Mikhail Vyrtsev, aka Reey Whaar, is a Russian watercolour artist. Born in 1988, Moscow, Vyrtsev studied cooking for a year then changed to graphic design. He worked as shipment handler for Danone before realising that he really wanted to be an illustrator.
His satirical and surreal watercolour paintings have been featured in magazines including Playboy, Men’s Health, PROsport, and Psychologies. Vyrtsev combines humour with the unsettling, positions objects uncomfortably close together, uses desaturated colors and faithful details to create poignant illustrations.
Grimm finished his studies around the same time Nazis were gaining power. He started a promising career in illustration, receiving commissions for covers of prominent fashion magazines such as Silberspiegel, Die Dame and Elegante Welt. He also provided artwork for cigarette brands Muratti Ariston, Reemtsmas Ova, and sparkling wine, Kupferberg. However, by 1935, with the introduction of The Nuremberg Laws, Grimm was labelled a “Half-Jew.” Aware of his dwindling career opportunities in Germany, he decided to move to Le Havre, Paris.
His relocation to France did not last as long as he intended and returned to Berlin the following year. However, due to increased pressure on Jewish citizens, Grimm and Hilde emigrated again, this time to England. And for a second time they returned home. He did manage to get work, but only with the help of Hilde and amicable publishers. During this period, he and his drawings became disconnected, culminating in not signing much of his work. This disconnection cultivated a deep anxiety against public appearances. Also during the Second World War his Berlin apartment was destroyed along with many of his early works which served to further deepen the creative mire he was in.
Post-war, between 1945 and 1951, Grimm was far more productive. He had a drive akin to a young raw artist, thriving in an environment without restrictions. He began working for fashion magazines again. In particular Die Frau (The Woman), which in it’s relatively short run from 1946 to 1950, Grimm produced 61 of the 90 covers. During this time, Grimm was doing much better financially and decided to take a trip to New York. There he found work easily and was in demand from American magazines including Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue and Esquire. Though they thought about staying, ultimately his wife felt homesick, and so the couple returned to Germany.
Now an international illustrator, Grimm’s work and reputation preceded him. Allowing him the freedom to take on a wide range of illustration and design projects for swimwear, clothing, perfume, cigarette and whisky companies. Also drawing book covers, notably for Thomas Mann, Arthur Schnitzler, and Thornton Wilder.
At the end of the 1950s, Grimm entered a deal with cigarette company Reval. Creating multiple posters fitting with the pop art movement, expressive colour choices such as blue faces and green hair. Grimm had updated his style to match current trends but was careful not loose everything that made his artwork so distinctive.
He did not really correct his lines. He would keep all his strokes regardless, eschewing perfection. Another one of his notable techniques was to leave large portions of the image incomplete, hinting at, and purposely omitting details leaving the viewer to fill in the blanks.
Thanks to his success, mostly due to his Reval commissions, Grimm took Hilde and their son around the world. Travelling to New York again, as well as California, Alaska, Antigua, South America, South Africa, and the Far East. He produced hundreds of illustrations during his travels. Unpolished, expressive, often intense illustrations of everything from subway passengers and street musicians to Bolivian slums and deserted villages. Much of this work has never been published.
To the best of my knowledge, there has only ever been two exhibitions dedicated to Gerd Grimm. Both in Germany, and both celebrating the centenary year of his birth. “Gerd Grimm’s 100th Birthday: Fashion, Girls, Megacities” at the Kunsthalle Messmer (Messmer Foundation) and “The new elegance: The fashion designer Gerd Grimm” at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (Museum of Arts and Crafts in Hamburg). In 2014, his work was featured in the UK exhibition “Drawing on Style: Four Decades of Elegance” at Gallery 8, alongside other great fashion illustrators including René Bouché, René Gruau and Carl Erickson.
Howard Pyle was born on March 5, 1853 in Wilmington, Delaware. He showed a keen interest in art and literature from a very young age. At school Pyle showed indifference to his studies. His mother, who was a painter, encouraged him to pursue art.
Rather than going to college, Pyle moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and spent three years studying under Francis Van der Wielen at the Art Students’ League. After a visit to the island of Chincoteague off Virginia he submitted an illustrated article to Scribner’s Monthly. Roswell Smith, one of the owners of the magazine, suggested Pyle move to New York to pursue a career in illustration.
In 1876, Pyle heeding Smith’s advice, moved to New York. However, he struggled to get work at first due to his lack of professional experience. He also struggled to suitably translate his ideas for publication. His luck changed when he sold a double-page illustrated article to Harper’s Weekly. It appeared in the issue of March 9, 1878. He was paid the tidy sum of $75, which was five times what he had expected. From there he began illustrating and writing for many popular periodicals including Collier’s, Harper’s Monthly, Cosmopolitan, Scribner’s, and St. Nicholas magazines. He soon became widely known for his editorial illustrations.
