Before attending art school, I could only name about half a dozen artists or illustrators whose
work I liked. My list has grown quite a bit, and it continues to grow as I learn about them
through word-of-mouth or stumble across them on the internet. I've tried my best to place them
into six groups, but some of them fall into multiple categories while others don't fit neatly into any of them.
Artists From The Past
Almost all of the artists in this group lived during the late 19th century, one of the best and
most productive eras in the history of art. (The Renaissance and Baroque are my two other
- Robert Frederick Blum (1857-1903)
- William Bouguereau (1825-1905)
- Bouguereau painted the best hands and feet and created the most supple, life-like flesh
- Caravaggio (1571-1610)
- Mary Cassatt (1844-1926)
- William Merritt Chase (1849-1916)
- Edgar Degas (1834-1917)
- Frank Duveneck (1848-1919)
- Nicolai Fechin (1881-1955)
- Gustav Klimt (1862-1918)
- Michelangelo (1475-1564)
- Alphonse Maria Mucha (1860-1939)
- Ilya Repin (1844-1930)
- John Singer Sargent (1856-1925)
- Joaquín Sorolla (1863-1923)
- Vermeer (1632-1675)
- I almost cried when I found out that Vermeer used a camera obscura. Nevertheless,
very few artists could compose or capture light the way he did.
- Anders Zorn (1860-1920)
- John Asaro (1937)
- Harley Brown
- I came across Harley Brown when I borrowed Becoming a Successful Artist
from the library. When I looked at his work, the bravura strokes made me think that
they were oil paintings. To my surprise, they were pastels!
- Kim English
- Robert Heindel (1938)
- An article on Heindel says that Austin Briggs and Francis Bacon were two of his
influences, but it seems that he was influenced more by Degas, Klimt, and Coles
Phillips (The Fadeaway Girl). Some of his original paintings appear in the Richard
MacDonald Gallery in San Francisco.
- Bob Gerbracht
- Dan Gerhartz (1968)
- Everett Raymond Kinstler (1927)
- I was fortunate enough to take a painting workhsop with Kinstler at the Scottsdale Artists'
School in March 2002. For a man who had painted numerous Presidents and celebrities, he
certainly was a humble person and a damn friendly guy. To my surprise, he wasn't enamoured
with flashy brushstrokes or "alla prima"--he only cared about getting the right colors and
values and taking nothing for granted. On the last day of class, he did this sketch
of "The Shadow" for me!
- Milt Kobayashi
- Kobayashi's style and subject matter are almost identical to Skip Liepke's.
- Zhou Liang
- Malcom "Skip" Liepke (1954)
- Liepke is heavily influenced by Degas, Sargent, and Vuillard, but don't believe the
stories you hear about him being self-taught. It's all a lie! He attended Art Center
for two years before moving to New York. Initially, I loved his work, but now, it's becoming
formulaic and repetitive.
- Jeremy Lipking (1975)
- Huihan Liu
- Huihan occasionally teaches a painting class at the Academy of Art College. Unfortunately, I did not
have a chance to take his class when I was there.
- Richard MacDonald
- John Howard Sanden
- Burt Silverman (1928)
- One of my top five favorite artists. Silverman simply rocks!
- Richard Schmid (1934)
- Schmid's paintings look so simple up close, but once you step back, they suddenly appear
incredibly detailed and realistic. He studied under William H. Mosby at the American
Academy of Art in Chicago.
- Mian Situ
- Matt Smith
Illustrators From The Past
- Dean Cornwell (1892-1960)
- Charles Dana Gibson (1867-1944)
- J.C. Leyendecker (1874-1951)
- Andrew Loomis (1892-1959)
- One of the most versatile and underrated illustrators, Loomis is the author of Figure Drawing for All It's
Worth and Creative Illustration, two of the best "textbooks" on art. The bad news is that both books are
out-of-print and very difficult to find. The good news is that both books are entirely online!
For Creative Illustration, click here.
For Figure Drawing for All It's Worth, click here.
- Rien Poortvliet (1932-1995)
- Illustrator of Gnomes, Poortvliet is one of the best draftsman and most
prolific artists today. He draws and paints everything: people, animals, landscape,
architecture, vehicles, you name it. His drawings are fresh, full of vitality, and
never overworked. Check out one of his books and you'll see what I mean.
- Norman Rockwell (1894-1978)
- Jessie Wilcox Smith (1863-1935)
- Daniel Adel
- Natalie Ascensios
- The Capcom Artists
- Since many of them use pen names, it's hard to find information on these artists. Some of my
favorite Capcom artists include Shinkiro, CRMK, and Edayan.
- Falcoon (1976)
- Another Japanese illustrator and character designer, whose style is very similar to Katsuya Terada's. This guy
is prolific. He updates his website with a new image everyday!
- James Gurney (1958)
- James Gurney and Dinotopia are synonymous, but not many people know about one of his
earlier books, The Artist's Guide to Sketching. It's definitely one the most
thorough, well-written, and informative drawing books available. Not only does it show
various techniques, but it addresses many of the problems of drawing on location:
capturing motion, creating mood, and so on. After reading it, you understand why
sketching is such a vital part of an artist's growth and development.
- Phil Hale (1964?)
