Thursday, 31 January 2013

The reality check - 10 influential artists, who are better than me!

I pour my heart and soul into the work I do. I spend hours alone, sometimes passing on going out with friends or family to stay in and work instead. So when I see other artist's work, which is (seemingly) effortlessly a million times better than mine, it's easy to be disheartened. 

However I've learned over the years to turn that feeling into motivation. Rather then give up because I will never be as good as them, I am determined to learn from them and to keep drawing until one day I can be up there with the best... I still have some way to go!

So in no particular order, here are my top ten artists that influence me. 
I must state that this is not a list of the best artists of all time, although in my opinion some of them just might be, this is more of a personal list to show you a selection of artists who mean a lot to me and have helped me morph into the illustrator I am today. Hopefully you will find someone on this list who will inspire you too!


Jamie Hewlett
There was no hesitation to putting Jamie Hewlett here. One of the first artists to really hit me hard, and one of the biggest influences for picking up a pencil. It all started when I bought a copy of Deadline in the early 90's. Inside was a young Punk who drove a tank and had a mutant kangaroo for a boyfriend. I was hooked!

Jamie Hewlett was influenced by another great artist who I love, Brendan McCarthy, but for the sake of this list, I'll be missing Brendan out, sorry! However I would advise anyone reading to go and check out his work on Rogan Gosh.

Jamie Hewlett's 'Tank Girl'
English artist Hewlett works close with bands and has done commissions for Pulp, Mindless Self Indulgence and more. He is the co-creator of the animated band Gorillaz alongside Damon Albarn, and created costumes and animation sequences for Monkey: A Journey to the West. However in my eyes his greatest creation will always be Tank Girl.

Work to check out; Tank Girl, Gorillaz, Hewligan's Haircut, Phoo Action



I found Magritte through researching Salvador Dali, and although both are Surrealists, Magritte got deeper into my skin then Dali ever did and so he beats Dali to be on this list.

Rene Francois Ghislain Magritte was a Belgian surrealist artist. If you are not familiar with Surrealism, it is an philosophical art movement that started in the 1920's, and featured works that challenged the audience's perception of reality. What I liked most about the work of Surrealism, is that it made me think, it is thought provoking and encourages you to question not just the art, but life too.

 Magritte's work does just this. Perhaps his most famous work is "Ceci n'est pas une pipe" - which translates into; 'This is not a pipe.' The painting does seem to contradict this, but of course it is not a pipe, it is a painting of a pipe. 

Work to check out; Young Girl Eating a Bird, The Human Condition, The Eternally Obvious, The Good Omens, The Tiredness of Life


I discovered Chris while reading Paul Stewart's 'The Edge Chronicles', series, which Chris illustrated beautifully. His scratchy, detailed style and the way he depicted the characters with such emotion and style inspired me to do the same with my own art. 

A British illustrator born in South Africa, Chris Riddell is also a political cartoonist for The Observer, and occasionally writes his own books too. Possibly my favourite thing about Chris is the way he draws the human form.

Work to check out; Beyond the Deepwoods, Stormchaser, Beowulf and the Monster, Dakota of the White 



I don't remember exactly how I found Coop, but his work is everywhere in my life, and most likely yours too.

Coop is commercially successful; hotrods, t-shirts and clothing, stickers, skate boards, toys, lighters, posters; the list is endless. 
American born Chris Cooper, aka Coop, skipped art school and went straight to fame. I noticed him mostly after seeing his band posters for the likes of Nirvana, Soundgarden, the Sex Pistols as well as album cover art for the Ramones and so on. Even his pop-art feel pin ups featuring devils, monsters, aliens can't be overlooked. It is bright, bold and a little bit naughty. What is not to love? 
One which is best not to show the kids or your Gran, but definitely one to show everybody else!

Work to check out; Coop's devils, Vans footwear, skateboards, posters,


It was awfully difficult to narrow this list down to just ten people, but Josh Kirby is definitely deserving of a place. I love to read, and Terry Pratchett's 'Discworld' novels were a favourite of mine as a child. Kirby seemed to capture the complete essence of the book in a single illustration.

Born Ronald William Kirby on the outskirts of Liverpool, England, he worked mostly in Oils, and his unique style and detailed paintings are mystical, fantastical and instantly recognisable. He died at the age of 72 and the Discworld artwork was taken over by Paul Kidby, who does a great job.

