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On the Edge of Failure
By Alejandro Chavetta – I’m in Hollywood to meet photographer Joe Pugliese. I walk past star-studded sidewalks and restaurants you’ve seen a million times on movies and TV, but there are no celebrity sightings, just regular Angelenos going about their business. It’s a fitting match for Joe’s photographs, which bridge the gap between stars and civilians by normalizing the celebrity and elevating the rest of us to a hero expression of ourselves.

Today, Joe is known for celebrity portraits of Jennifer Lopez, President Obama, Jamie Lee Curtis, and many others that appear in such publications as Wired, Variety, and Texas Monthly, but what most folks don’t know is that Joe got his start putting out a BMX zine using his mom’s Xerox machine, a starting point rooted in graphic design that continues to inform his practice even now.

In high school, I made a Xerox zine of me and my BMX friends. I was having a lot of fun with the graphic design and realized that I needed to take some photos for it, so I picked up a yard-sale camera.

I was still more interested in graphic design as I started shooting. And it was a little clumsy because I would shoot and then I would take it to the processing lab, wait a day or two, get back a print that would get messed up, or I wanted it to be bigger or smaller. Photography didn’t click for me until I set up a darkroom. My parents let me black out the window in my bedroom, and I had another yard sale find of an enlarger and trays and caustic chemicals. It was the most rudimentary set-up.

I had a book that showed me how to develop in a dark room. The first time I put that print into the developer and nothing happened, I thought, “Total failure. Why did I bother with this?” And as I’m thinking about the failure, the print comes up, the image appears, and it was absolute magic. I wasn’t a failure. I could shoot and be in control of the output from start to finish. more>

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Rachel Demetz: Coaxing Light Out of Darkness
By Joe Shepter – For many of us, art is a source of pleasure; for Rachel Demetz, it has been a lifesaver. Plagued by chronic depression at the age of 18, she decided to enroll in Serra i Abella, a small illustration school near Barcelona. There, she began experimenting with techniques that combined different media.

“I had a deep depression and turned to art to survive,” she says. “I painted a lot when I was a kid and started to play with photography as a teen. Mixing them is a very important part of what I do.”

Demetz found commercial success quite early in her career. Right after she graduated from art school, she received a surprise commission from Costalamel, a streetwear brand based in Barcelona—and she has been an independent artist ever since.

“I really didn’t expect that,” she says. “All my life I thought I couldn’t make a living through my art, and I’d never seriously thought of being an artist.”

Nonetheless, four years later, the 25-year-old Demetz regularly receives commissions for album covers, T-shirts, and fashion marketing—often via her popular Instagram account. She also has a broad portfolio of personal work, in which she explores the relationship between darkness and light. more>

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Keeping It Weird with Jorsh Pena
By Kelly Turner – Looking at Jorsh Peña’s colorful, surreal illustrations is like peeking through a window into your subconscious and discovering a party in full swing. The guests are playful and weird, but also slightly unnerving—things could turn ugly if the music stops for too long.

For Peña, who grew up in Mexicali and now lives in Tijuana (both in northern Mexico), exposing the dark or mysterious side of seemingly simple objects is part of the thrill of illustration. His style is a warm blend of geometry, Mexican culture, and a fascination with the occult.

“I always want to say something with deep meaning, not just a friendly and weird doodle,” he says. “I love that people don’t usually notice the mystic and twisted messages hidden in my illustrations.”

Peña’s journey as an illustrator began 15 years ago while studying marketing and running a clothing brand with friends. Looking for fresh design inspiration, he stumbled upon the now-defunct Illustration blog Mundo, which featured different illustrators and their work.

“I fell in love with that webpage instantly,” says the artist. “I spent endless hours watching all those incredible and different styles of artwork. After that, I felt the need to create something of my own.” more>

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Hitting the Right Notes in Illustration
By Joe Shepter – At some point in their lives, everyone draws,” says illustrator Gabriel Silveira. “Some people continue to draw, but most stop.”

That’s the humble way the 35-year-old Brazilian describes his path to becoming a highly sought-after professional illustrator. Silveira’s futuristic and intensely graphical creations have graced the pages of magazines like ESPN, Wired, and the Harvard Business Review, and enhanced brands and events like Loot Crate and the MCM London Comic Con.

He admits that as he was growing up, he was much more of a fan than a prodigy. Early on, he discovered the Brazilian cartoonists Laerte and Angeli, as well as Franco-Belgian bandes dessinées, becoming fascinated with artists like Hergé and Moebius. From there, he moved on to American titles and developed a particular affinity for the X-Men. Along the way, he noticed that the comic books didn’t merely have an author; they also credited an illustrator.

This sparked an idea that emerged when he graduated from design school in 2005. After struggling to find a design job in Sao Paulo’s competitive advertising scene, Silveira landed a position as an assistant for noted Brazilian illustrator Carlo Giovanni, with whom he trained diligently for nine months. When Giovanni decided to take his practice in the new direction, he generously shared his editorial contacts with Silveira, who quickly established himself as a talented freelancer. more>

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Seeing Music with Amelie Satzger
By Brendan Seibel – For German photographer Amelie Satzger, music has always intertwined with the creative impulse.

As a youth, she performed in a band with a good friend. When that partnership split, her imagination found refuge behind the lens of a camera. “I was searching for another medium I could put my creativity into,” says Satzger. “I would ride around on my bike searching for cool locations to shoot. I was just imaging something in there that could maybe look good and then putting my camera on a tripod and trying it out. I didn’t really care if the picture came out well or not. I just tried everything.”

But even as her artistic focus changed, the music was there inspiring the visual narratives she created. While studying photography in Munich, she began translating lyrics that moved her into a series of richly colored, evocative self-portraits.

