The printed sheet of paper remains a vital medium for mainstream illustration as well as artistic flights of fancy and severe experimentation. 2018 brought a slew of releases by artists both new to the print world and some classic heavyweights. These picks are in no specific order.
Here’s to the close of another year. Ever onward, here we come 2019.
‘Black Swan’ by Jack Hughes
UK based illustrator Jack Hughes has an amazing portfolio of the beautiful and sophisticated. With his ‘Black Swan’ poster for Mondo, his penchant for beauty and sophistication is front and center as is his intelligent portrayal of the dark and dramatic world of Darren Aronofsky’s 2010 film.
‘Blue Velvet’ by Matt Ryan Tobin
This poster is sexual, vibrant, and pulsing with the deranged brain of David Lynch’s masterpiece ‘Blue Velvet.’ Matt Ryan Tobin has a way of bringing the underlying thrill of a film front and center. He’s done it with countless films, but this is one of his finest.
‘Floribunda’ by Sergio Lopez
Sergio Lopez blends the figure with design elements in a way that seems impossible. The figure enveloped in wallpaper, moving through subtle floral patterns. In ‘Florbunda,’ the composition is simply brilliant. The flowers rise and fall over the figure binding each element to the canvas. Beautiful through and through.
‘Laurie Strode’ by Jason Edmiston
The fact that Canadian based artist Jason Edmiston continues to amaze year in and year out is a feat unto itself. His 2018 poster ‘Laurie Strode’ is a companion piece to an earlier poster for ‘Halloween,’ yet it stands alone without any frame of reference. If you, somehow, had never seen ‘Halloween’ and had no idea what Ms. Strode’s knife is raised for, you still feel the panic, fear, and bravery in the scene. Edmiston is a master, or on the verge of becoming one. His ability to meld fine art painting with the methods of the collectible poster is brilliant and grows with each piece.
‘Die Zauberflöte’ by Jonathan Burton
Jonathan Burton‘s ‘Die Zauberflöte’ is a print done for the Evil Tender Opera Print Series, so there is a bias — but ETDC wouldn’t put resources towards something that wouldn’t be on this list. Burton has unique insight the absurd and whimsical, two hallmarks of Mozart’s classic opera.
‘Quiescence’ by Kevin Tong
No one does screenprints quite as well as Kevin Tong. ‘Quiescence’ is a stunning achievement. The technical creativity in the layers of color and use of inks is unreal. The jellyfish appear gelatinous on the screen, and in person, they seem wet to the touch.
Kacey Musgraves gig poster by John Vogl
‘Gazes,’ illustrator John Vogl‘s 2018 solo exhibit, featured a slew of digital female portraits. Each was an experiment in shape and color, minimal, far from Vogl’s usually crisp and detailed illustrations. Vogl’s ‘Gazes’ could only be as successful as it was with his years of experience illustrating the ‘right’ way.
His gig poster for Kacey Musgraves builds off of ‘Gazes,’ creating a perfectly simple and sublime ode to the singer. The loose brush work to the left of Musgraves’s head would appear a mistake in a lesser artist’s composition but in Vogl’s hand, each mark is exactly how it should be.
‘Creature from the Black Lagoon’ by Gary Pullin
Canadian illustrator Gary Pullin has been bringing the horror genre to life since the early ’00s, and each release is better than his last. Pullin’s ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon’ is ripe with the delightful nostalgia that keeps fans returning the Universal Monsters canon.
‘Creature’ has always been a fun b-movie, the underlying horror dampened by the incredible monster design and eerie underwater footage. Pullin captured exactly why ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon’ is such a classic film — it’s an odd horror/sci-fi from Hollywood’s Golden Age when every idea was put on the screen and given a sincere opportunity to tell its story.
Jack White gig poster by Rob Jones
Illustrator Rob Jones has been working with Jack White for over a decade, and he has not lost the ability to create posters that feel as exciting as the first. White is constantly at work with his personal brand of self myth-making, and Jones takes that concept and builds a strange universe, placing White rightly at the center.
The concept of this gig poster is spot on, yet I can’t say for sure what that spot is, yet it makes absolute sense. Jones feeds his absurdist bent through an educated lens, grounding the poster in an enigmatic reality that has the audience secretly Googling ‘The Moon Peddler Cameron Meuh‘ in case there is something they’re missng.
‘Burgr Joint’ by Stefan Glerum
Black Dragon Press has a history of releasing incredibly daring and brilliant film and art prints, and I am thrilled they do or else we may have never seen ‘Burgr Joint’ by Stefan Glerum. ‘Burgr Joint’ reads like a postcard from an aged future, that prospective time when the mass of the unknown live together and dine on cheap hamburgers.
Beyond a smart color palette and composition, Glerum’s art is storytelling at its finest. Each element begging questions that our lizard brains immediately answer, we inherently understand the core vision presented — hunger and the isolated togetherness of collective eating.