Work to check out; Discworld, Monty Python's Life of Brian, Star Wars



This really was a tough one. I had several comic artists on my list but still wanted more. Ed Benes and Frank Quitely both very nearly made it, but in the end I chose Mr Lee.

Korean born, American raised comic book artist Jim Lee's work speaks for itself. He has worked on X-men, Batman, Superman and more. Chances are if you're a fan of comics, you're a fan of Jim Lee. Jim made it on this list because he has contributed so much to the comic world, not just his fantastic art, but also editing, publishing and he now stands as Co Publisher of DC Entertainment. His work is incredibly detailed, striking, and world famous - rightly so!

For those who know me, it is one of Jim Lee's Batman illustrations that I have tattooed onto my shoulder.

Work to check out; Batman: Hush, Deathblow: Sinners and Saints, Gen 13, Superman, Justice League



Have you ever seen one of those illustrations, that at first glance looks like a photograph? That's Sorayama's game. 

Famous for his realistic pin-ups, Japanese illustrator Hajime Sorayama paints with such fine detail it is mind blowing. If like me, you love robots, then his beautiful feminine robotic women complete with chrome finish, with take your breath away. Aerosmith's 'Just Push Play' album features one of his best. Who is ready to be impressed?

Work to check out; Sony, George Lucas, Playboy, Disney

Website; (Contains artistic nudity)


I'm sure everybody reading this has read one of Roald Dahl's books, and I'm equally as sure that if you did, you enjoyed looking at the accompanying illustrations.

Sir Quentin Saxby Blake is an English illustrator, best known for his fun and quirky illustrations in the Roald Dahl books. He has contributed to over 300 books, 35 of which he has written himself! I could list numerous children's book illustrators, but Mr Blake makes it here because his work takes me back to my childhood, reading under the quilt with a torch late into the night. 
Fantastic Mr Fox, The BFG, George's marvellous medicine, The Twits and all the others will be with me forever, and that's partly thanks to the pictures drawn by Quentin Blake.

Work to check out;Books by Roald Dahl, David Walliams, Dr Seuss


Hans Rudolf Giger is a Swiss Surrealist painter, sculptor and set designer. He works mostly in airbrush, and creates the most bizarre, dreamlike (or should that be nightmarish?) concoctions that would make even Chris Cooper blush. 

Another one with an adult only warning I'm afraid, but he just couldn't be left off the list. Rather than attempt to describe his strange, yet fantastic work, it is best if you just go and take a look for yourself, making sure your boss is not looking over your shoulder while you do!
 Giger has admitted he suffers from 'night terrors' and his work can be attributed to the influences of the sleep disorder.

Work to check out; Alien (1979) Giger Bar, Necronomicon



While temporarily working in a call centre when I was sixteen, my boss handed me his copy of Barry Ween: Boy Genius to read. I never did get to thank him properly for the massive effect this had on me, for this was one of THE BEST comics I have ever read, and still re-read to this day.

Judd Winick was born in New York and was originally famous for being on a reality TV show called 'The Real World.' I didn't see this, but his artwork is fun, captivating and features lot's of apes / monkeys so it's a winner in my book! 

Perhaps what really sells Judd's work is his fantastic writing, I wouldn't recommend you give Barry Ween to your children though, I did warn you. Judd has moved to the big league and now writes and creates artwork for a plethora of DC comics, including Batwing and Catwoman.

Work to check out; The Life and Times of Juniper Lee, Barry Ween: Boy Genius, Pedro and Me, Frumpy the Clown


That's it! These are just people who have somewhat helped me to do what I do today, but I am constantly discovering artists new and old. If you think I've made a huge mistake and overlooked someone incredible, please make a point of telling me. Thanks!

Coming soon... more project 365...


  1. Just read your 10 most influential, the only one I never heard of is RENE MAGRITTE, will have to look him up 'cos I like DALI. Don't know if you've ever heard of RICHARD POWERS, he's (or was) a sci fi surrealist who used to do book covers back in the day. Blew me away when I was a kid. Brilliant stuff !!

  2. Magritte is pretty amazing! There is a lot about his art that is apparently linked to his mother's suicide; a bit morbid but interesting reading. Thanks for recommending RICHARD POWERS, I shall certainly check him out!