This article is an inspiration dose, and it’s also an introduction. In a single publication, I gathered twenty of the most talented and popular digital artists of our time. These people work in different styles, in different countries, and each of them has their own message and audience. They embrace digital painting, character design, 3D, environment art and other illustration and art forms. What unifies all these people is the significance of their creativity and the fact that they express modern digital art through their works like no one else.
The Rusted Pixel, Ireland
Paul aka The Rusted Pixel is an outstanding 3D designer from Ireland. In his portfolio, you’ll find projects for Adobe, Google, Disney, Spotify, MTV, and other companies most designers and artists strive to work with. However, the thing I adore most about Paul is the incredible worlds and characters he creates.
He draws inspiration from the countryside and coastline of Donegal, where he’s from. So every digital art illustration is filled with local coziness and a simple yet fairytale vibe. Every detail has its story, and by creating the smooth, flexible textures Paul turns on the tactile curiosity. So it feels like you are really touching all those teeny-tiny leaves or kitchen utensils and get closer to Paul’s digital universe.
Ori Toor, Israel
As Ori Toor describes himself, he’s an illustrator, creating freestyle worlds to get lost in”. And there are no words to describe his digital art work better! He is a passionate doodler who draws multi-level, fantasy plots and characters without prior sketching or planning. His unique approach to improvisation allows the view to get instantly grabbed by Ori’s flow of imagination and manner to create digital worlds from a single idea.
In Ori’s portfolio, there are bold abstractions, sci-fi art, multiple psychedelic compositions, and even looped animations. The latter, by the way, are drawn in a gritty style, which differs them from Ori’s overall aesthetics. He mainly uses flat style, so in order to convey mood and space or establish relations between the objects and layers inside the digital artwork, he uses lots and lots of color. And that’s just wow!
mbsjq ∆, United Kingdom
“Impressionist at heart, a surrealist in execution” — this is how mbsjq, aka Jonathan Quintin, describes himself, and there are hardly words to describe this digital artist better. He is a crypto and concept artist enchanted by surrealist philosophy and outer space aesthetics, and so are his artworks. In his series, he always sets the viewers on a new space journey, and you can be sure to be fascinated and strongly inspired by his bizarre futuristic fantasies.
We’ve seen almost everything in the works of the best digital artists, and that makes mbsjq stand out. Indeed, soft pop is a trend, however in the arms of mbsjq it gets a whole new approach. You do get surprised, and you never know what kind of visual plots and characters he will mold next in his new digital artwork. A merge of space and florals? Candy-colored cyberpunk? Abstract 3D portraits? Well, yes, yes, and yes.
Mike Winkelmann or Beeple is one of the top digital artists of our time. He creates 3D art known for conceptual, dystopian works with a very sharp reflection on the modern pop culture. He’s also famous for selling the most expensive NFT. I don’t find it surprising as Mike’s perception of reality is something that can’t leave a single person cold. Cinema4D videos and animations, parodies, caricatures, and album covers — both as a digital illustrator and modern artist, he shows extreme audacity mixed with a powerful yet grim touch of cyberpunk aesthetic and uncertainty.
Beeple brings together stand-out skills, unique vision, and extreme devotion to the art. Day by day, since 2007, he draws and posts sci-fi illustrations, so his micro-universe keeps expanding with time. In 2021 he sold a part of his works, Everydays — The First 5000 Days, as an NFT for the mind-blowing $98 million.
Steve Simpson, Ireland
Every time you look at Steve’s artistic illustrations, you get a little bit of a festival waltzing into your life. Even though the recent works gravitate to Mexican folk art (or a variation of it to a certain degree), it’s not all the Day of the Dead mood. Steve Simpson has dedicated a significant lifespan to wallowing in the comics creation process and build his distinctive illustration style as a digital artist.
