In honor of the Olympics, today we're sharing the top five sports illustrators that you need to follow on Instagram. These designers focus on sharing the movement, energy, dynamism, and pure delight that exudes from the sports world.
If you've given your TV any attention these past few days, you've probably noticed the camaraderie that surrounds the games and the world of sports. And even if you don't find delight in playing or watching sports balls or non-sports balls, the art and artistry they inspire can be enjoyed by even the least coordinated of indoor kids.
Xoana Herrera | @xoana.herrera
With clients such as WeWork, Facebook, Cosmopolitan, Google, and Lyft, it's clear that Xoana Herrera is a star in the world of illustration. She describes her style by the gentle use of structural shapes to create cheery personalities with colorful backgrounds. While her feed isn't focused solely on sports illustrations, you'll find countless editorial pieces that she designed for Nike and their new Journal Platform. Her bold color choices, interesting perspectives, and sleek use of textures truly make her designs come to life in the most downright creative ways.
Paul Kelly | @paulkellydesigns
While mainly focused on designing logos and brand identities, Nigeria-based Paul Kelly also explores the depths and movements of creating athletes in motion. In 2020 he made a collection of characters as part of a personal exploration of different styles. The result is an amalgamation of dancers, volleyball players, track stars, dog walkers, and more. The colorful hues used throughout the exploration are vivid, funky, and charming. Although he is a multidisciplinary designer who creates and helps brands communicate their purpose and ideals, he also has a distinct skill set in illustrating athletes in motion and bringing them even further to life through his insightful color choices.
Martin French | @martinfrenchstudio
Based in Portland, Oregon, Martin French is an illustrator, designer, and educator. Not only is Martin currently a fascinating artist and designer, but he also happens to have an enthralling past. French spent eight years as a designer and design director at Microsoft before launching Martin French Studio in 1996 while based in Seattle. Ten years later, he moved to Portland, where he produced the BFA program in Illustration at the Pacific Northwest College of Art. Currently, he is Department Head of Illustration, BFA Chair, and an Associate Professor instructing classes in Drawing for Illustration, Visual Thesis Development, and the intersection of Design & Illustration. Through his Instagram feed, you'll discover athlete portraits that come to life through your screen thanks to the intricate lines, expressive movement, and extravagant attention to detail.
Craig Black | @_craigblack
Craig Black is a Scottish artist and independent designer specializing in typography and lettering. While he isn't exactly a sports illustrator, his sports-related designs were too good not to share. In one of his recent explorations, Black created "The Fusion Series," which examines the artistic representation of brand colors of various countries' football branding. By utilizing acrylic paint, each ball has its own unique and mesmerizing pattern. Not to mention, the series caught the attention of The Union of European Football Associations, and the two collaborated for UEFA Euro 2020.
Caroline Blanchet | @ptitecao
Caroline Blanchet ultimately decided to combine her graphic design skillset and passion for sports with a past working in advertising agencies and is now a freelancer. With clients ranging from the NBA to ESPN to FCB, she's forged her way into a successful sports career. Her posts on her Instagram feed are consistent with her technique and bring a unique perspective, concept, and various methods of featuring the different sports showcased throughout. My favorite posts are her "Sport is poetry in motion" series as they sit at the intersection of arts, athletics, and prose.