I find video game fanart especially interesting because it's a chance to see primarily digital characters in an analog medium. And you can really see Rachel Elm's hand in her manga and video game-inspired artwork—as well as her original images. Her inking and colorwork offer an energy that lifts the characters off the screen.
One of my favorite corners of the Internet is Project: Rooftop, where artists redesign their favorite superheroes and try their hand at caped costume design. Randy Bishop is a frequent participant in redesign and fanart challenges at P:R and other art sites, which is good practice for his own project, which involves reimagining gods and mythical creatures from all over the world.
It's easy to see that Cale Atkinson comes from the world of animation, a world of carefully selected colors and deceptively simple shapes, where dark shadows alternate with childlike joy. Whether he's trying to deliver the brief but immersive sensory experience of his Little Red Riding Hood animated short or just having fun with monster illustrations, Atkinson's work is marked by a strong sense of visual language and a striking lack of cynicism.
It's easy to get a bit of tonal whiplash while perusing Nicolas Nemiri's art blog. On the one hand, he draws gigantic, tattooed men who look like they could easily crush everyone else on the page. His women run the gamut from fashion plates to spacefaring adventurers to a gal being pleasured by an octopus. And interspersed are the illustrations featuring sleeping babes, kind-hearted kids and school girls with enigmatic expressions.
I will admit that I am a total sucker for science fiction folk art, probably thanks to a childhood spent perusing my mother's Grandma Moses books while watching episodes of Deep Space Nine. And Motohiro Hayakawa has created a veritable Bayeux Tapestry of pyramid-faced warriors, headless executioners, raygun marksmen and swords that far outweigh their wielders.
The frustrating thing about following the work of a lot of visual artists is that you'll sometimes see a lovely illustration, filled with vibrant colors and lighting, attached to a caption along the lines of, "Had some free time during lunch," or, "Quick warmup sketch." Meanwhile, it takes me an hour to draw something that looks vaguely like a human being. I realize that this a skill some people develop with training and time, but it never fails to look like magic to me. Matthew Lau is one of those magicians, sharing his digital illustrations, frequently composed on his lunch hour.
Marian Churchland loves a lot of things: pastries, epic video games, uncut gemstones, impeccably structured jackets, marmalade, practical shoes, and fine chocolates. And she catalogues these loves—especially the things she truly covets—in lists that are magical even when they don't contain hints of fantasy.
Always thought politicians were monsters? In one of Mike Freiheit's politically themed illustrations, he draws the members of the 2012 US presidential tickets as classic movie monsters. (Although Joe Biden looks less like the Wolfman than Michael J. Fox's dad in Teen Wolf, which is pretty perfect.) His editorial and personal illustrations take us into the gladiator's ring with Democrats and Republicans, inside the brain of Elliott Smith and smiling through some clever animations.
There's a reason that Frank Stockton receives illustration commissions from folks like Entertainment Weekly, the New Yorker, Esquire, Mondo, IDW and Fantagraphics. He has a reverent sense of other people's properties, a luminous sense of color and an ability to construct scenes that are crowded but never overly busy.