Pattern-like, Steve’s digital illustrations are composed of teeny-tiny decorative elements, apart from the main characters, which create a vivid setting for the composition, completely erasing the borderline between reality and a fantasy world. From whiskey labels and packaging to book covers and board games — the lively and whimsical illustrations always hit it on the nail in terms of mood and inspiration vibes of a product. And you never know what the next destination is going to be in Steve’s new digital painting: a 19th-century circus or a pirate ship, rushing towards thrilling adventures!
MUTI, South Africa
MUTI is a creative studio from Cape Town which houses a team of dedicated digital illustrators and designers. Their forte is to unite multiple techniques, so every illustration or icon pack is realized in a unique style or a quintessence of illustration techniques. So while lots of artists seek consistency, these folks have peeked their teeth in visual variety and uniqueness.
The artists at MUTI have worked with multiple companies around the globe: from Nike and Fortnite to Uniqlo and The Washington Post. Their portfolio contains line art, ethnic motives, classic and isometric flat style, Art Deco, digital sketching, and compositions made with the power of shaders. And I’m sure I’ve missed something — which is rather good than bad, as any creator will find something familiar and inspiring.
So Lazo, El Salvador
So Lazo is a digital artist, illustrator, tattoo designer, and, as she calls herself, a designer of silly clothes. In her illustrations, she blurs the border between fantasy and reality, creating vivid plots and characters. Another distinctive feature that highlights Lazo’s approach to paining is the palette that often centers around the popping pink and cotton candy hues. Interestingly, such color solutions are merged with a powerful feminist message, giving them a whole different value.
Lazo’s world is inspired yet not limited to the myths and stories of her culture. In her physical and digital artworks, he brings the relationships between the spiritual world, the natural world, and humanity. Altogether these things come up as a fresh look at the Latin heritage that no one can escape falling for.
Jinhwa Jang, Korea
We’re just travelling from one creator’s universe to another! And this is Jinhwa Jang’s. Jinhwa is a freelance illustrator from Seoul, and every her painting is enriched with lots of peculiar details and filled with light. Indeed, you’ll be fascinated how fluently she can create ambiance and play with shadow in light in her digital illustrations, whether its something colourful, neon, game-like or monochrome and manga-styled.
Jinhwa masterly conveys the moment, and everyone looking at her artwork immideately becomes part of it. For example her Seoul-inspired series create so much of the Korean vibe and nightlife feel, that will spread all over your heard and body wherever you are.
André Ducci, Italy
André Ducci is an Italian artist and writer who creates absurd illustrations based on retro aesthetics — probably, one of the top digital artists working in this technique. He illustrates books, makes series of posters and illustrations, and with his art, you will have a tour from the roaring 20s to the 60s. He is a sophisticated user of textures and shaders with excellent skills in creating gripping color schemes for his works. Another his forte is to grab nostalgic or emotional plots and capture them on canvas — be sure to find lots of it in André’s works.
André creates the very kind of art you’d like to hang on your wall or see on your bookshelf. Speaking of the second point, he recently illustrated Talking History — a book by Joan Lennon & Joan Haig, and that would be a great purchase for everyone devoted to his style. However, if you ask me, I’m mostly in love with his bizarre Fanfare book, which is a powerful homage to the absurd retro vibe of the late 40s.
Butcher Billy, Brazil
Butcher Billy is a graphic designer and digital illustrator who brings his vision of comics art and resurrects Pop Art culture. No, I don’t mean it’s dead — however, as you review his artworks, you’ll see it take a whole new twist. In Butcher Billy’s portfolio, there are multiple projects for Netflix, Stranger Things, Black Mirror, Marvel, and more, so no more questions about powerful retro style merged with unrestrained experiments.
Through his eyes, you’ll get a whole new vision of the cinematographic legends as well as popular comics stories and TV shows — there’s hardly one Buther Billy doesn’t bring in his digital art. A few years ago, he also turned the industry upside down with his Post-Punk Marvels series: then he introduced some of his favorite rock stars as characters of superhero comic books.
