This is the second year of our Hand Drawn
competition, which celebrates the best in illustration. To help us make sense of a crowded field, we asked for advice from the celebrated Los Angeles–based artist and designer Akiko Stehrenberger
“Judging this competition was no easy task,” she says. “There were so many talented artists and designers that just when I thought I had picked my top 30, I changed my mind all over again. My goal was to pick pieces without heavy bias; even if an approach was far from my own, I could still appreciate the concept or execution. When choosing the first-place piece, it came down to what I was most jealous that I hadn’t created myself. “
The entries at the top of this page are Stehrenberger’s top three picks.
1st Place: You’ve Got Punc’t by Minji Hong (New York City)
Personal project. Book and X-acto knife.
Stehrenberger says: “Although it’s a bit funny that this takes first place in a competition named “Hand Drawn,” it has forced me to expand my own definition of hand-done illustration. I find this a beautifully designed piece, extremely well considered and thorough. The more times I look at it, the more I discover great little details that really complement the concept. I can’t forget to mention the craftmanship and my envy for Minji’s X-acto skills (assuming Minji still has all ten fingers). I am also extremely impressed to find out that Minji is still a student at the School of Visual Arts.”
2nd Place: Grow / Wander / Find by Donovan Brien Design (Brighton, MA)
Personal project. Adobe Illustrator.
Stehrenberger says: “This portrait instantly drew me in because I can’t help getting lost in the details. The symmetry and simplicity of the composition really let the tiny details of the vines shine. It’s a great balance of sophistication and chaos, and the immense amount of planning to keep the vines continuous and fluid, while still achieving portrait likeness, is incredible. I believe color or a different crop could easily have ruined this piece.”
3rd Place: Hello Love Ducks by Another Mother (Steve Kim)
Personal project. Colored pencil, graphite, and Photoshop
Stehrenberger says: “This series as a whole made it very difficult to pick just one. It had a refreshing mix of fashion and graffiti influences, with a wonderful color palette. I finally settled on this image because it really came down to which piece I could see hanging in my home. Not only is Hello Love Ducks beautiful in its composition and its choices of where to fall away; but the mixing of media is very tasteful. It’s evident that Photoshop was used as its own media to add certain touches, not to quickly fake a hand-done look.”
The Amish Farmer by Skip Sterling
(Brooklyn). Personal project. Charcoal, pen, and digital.
Eat Real Festival 2011 by I Shot Him
(San Francisco). Client: Eat Real Festival. Digital.
Crabby Fight by Kin Lok (Rosemead, California). Personal project. Watercolor, acrylic ink, and pencil.
Inkling.com Banners by Tim Tomkinson
(Jackson Hole, WY). Client: Inkling. Art Director: Brendan Callahan. Pencil, pen, and digital.
The Best Meals Are the Ones You Share by Noah MacMillan
(St Louis). Client: AIGA St. Louis Foodstock Show. Ink with digital color.
A Book of Nonsense by Edward Lear by Gabriella Barouch
(Paris). Self-published. Digital illustration.
Meteorites (Noah’s Ark) by Antoine Revoy
(Providence, RI). Personal project. Graphite and pen.
A Selfdrawing Brain by Marco Tavolaro
(Madrid). Personal project. Red and black Bic pens, Poscas, and acrylics on paper or canvas.
In Pursuit of Little Red Riding Hood by Tracey Walker
(Uxbridge, Ontario). Personal project. Cut paper.
WikiLeaks by Emiliano Ponzi
(Milan). Client: La Repubblica newspaper. Digital. 12 Inner Muse by Nicole Fansler, Columbus, Ohio. Personal project. Sharpie on paper.
Inner Muse by Nicole Fansler
(Columbus, OH). Personal project. Sharpie on paper.
Subterranea by Rick Gooding
(Los Angeles). Personal project. Straightedge, 314 pencil, eraser, and eraser shield on paper.
Complete Clusterfu*k by Melissa Arendt
(Los Angeles). Personal project. Gouache and pencil on paper.
The Man Guide by Red Nose Studio
(Greenfield, IN). Client: Orange Coast magazine. Mixed media,
American Express: Centurion Magazine by Mira Nameth
(Brooklyn). Client: American Express. Hand-drawn pencil, pen, and ink illustrations, treated in Photoshop.
Handmade by Xavi García
(New York City). Personal project. Drypoint, screenprint, and stamps on newsprint.
Old Boy by Timothy Cheng
(Walnut, CA). Personal project. Acrylic paint and graphite on plywood panels.
Portrait No.4 by Tom Felix
(Chesham, Buckinghamshire, U.K.) Commemorative portrait. Digitally altered pencil sketch.
St. Louis Public Library Foundation Banners by Noah Woods.
Designer: Katy Fischer, Eric Thoelke; TOKY Branding + Design (St. Louis). Client: The St. Louis Public Library Foundation. Painted, then digitally retouched.
Lara by Sarah Hankinson
(Melbourne, Australia). Personal project. Greylead pencil, watercolor, and pastel.
Japan Trade Zone by Fernando Alcazar
(Barcelona, Spain). Personal project. Photoshop with custom brushes and watercolors.
American Illustration 29 Cover
Designer: Rodrigo Corral Design. Creative director: Rodrigo Corral
. Designer: Steve Attardo, New York City. Illustrator: Sam Weber
. Client: Amilus. Printed case with cream foil embossing and die-cut spine. French fold, double-sided jacket with Foundry Gridnik typeface.
Personal work by Mira Nameth
(Brooklyn). Personal project. Drawn and painted by hand using pencil, pen, and ink and treated in Photoshop.
Parallel Spaces by Veronica Padilla and Tim Young
(Boston). Photographer: Kara Kochalko. Internal project. Plastic, paper, foam, sand, miniature furniture, fishing wire, and hot glue.
Slips of Paper by Ophelia Chong
(Los Angeles). Personal project. Glue sticks, X-acto blades #11, postcards, old magazines, and found scraps of paper.
About the Judge
began her career in New York illustrating for Spin, The Source
, New York Press
, and other publications. After moving back to Los Angeles in 2004, she became an art director and designer for movie posters while still continuing to freelance as an illustrator. She is known for her illustrated movie posters for Funny Games
, Life During Wartime
, Troma’s Father’s Day
, Casa De Mi Padre
, and many more. Interview deemed her a “Poster Girl,” Creative Review
dedicated a zine to her illustrated posters for its Monograph Series, and she was a 2012 SXSW Film panelist.