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Costa Rican illustrator Adrian Mangel draws the modern American landscape

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24-year-old illustrator Adrian Mangel lives in New York — where he studied at Parsons — but he grew up in Costa Rica. “Being born and raised in Costa Rica definitely influenced the way I consume images,” Adrian tells us. “For a country that doesn’t have a very solid pre-Columbian culture, the influence of American culture is very strong. In a way this gave me a free pass to appropriate images that aren’t necessarily from here, but are relevant (or present) across cultural borders. Experiences of daily life, popular culture, sports, politics, are all things that are present in the lives of people around the globe and this makes them worth exploring. This is mostly how I chose my subject matter. Also, football is religion in Costa Rica, so that always manages to creep back into my work somehow.”

We featured Adrian’s hand-drawn playing cards football’s most famous stars in the summer of 2015 back when the phrase Top Trumps was altogether less confusing. These days, Adrian is keeping himself busy drawing the inside of petrol stations. “I started on this series on gas station interiors after driving around the US with a friend,” he explains. “In a period of political unrest in the country, with two very distinct points of view, the trip was extremely timely in trying to understand the break between the two sides. The gas stations took the form of a base, where we would interact with other humans in the middle of our long hours on the road. Funnily, the seemingly bland interiors were what I recall the most of the trip, becoming my idea of the modern American landscape.”
 
“My practice has always revolved around my experimentation in materiality,” Adrian tells us of the thought process behind his drawings. “I choose something from my daily routine, whether it is sports from the television screen or food in the supermarket, and I create an image using the materials I think are most fun. My work is very process-oriented, the final product is unpredictable and many times I have created several versions of the same subject. Subject matter is secondary, I’m not trying to revolutionise a viewer’s mindset, I’m more interested in portraying emotions; the emotions I think subjects feel, the emotion I have when I encounter a subject, and the emotion I experience when creating my work.”

Adrian tells us that he is increasingly influenced by painters (“Martin Kippenberger, Neo Rauch, Polke, Baselitz, all those Germans really know how to paint. Raymond Pettibon is another big influence, David Humphrey, Rose Wylie… there’s so many”) but his approach remains refreshingly intuitive. “I start with an image I want to represent and just go along from there. My choices in the making process are not too self-aware; I don’t analyse while I’m creating and I think this spontaneity is what defines my aesthetic. My works reflect my quickness of hand, my preferences in colour, and the lack of analysis in my process; this is what binds my practice together aesthetically. Although I don’t strive for aesthetic cohesiveness in my work, it is a result of my creative habits rather than an end in itself.

Despite the political undercurrents currently swirling beneath his flamboyant renderings of the banal, Adrian remains determined not to take his craft too seriously. “The most important part of my working process is that it is enjoyable, so the subjects have another meaning for me,” he says. “I have to make it fun, through a humorous approach or through material experimentation. I reference things I actually like. If it’s not fun to make, it’s not going to be fun to see, so why even make it? Recreation is the reason for being for my work.”

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Robbaileylistint Work / Illustration Rob Bailey talks through creating over 40 posters for London Underground

If you’ve been catching the London Underground recently you will have spotted Rob Bailey’s striking illustrations for Transport for London. Rob’s vivid drawings balance informative illustration with visually pleasing design, advising commuters and tourists day to day. 

Ellen_van_engelen_int_list Work / Illustration Ellen van Engelen takes us on a trip with her psychedelic illustrations

Belgian illustrator Ellen van Engelen’s colourfully psychedelic images make us think of hazy summer days, with a touch of 70s nostalgia. With loose linework and curvy figures, comic books have been a big inspiration to Ellen. “I’m a big fan of the older Franco-Belgian comic books, some of my favourite artists are Gérard Lauzier, Moebius, Tito Topin, Tardi, Miguel Calatayud, and Claire Bretécher,” she says.

Andrea_ucini_itsnicethat_list2 Work / Illustration Andrea Ucini’s conceptual illustrations play with perspective

Illustrator Andrea Ucini creates conceptual images that are inspired by everyday life. “In each illustration I try to create as much as possible, without letting the concept be expressed through an image too distant from reality,” explains Andrea. Currently represented by the Anna Goodson Illustration Agency, he has been commissioned by Wired, Scientific American and John Hopkins University among others. “The thing I enjoy most is the challenge proposed when I receive the article to illustrate. The creative part and when the idea takes shape is almost like a drug,” explains Andrea. “Thinking and processing the perfect visual version, in which all these words can be melted in an image is priceless!”

Jee-ook_choi_itsnicethat_list Work / Illustration Jee-ook Choi conveys complex ideas using fine linework and muted colours

South Korean illustrator Jee-ook Choi has adopted a minimal approach to her work and describes her style as “dry and poetic”. We shared her poster work and illustrations last year and while Jee-ook is still conveying ambiguous narratives through considered linework, it’s clear Jee-ook has pared back her images even more, making us focus on the finer details.

Cornelius-de-bill-baboul-peelosophies-zine-nieves_list-schopenhauer_2 Work / Illustration Cornelius de Bill Baboul’s Peelosophies is toilet humour at its finest

Philosophy and urination aren’t topics often combined in art, but it’s a niche in which illustrator Cornelius De Bill Baboul appears to be an expert. “I have read philosophy on the toilet seat for almost ten years,” he explains, describing his new zine with publisher Nieves as “the thesis for my PeeHD in Peelosophy”.

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