Marija Tiurina, United Kingdom
For everyone crazy about Bosch’s multiple-plot paintings with hundreds of characters and scenes captured on a single canvas, Marija Turina’s style will be a gripping discovery. However, instead of grim medieval aesthetics, she draws vibrant search-and-find paintings full of life and joy. And yet I won’t deny all creators care about minor details in their own manner, Marija is probably the best digital artist who’s mastered it. You just need to look at her digital artworks to see for yourself.
Every character in her illustrations is overfilled with emotions and unique features to highlight their personalities. Marija’s Coffee Characters was the first project I saw from her. I immediately fell for those powerful females brought to embody popular coffee drinks, and since then, my love for her emotional cartoonish style keeps growing — as well as Marija’s mastership that she brings to more and more projects, including her recently released search-and-find book, Where are you.
Matt Schu, USA
Matt Schu (Schumacher) is a digital artist and illustrator from Portland with an immense passion for drawing houses. Indeed, humans are relatively rare characters of his artworks, and instead, he prefers discovering the mood of houses and gardens. The idea of Matt’s artistry is to focus rather on the emotional aspect than on objects, and from this position, he sees lots of meaning, emotion and inspiration in houses.
As Matt experiments with setting and details, he can convey any vibe without actually telling or showing anything precise — and that’s where the magic comes up. Matt released a few self-published books and zines, which are a chance to continue the journey across his creative universe. Particularly if you are interested in spicing up your digital illustrations and improving the traditional gouache & inking technique.
Antoni Tudisco, Germany
Antoni Tudisco is a creative director & 3D visual artist from Hamburg, one of the greatest digital artists practicing modern surrealism and selling NFT. He’s worked with Nike, Adidas, Versace, Google, Mercedes Benz, D&G, etc., and won several notable design awards. His style features smooth 3D shapes and textures polished by a bright color palette: neon pink to gold.
In his artworks, Antoni likes to reinvent digital physics and explore the laws of nature work on a case-by-case basis. This is seasoned by his unleashed interest in surrealist, street and Asian visual concepts that he resorts to more and more frequently. Such surrealist experiments are often embedded into branding campaigns, so it’s not something extraordinary for Antoni to use the Nike logo as piercing or stick a pair of snickers to one’s face with duct tape.
Ben Bauchau, Belgium
While some digital artists create their own worlds, Ben Bauchau is the one, who explores them — as he states himself. These worlds are surrealist, fairy-tale and a little dark, and such quintessence is Ben’s signature. The first series I discovered in his portfolio was Place For My Dark Thoughts, a book of contemplative illustrations in inking technique made to share support with people who go through anxiety and internal conflict. The same message partially permeates Ben’s artistry.
Ben’s visual stories are based on Japanese mecha aesthetics and Ukiyo-e art and cosmic, fantastic plots. His characters create a mix of multiple cultures, however he is greatly interested in building samurai-like personalities: lonely warriors, wanderers and explorers, captured in futurist environment. Currently, his arts are not limited to drawings, as he equally releases animations with a similar post-aplocalytic approach.
David Sossella, Italy
Traditional Japanese style motifs intertwine with the Soviet agitation posters in mysterious plots, told by David Sossella, and illustrator and graphic designer from Italy. The robust colors dance in the eye-pleasing mixture of fantasy worlds with a take on real-life inventions, machinery, and old-school means of transport. It takes some time to spot all the details, carefully packed in hidden meanings, spiced up with fantastic allegories. Every character has a resistless charm, hooking your attention and never letting go. That’s a brief story of me discovering this ingenious author, actually.
David has come a long way to becoming one of the top digital artists collaborating with many international brands like Ray-Ban, Hasbro, Disney, Air Emirates, Poste Italiane, and others. Besides, David Rosella is a founder of Gusto Robusto, an independent project creating and promoting art prints in vector technique. On his Instagram page, you may find various experiments with style for your inspiration — there Davind demonstrates a sheer contrast of applied techniques and the process of sketching out the future compositions!