Then a thought struck her: Why not have the musicians themselves star in the scenes their songs inspired?

“I want to visualize lyrics from musicians into my own colorful world and I want the musician to be a part of the picture,” says Satzger. more>

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The Simple Life
By Jenny Carless –By day a graphic designer, by night a nature photographer, Anders Bundgaard focuses on simplicity, no matter the medium.

Bundgaard’s interest in graphic design was first piqued during an internship at an advertising agency. After finishing school, he sought out a series of courses—including year-long programs in print and reproduction, drawing, advertising, and multimedia—to develop the skills he needed.

At 21, Bundgaard moved from Denmark to London in search of new and interesting work. “My first job here was for a company that designed film posters,” he says. “I really liked the work and continued in that direction.”

Today, Bundgaard’s graphic design work is mainly aimed at the film industry. His portfolio includes film posters, motion graphics for trailers, and title sequences.

Whether working in print or motion, his preferred style is simple and clean.

“I try to get to the core of a project and then distill it down to the bare minimum to communicate the idea,” he says. more>

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By Cristina Daura – llustrator Cristina Daura grew up steps away from an amusement park. A trail led straight from her house to the top of Barcelona’s Tibidabo mountain, where a large church looms over a colorful theme park full of twinkly lights, charming roller coasters, creepy vintage animatronics, and sweet-smelling air. Daura’s family held an annual pass, so she could pop in any time. Today, the artist’s playful but dark illustrations are clearly inspired by the kitsch, the bright colors, and her memories of this extraordinary place.

A bit of an outcast when she was younger, Daura found her community at comic book stores. Always with a sketchbook in hand, she thought she wanted to design comic books for a living. When she found out that illustration work paid better, she switched gears—but she continues to take inspiration from the way comics tell a story.

Daura also uses symbols and an intentionally limited color palette to communicate, with many symbols repeated in multiple works. With the symbols, Daura has created her own representational language—and because she doesn’t like to explain her work, the viewer is left to interpret meaning on their own. more>

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The Courage to Follow a Dream
By Jenny Carless – Changing professions takes courage, hard work, and a little bit of luck, as Lisbon-based illustrator Tiago Galo knows very well: a few years ago, he took a leap of faith and turned a hobby into a successful career.

Working as an architect but still harboring a life-long dream to be an illustrator or comic book artist, Galo entered a major comic book competition in Portugal—and won.

“I took that as a sign that I should embrace my dream once and for all,” he says.

The decision seems to have been a good one, if measured by the clients he has attracted in the past four years—including Google, National Geographic Travel, GQ, Time Out, and the Financial Times. Galo also sells his work as a premium contributor on Adobe Stock.

Galo is self-taught, because when he was starting out as a young artist, few options for studying illustration existed in Portugal.

“The only possibility was to attend some workshops here and there and start your own path,” he says. “That worked well for me, as I was pursuing my own style and techniques.”

Galo’s style is simple and colorful—featuring geometric shapes and exaggerated proportions. more>

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Bailey Sullivan Is Busy
By Terri Stone – Bailey Sullivan is a graphic designer for WeWork, a company that rents shared workspaces. Part of her job involves traveling to WeWork offices around the world and embellishing them with her art on walls, rugs, signs, sculptures, benches, and more. On top of globe-hopping for work, she also juggles freelance clients and personal projects.

“It’s a hard balance of wanting to be creating all of the time while not neglecting your relationships and personal health,” Sullivan says. She’s learned that adding a “buffer day”—or two—into timelines for freelance projects helps maintain her sanity.

Sullivan’s pieces sometimes read as folk art for the modern age. “I’m obsessed with old European floral illustrations,” she says. “My husband spent a few years living in Budapest as a child; awhile back I was searching online for something special from that area for him and I came across all of these amazing vintage Hungarian floral stamps and embroideries. I instantly connected with that imagery and how graphic and bright the flowers were and how they were stylized in a way that feels more decorative than a realistic still life.” more>

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A Catalogue of Imaginary Beings
By Serena Fox – Imagine a world of monumental mythical beings dressed in surreal costumes: people made of mountains, city streets, rough-sawn logs, or plumes of steam; people who wear houses, bird wings, crystalline geodes, or even the moon.

That was the vision of collage artist Johanna Goodman in 2015 when she embarked on A Catalogue of Imaginary Beings, a personal project inspired by magical realism, surrealism, and symbolism that explores the role of the individual in fashion, history, and the artistic imagination. Four years later, the project has grown into a series of moret than 350 playful and strangely iconic images, and has led to a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship, commissions from National Geographic and the New York Metropolitan Transport Authority, and ad campaigns ranging from skateboards to West Elm home furnishings.

“I keep thinking it’s run its course, but it hasn’t,” says Goodman. “I have not run out of ideas, and I keep getting more interest from the outside world.”

A diverse artist, Goodman works in paint, ink, and digital collage, and she brings more than 20 years’ experience in editorial illustration and portraiture to the project. A lifelong freelancer based in Nyack, New York, she creates illustrations for newspapers and magazines, book covers, hotel chains, and product advertising. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker, Time, Rolling Stone, Le Monde, the Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian, and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The Imaginary Beings are her current passion.

The basic concept is straightforward: a single figure—defined by head, arms, and feet—dressed in unusual objects and placed in a surreal setting. But the resulting images are both humorous and oddly archetypal and statuesque, like pop-culture totems.

Goodman takes photographs of everyday objects and landscapes, cuts them into pieces, and arranges them to “clothe” her characters in bizarre and beautiful outfits. She plays with cumbersome proportions, favors out-of-context facial expressions, and adds innocuous items like iPhones or coffee cups as if they were talismans. more>

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