By the time Pyle returned home to Wilmington in 1880, he was an established artist. A year later he married a singer, Anne Poole, on April 12, 1881. Around that time he began to work on a book, The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood. It was published in 1883. Pyle careful crafted almost every aspect of the book, from the writing, illustration, and design, down to the type of lettering used. This book, rightfully so, garnered international attention and praise from critics such as William Morris. Pyle put that same level of commitment and care into many more books, notably, Otto of the Silver Hand (1888), Men of Iron (1891), The Story of King Arthur and His Knights (1903), Howard Pyle’s Book Of Pirates (Compiled in 1921).
Between 1894 to 1900 Pyle joined the faculty of Drexel Institute of Art (now called Drexel University) to teach illustration. A natural tutor, Pyle discovered a drive to better teach students about illustration outside of the confines of formal art education. In 1900, Pyle left Drexel to established his own art school. It was attached to his personal art studio and became known as the Brandywine School. Having made a good living through his professional illustration Pyle never accepted money for his teaching. Many of his students were female, making up to fifty percent of his classes. Which was very uncommon in those days. Pyle excelled in many mediums, pen and ink, watercolors, oils, pencil and charcoal. He taught his students technique as well as encouraging them train both spiritually and artistically. To experience many environments so that they could authentically represent them in their work.
In 1910 Pyle along with his family went to Italy, with an intention to study the old masters. However, after just one year, he suffered a kidney infection and died in Florence at the age of 58. The Delaware Museum of Art was founded two years later in his honor. It houses over 100 paintings, drawings, and prints purchased from Pyle’s widow, Anne.
In a career lasting a little over thirty years, Pyle produced nearly 3,500 illustrations across 200 magazine articles and 19 books. His legacy is felt today with many contemporary illustrators still citing Pyle’s work as an important influence. His contribution in illustration, literature and education is still studied and praised today, truly earning Howard Pyle the title of the “Father of American Illustration.”
João Fazenda is an illustrator from Lisbon, Portugal and currently working and living in London, England. He studied Painting at belas-artes ulisboa (The Lisbon School of Fine-Arts). The majority of his work is made up of editorial and book illustration, however, he has worked on comics, animation, posters and CD covers. His work has been exhibited across Europe in Switzerland, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and England.
Fazenda has worked for several international clients include Sol, Time Out Lisboa, New York Times, The Guardian, The Scientist, and Nobrow, earning several awards along the way. In 2001 Amadora international Comic Festival awarded him Best Portuguese Comic Book for his comic Tu és Mulher da Minha Vida, Ela a Mulher dos Meus Sonhos (You’re the Woman of my Life, She’s the Woman of my Dreams) and he currently hold five Awards of Excellence for Illustration from the Society Of Newspapers Design (SND).
Fazenda’s images are full of vitality. They are playful and dynamic and just feel fun. I believe that is partly due to his use of fluid and exaggerated shapes. They are clear, conveying information swiftly. The other part has to be his use of strong bold colours. They work as a great device to group objects, as well as playing off one another.
You can find more of João Fazenda’s illustrations on his website, and Tumblr.
Michael Cho is an illustrator, comic artist and “occasional” writer. Born in Seoul, South Korea, he relocated to Canada at 6 years old. With an interest in illustration from a very early age, Cho drew all the time on whatever he could find. He attended and graduated from Ontario College of Art (and Design). After which he started his freelancing career.
Cho divides his time between editorial work, making comics for clients and making comics for himself. Some of his clients include The New York Times, National Post, Boston Globe, Washington Post, Random House, Penguin Classics, and comic giants Marvel and DC Comics. His hard work has earned him Silver Canadian National Magazine Award, a Joe Shuster nomination and a story included in The Best American Comics 2010.
In 2013, Drawn and Quarterly published a book of Cho’s hometown Toronto drawing called, Back Alleys and Urban Landscapes. More recently, saw the release of Cho’s debut graphic novel, Shoplifter, a New York Times BestSeller about “a young woman’s search for happiness and self-fulfillment in the big city”. Published by Pantheon Books, Shoplifter in esteemed company, alongside the likes of Maus, Persepolis and Habibi.
Cho’s work is drawn with a combination of digital, watercolour, goauche and ink and makes good use of a limited pallet. His comic illustrations are made up of two colours and even his commissioned work, more often than not, stays within four colours. The limitation creates contrast and guides your eyes instantly to the important element on the page. Also, using one colour for a crowd and another for a protagonist creates a wonderful divide, highlighting uniqueness or isolation. Something Cho uses to great effect for Shoplifter.
Find more of Michael Cho’s work on his website and be sure to follow him on Twitter.