Alex Heywood, Australia
I haven’t paid enough attention to the digital artists who draw animals and wildlife, so let me fix it by introducing the incredible freelance artits, Alex Heywood with his astonishing universe filled with extraordinary creatures. On the one hand, his artworks are an example of what search-and-find illustration can and should be: a soft palette complementing teeny-tiny characters that altogether set up a complete plot for a story. On the other hand, these are the children’s books illustrations of our dreams, as Alex masterly creates emotional and realistic personalities. Everyone, from bossy police-frogs to timid squirrel-like critters, goes far beyond a fictional character image.
In 2021 Alex related his first graphic novel, Pet Human. The story was written by a renowned film director David Guy Levy and Emmy Award-winning creative director Steffen Schlachtenhaufen. Alex has made the illustrations and created a unique visual experience, so this book is a must-have collectible for everyone who loves his cozy, narrative style.
James Gilleard, United Kingdom
According to the classic academic art books, any object can be reduced to simple geometric elements. It’s totally accurate, but how about creating a complex digital illustration with all the details being the same geometric shapes put together? James Gilleard does it as smoothly as assembling a building blocks castle. Praising pop culture, architecture in lo-fi colors, and mysterious space, he casts his artistic spells on canvas to deliver even the most sophisticated things around us, made of different geometric pieces.
There’s something extraordinary about every vector landscape or architecture illustration James released: the imagery has a calming retro tint, creating an indescribable kind of nostalgia for the times we’ve probably never even lived in. And for the video game geeks and cinemaholics, there’s an extensive collection of concept arts, posters, and “based on” projects to spot all the references and probably observe the favorite masterpieces from a different viewpoint.
Romain Trystram, Morocco
Romain Trystram is a freelance illustrator & art director whose unique style is based on cyberpunk landscapes and fascination with neon-lit urban architecture. But don’t let yourself limit the perception of his art to the skyscrapers in the Cyberpunk 207 aesthetic, as Romain will always go beyond every foreseen style.
He is a savvy user of gradients and 1980 futurist attributes, so in his artworks, Romain hovers between the distinctive retro and ultra-modern visual approach. This makes one of the best digital artists able to embrace almost everything in their works without turning them into a colorful mess. Travel sketches, quick animations, adverting campaigns for any global company like Volkswagen or Affinity promo, or a very personal reflection on the urban appearance of megapolis — every painting is a perfect balance between futurist neon, color, and very precise, verified geometry that soothes the eye.
Milka Oxana, Russia
Oxana is a Russian freelance artist working in a surrealist, psychedelic style. She is known and loved for her manner in expressing strong emotion through her characters. Her universe is mainly built upon fantastic creatures, anthropomorphic skulls, and female images. The latter is a powerful reflection of Oxana’s thoughts about a woman’s body perception and personality.
For me, getting to know Oxana’s incredibly cure digital art always ends with a self-discovery and feels like a therapy session — not always rejoicing, but extremely healing. And form an artistic point, Oxana is an example of stylistic versatility and consistency in developing her skills and the works she draws.
RULEBYART is a team of digital artists who have been capturing their creative ideas and the beauty of abstraction for almost a decade. Their digital artworks are something you will never stop being fascinated and inspired by. Whatever gets into their focus: organic textures, minerals, human body, extraterrestrial materials transform into a work of art with their own message and story.
Robert Marks, the founder of the project, has been doing applied, visual and digital art for over twenty years. As a devoted digital artist and illustrator, he runs multiple experiments in different fields of design. With his unlimited interest in the evolution of art, he keeps transferring his vision of abstraction, so every collection or product released by RULEBYART feels like a new wave both visually and technically.
Frequently Asked Questions
The most famous digital artists of the XXI century are:
- Beeple (known for his most expensive NFTs ever sold)
- mbsjq ∆ (an NFT artist focusing on surrealist 3D)
- Butcher Billy (outstanding master of pop art aesthetics)
- Ori Toor (freelance illustrator know to create soft loops and digital improvisations)
- Antoni Tudisco (3D and concept artist focusing on visual and physics experiments)