes, and this makes the collection interesting and eclectic.
So, instead of waxing poetic about the artists of yore, I’m going to share with you 14 contemporary artists that inspire me.
Tuesday Bassen is an American illustrator living in Los Angeles, CA. In addition to illustration work she designs buttons, patches, and clothing. All of her work as a theme of strong and powerful women. Her work is so tremendous it is often stolen by larger commercial enterprises (and she is not given credit or pay), so chances are – you’ve seen a derivative of her artwork somewhere. So, stop paying for the derivative and buy an original! I have a few of her patches and pins and I adore them.
Sarah Burford is a British illustrator and soft-sculpture inspired by the styles of the 1930s and 1940s; she sometimes goes by the name, “Curious Pip.” As much as I love her illustrations (and I do), it’s her vintage-style-inspired dolls that blow my mind. I’ve been trying to desperately snag a doll for at least a year; They sell out within seconds of her listing them online for sale. They somehow walk a fine line between homage and individual creativity. She shares the numerous maquettes and sketches behind her process on her blog.
I’ve been obsessed (o b s e s s e d) with the Clayton Brothers since I was an undergrad. A team of two brothers collaborating to make provocative, challenging, and colorful artwork on interesting themes. Their website said the collaboration officially ended in 2016, and I’m looking forward to what comes next for the duo.
Lisa Congdon is a former art teacher (!) who is now an artist, illustrator, and author. She is best known for her colorful style and hand-lettering. Aside from loving her style, I love her emphasis on how growing older is an awesome adventure.
If I could paint like anyone on this list, it would be Leah Giberson. Alas, I lack both the artistic and technical ability and the patience. I adore all things mid-century, and I especially appreciate Giberson’s emphasis on the shapes and lines of this time period. Her artworks often feel stark and lonely; she frequently removes other reminders of humanity (like power lines etc.) from her artwork. I want to own an original one day.
Heidi Kearney is the genius behind My Paper Crane, and some would say the revival success of plush is due to her incredible talent. Her artwork permeates our visual culture; whether you know it or not, you have seen her work. She is especially prolific, and is always dedicated to discovering some new way of making things. I love how she shares about her process on her blog.
Tatsure Kiuchi is a Tokyo-based illustrator and painter; his artwork reminds me of the illustrations popular in the late 1960s and the early 1970s. The colors have that richness and deceptively simplicity that makes me think of more innocent times. I think Mary Blair would be a fan of Tatsuro Kiuchi.
I just purchased my first artwork by Sonia Lazo. Sonia Lazo is an artist and illustrator from El Salvador. Her artwork has this charming and cute style, but it has teeth! Her themes are often thought-provoking and adult. I also deeply admire her ability to use a simplistic color palette to tremendous effect.
(I didn’t post the NSFW image I originally intended; you’re welcome. Go look at her stuff! It is tremendous!)
I just discovered the artist, illustrator, and author
Laura Ljungkvist a few weeks ago, and I’m already dropping heavy hints to my husband about what I would like for my birthday. Laura Ljungkvist is an artist and illustrator whose simple and graphic style defies wonder. How does she infuse so much meaning with twelve lines and two colors?! I don’t know! I don’t care. I just want to look forever.
Okay. So, Peter Max isn’t exactly contemporary, but he’s still with us. He still counts! Peter Max is famous for his Yellow Submarine illustrations that were used in the video and album cover of the Beatle’s song of the same name. I’ve always loved his high-color, exuberant style, but have fallen more in love with his universal ideals of joy, love, and peace. Also, I attended an estate sale a few years ago and scored an authenticated, original Peter Max. Yes. I know!! Squeeee! I’m starring at it while I write this.
If there is someone with a more profound understanding of color than Mark Rothko, it might be Martina Nehrling. How does she get me to feel with just drips of paint on white paper? I don’t know. But, I’m mesmerized by her style. She’s another artist whom I hope to soon collect.
I’ve always loved the murals and paintings created during the Great Depression by the Works Progress Administration. Can you tell yet that I love rich color? Well, Steve Thomas appears to be the inheritor of that great style. From tongue-and-cheek images of vinyl to re-worked posters celebrating American national parks, I’d fight you for an original.
I came across Phoebe Wahl’s blog when she was still a home-schooled high school student living in the Pacific Northwest. I was astounded by her talent and topics. Fast forward a decade and she’s a graduate of Rhode Island School of Art and Design and an award-winning children’s book illustrator and author. I mean, what can this woman not do? I love how she uses a romantic, charming story-book style of illustration and infuses it with contemporary ideals. Many of the families depicted in her books are multi-cultural and multi-racial, for instance.
So, Kristen Liu-Wong is my NSFW (not suitable for work) artist on this list. I realize we are art educators and often look at work that is safe for everyone. But, hey, provocative work challenges me. And, for me, no one is pushing the envelope of femininity and sex in art right now better than Kristen Liu-Wong. She’s another one I drop heavy hints about to my husband.
Hey! Make sure you go and check-out how the other bloggers in the Art Ed Blogger’s Network answer the question, “Artists that Inspire Us.”
This post is a part of The Art Ed Blogger’s Network: Monthly Tips and Inspiration from Art Teacher Blogs. On the first Tuesday each month, each of these art teacher blogs will post their best ideas on the same topic.