- James Jean (1979)
- Easily one of the best illustrators around today. It's hard for me to think of another artist that comes close to
his innovative designs, superb draftsmanship, or sublime colors. View his blog here.
- Jeffrey Jones (1944)
- Sebastian Krüger (1963)
- Iain McCaig (1957)
- Haruhiko Mikimoto (1952)
- Character designer for Macross, Gunbuster, and Orguss.
- Yasushi Nirasawa (1963)
- Tetsuya Nomura (1972)
- Character designer for Square's Final Fantasy VII, VIII, X, The Bouncer, Parasite Eve, and Kingdom Hearts.
- Phil Noto
- C.F. Payne (1954)
- Barron Storey (1940)
- Storey taught at the Academy of Art in the 80's, but he left in the early 90's. Creator of
the artist's journal, he now teaches at California College of Arts and Crafts.
I've heard that many of his students eventually become "mini" Barron Storeys. Some of his more
successful "children" include Dave McKean, Jon J. Muth, George Pratt,
Bill Siekiewicz, and Kent Williams.
- Drew Struzan (1947)
- Tatsuyuki Tanaka (1965)
- Claire Wendling (1967)
- Amazing French illustrator, animator, and comic artist.
- Kent Williams
- Dean Yeagle
- Illustrator for "Playboy" magazine and an independent animator. Check this awesome
Comic Book Artists
- Art Adams (1963)
- Any kid fortunate enough to pick up one of his comics in the '80s was surely blown away by his
work. For me, it was "X-Men Annual #10." It's too bad there isn't more of his stuff around.
- Graham Annable
- If you haven't read "Grickle," do yourself a favor and buy it now! Graham's timeless, bittersweet
stories will linger in your mind and make you laugh out loud. Click
here to read an interview.
- Kyle Baker (1965)
- J. Scott Campbell (1973)
- Campbell's work is a mixed bag. Sometimes I like it lot, and other times, I don't care for it at all.
- Travis Charest (1969)
- Frank Cho (1971)
- Roldolfo Damaggio
- Floro Dery (1947?)
- I discovered Dery's work in The Best of Spider-man (ISBN 0-345-32593-1), an
anthology of Spidey's comic strips from the '80's. Every panel was so well composed that they could be
used as storyboards for a movie. He has thorough a understanding of anatomy, folds,
perspective, compostion, and storytelling. Can you believe he has a PhD in math, and he did
the concept art for "Transformers: The Movie?" You can read an interview
here. A second interview discusses his
involvement in Transformers.
- Terry Dodson
- Duncan Fegredo
- Seth Fisher (1972-2006)
- Click here to read an interview.
- Massimiliano (Massimo) Frezzato (1967)
- Vittorio Giardino (1946)
- Jaime Hernandez (1959)
- Hernandez's drawings are so deceptively simple. It took me several viewings before I started appreciating
- Jim Holdaway (1927- 1970)
- Adam Hughes (1967)
- Masakasu Katsura (1962)
- Creator of the manga, "Video Girl Ai," which later became a six-episode animation, Katsura's draftsmanship and
storytelling are top-notch.
- Kaiji Kawaguchi (1958)
Derek Kirk Kim
- A Xeric Grant winner, Derek is one of my favorite indie comic artists. I picked up his book, "Same Difference and Other Stories,"
at the 2002 Alternative Press Expo, and now I'm hooked on his website.
- David Lapham (1970)
- Writer and artist for the dark and disturbing "Stray Bullets." His first story, "Look of Love," is very reminiscent of
the movie "Fargo."
- Rick Leonardi (1957)
- I haven't seen any of his recent work, but his pencils for "Cloak and Dagger" were
- Milo Manara (1945)
- Domingo Mandrifina (1945)
- Joe Matt (1963)
- Creator of "The Poor Bastard," the autobiographical comic about his troubles with women and his
obsession with porn. Brutally honest and way funnier than it should be. Click
here to read an extensive interview.
- Razmig Mavlian
- Some of the best and funniest comics I've read.
- Scott McCloud
- I actually haven't had a chance to read any of his comics, but I love "Understanding Comics."
- Takeshi Miyazawa
- A 2001 Harvey Nominee and artist for "Sidekicks."
- Jon J. Muth
- Paul Pope (1970)
- Alex Raymond (1909 -1956)
- Masumune Shirow (1961)
- Barry Windsor-Smith (1949)
- Doug TenNapel (1966?)
- The creator and genius behind the first Earthworm Jim video game and the cartoon series.
- Osamu Tezuka (1928-1989)
- They don't call him the "God of Manga" for nothing. He's probably best known for "Astro Boy," but I
enjoyed reading "Black Jack" more. Incidentally, have you noticed that story for Steven Spielberg's "A.I."
is almost identical to "Astro Boy?"
- Wally Wood (1927-1981)
- Ray Harryhausen (1920)
- Ollie Johnston (1912)
- John Lasseter (1957)
- Check out this interview
with Lasseter. One of the best and most through ones I've read!
- Winsor McCay (1867-1934)
- Hayao Miyazaki (1941)
- Nick Park (1958)
- Frank Thomas (1912-2004)
- Robert Valley
- An animator and director of numerous commercials, Valley is also an awesome comic book artist with a wild
imagination and a perverse sense of humor. Click
here to read a profile from Wildbrain.