Dark and Detailed: 34 inspiring contemporary illustrations

Alex Bigman

If you’re seeking instant inspiration, look no further than the world of contemporary illustration. Our search for today’s most unusual, eye-popping drawings has left us completely stunned.

From magazine, to fashion, to just-for-fun illustration, we found this niche to be as dark as it is beautiful. We noticed another trend, too; women in distress or positions of vulnerability seem to be a recurring element — apparently not much has changed since the golden era of comic books…

Here are the 17 artists who blew us away (and possibly disturbed us too):

criatura_822

By Raquel Aparicio

 

dragon

By Raquel Aparicio

 

24

By mcbess

 

4

By mcbess

 

gabrielmoreno_wall_street_journal

By Gabriel Moreno

 

ilustration_carmen1

By Gabriel Moreno

 

cent

By Irina Zablotska

 

623811819_7017a9d8ce_b

By Irina Zablotska

 

swide_dg

By John Woo

 

swide_07

By John Woo

 

lauralaine7

By Laura Laine

 

lauralaine2

By Laura Laine

 

av_swide_gagavmag

By Adrian Valencia

 

av_swide_beyonce

By Adrian Valencia

 

bartlett1

By Jonathan Bartlett

 

bartlett7

By Jonathan Bartlett

 

illustration 2

By Simon Prades

 

illustration 1

By Simon Prades

 

illustration 3

By Christi du Toit

 

illustration 4

By Christi du Toit

 

illustration 6

By Yo Az

 

illustration 5

By Yo Az

 

illustration 7

By Iain Macarthur

 

illustration 8

By Iain Macarthur

 

illustration 9

By Goni Montez

 

illustration 10

By Goni Montez

 

illustration 11

By Victo Ngai

 

illustration 12

By Victo Ngai

 

illustration 140

By Sedat Girgin

 

illustration 15

By Sedat Girgin

 

illustration 18

By Orlando Arocena

 

illustration 19

By Orlando Arocena

 

robot_webb

By Johan Thörnqvist

 

lampa

By Johan Thörnqvist

Who are your favorite illustrators?

Related Articles:
Cult classics: Movie and TV illustrations
The most-liked illustration in the TRIBE GAGA contest is…
Posters without limits: killer designs from 99designs’ illustration contest
Create a cartoon character using Adobe Illustrator
Designer profile: Stefaaan

The author

Alex Bigman
Alex Bigman

Alex contributes from New York City on topics ranging from branding and typography to the history of design.

Related articles

The amazing stylistic history of comic books

The amazing stylistic history of comic books

In a time when audiences were racing in droves to catch the latest talkie and hand-drawn animation was just finding its legs, a new medium brought kids (and adults, let’s be honest) back to reading. Comic books began as a dime-store novelty, and since then, they have gone through countless transformations, artistic explorations, public excises,…

The surreal and stylized illustrations of Kuziola

The surreal and stylized illustrations of Kuziola

Andrzej Kuziola is a full-time, self-taught artist who joined 99designs to explore new creative challenges and experiences. We first discovered him when he was nominated—and then won—our first 99awards competition this year with his stunning illustration for a fantasy novel. Born in Poland and now residing in the United Kingdom, Kuziola began his career as a dentist…

Is this the year of illustration?

Is this the year of illustration?

Illustration dates back long before the invention of writing. We are talking cave painting—Lascaux and Altamira to be precise. With at least 40,000 years of history, it seems clear that human beings (irrespective of culture or background) have a deep and abiding connection with the illustrated image. While writing was often a tool for the elite, for…

Current Design Contests

Designers, check out these contests so you can start building your career.
0%