Editorial Empowerment: Part two of our August editorial feature series.

Continuing this month’s theme, the Directory of Illustration shares some of the best editorial work by DOI artists and pays homage to the essential service they provide in their field. With everything going on during the current pandemic, it is too easy to lose track of all the growing repercussions. The rise of corona virus and quarantine has coincided with a worldwide increase in domestic violence. Home isolation has made abusive relationships even worse, and mandated lockdowns leave victims with even fewer resources and nowhere to go. When a 27-year-old woman was murdered by her ex-boyfriend last month, it brought international outrage and attention to Turkey’s high femicide rate and the government’s lack of intervention. How can art give visibility to issues that are often overlooked or intentionally hidden? Just ask any of the 7 artists below, whose vibrant work helps convey female empowerment through the ongoing power of editorial illustration. Challenge accepted.

Mercedes De Bellard — Represented by Folio Art

Longlisted for the World Illustration Awards 2020, these two editorial illustrations were commissioned for articles in El País Semanal, a weekly magazine in Spain.  The first article (image right) “Who is the punishment for?” explores the treatment of women (Sonia) in Crime & Punishment. The second article (image below) untangles the complex role of feminism in fashion, specifically looking at the recent trend of hyperfemininity.
From the artist: “I decided to illustrate these texts with portraits, mirroring the underlying themes of each article through symbolic use of negative space. I used digital techniques. First, a quick sketch with the concept. Then I chose colours, making sure they work together and create contrast. Finally, negative space lets the composition breathe.”
“Chains” for El País Semenal
“Snake” for El País Semenal

Mercedes de Bellard is a well known portrait illustrator from Madrid. With her realistic yet delicately expressive style and indefinably ethereal touch, few artists can capture the soul of a portrait the way that she can. Her client list includes: Time magazine, Warner Brothers, Random House, and many more.

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Steffi Walthall is a US-based illustrator and character designer born and raised in Virginia. She was considered to be the artist of the family at a young age and could always be found with pencil and paper in hand. Steffi took this passion for art halfway down the East Coast to Georgia, where she received her BFA in Game Development from the Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD). During her time at SCAD, she developed a line-focused, graphic style. Working primarily in Photoshop, she focuses on crafting a diverse range of characters and unique stories.

Steffi draws a majority of her inspiration from mythology, history, film, and science fiction. When she isn’t busy creating something new, you can find her listening to D&D podcasts, reading comic books, or playing video games with her friends.

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Egle Plytnikaite — Represented by Rapp Art

“Women Empower” for the European Women’s Lobby
“Hope is not cancelled”
“Free the nipple” Illustration for campaign 

Based in Vilnius, Lithuania, Egle Plytnikaite is a freelance illustrator and creative whose eye-catching work seeks to challenge worldviews and current standards. Her works are minimal, colorful and conceptually driven, often utilizing subtle textures that provide a vintage warmth whilst maintaining a contemporary aesthetic. Her broad range of social, editorial and commercial projects have been commissioned by clients including: The United Nations, Die Zeit, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Monocle, Ministry of Culture of Lithuania, Vilnius University and many others.

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Alette Straathof was born and raised in a small town in The Netherlands. She received a BFA in Illustration and minored in Gamification at the Willem de Kooning Academy in 2016. Alette works exclusively as a freelance illustrator and lives in Paris, France.

Her illustrations are colorful, happy and drawn in a candid style. Mixing different analogue materials such as watercolor, Indian ink and color pencils, she creates playful paintings that make people smile. Her soft pastel-themed color palettes create relaxing and positive illustrations that immediately put viewers at ease.

Alette has worked with Scholastic publishing and received recognition for her work in their children’s literature department including a shortlisting for the Little Rebels Award 2020 with ‘Now or Never – A Dunkirk Story’, written by Bali Rai and a CLPE Staff Picks in 2019 – ‘The Diver’s Daugher’ written by Patrice Lawrence.

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Eleni Debo — Represented by Folio Art

Eleni is shortlisted for the World Illustration Awards 2020 for her cover illustration in the opinion section of Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant. The article is about a Turkish woman marrying a Dutch man, and the difficulties Turkish women face in toeing the line between traditions of their culture and forging their own path.

From the artist “I decided to do a really minimal but bold piece using that striking red Turkish flag as the base of my illustration, using very little detail. The only other colours I introduced into the piece are based on the Dutch flag so both nationalities would be represented. The illustration was done digitally.”

Eleni Debo is a Belgian illustrator, currently living in the alpine mountains of Italy. As a conceptual thinker, she has an incredible talent for distilling often complex stories and subject matter into a single thought-provoking image. Since finishing her Masters degree in Visual Arts in 2015, she’s made illustrations for books, prints, editorials and campaigns for a wide variety of international clients, including: Culture Trip,  Metaleap Creative, Chicago Design Museum,  This is Colossal,  Gestalten, La Croix Newspaper,  Bayard Presse, and De Volkskrant.

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“Eloping Tradition” for De Volkskrant

Genie is an illustrator from Barcelona, Spain. An avid reader and obsessed with animation, she began drawing from a very young age. While growing up, she studied graphic design and earned 2 High Technical Degrees in illustration and graphic design. After working as a graphic designer and as the head of marketing for several companies over the years, in 2013 she dedicated herself full time to her primary passion: ILLUSTRATION. If you’re looking for BOLD, FEARLESS, STRONG, ANGRY, and UNAPOLOGETIC characters,  Genie is the right illustrator for the job.

Her client list includes: Dreamworks, Time Out, Die Zeit, FOLD Moleskine, RIPOSTE MAG, BRAIN MAG, and many others.

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These illustrations were used for the cover (image right) and as an insert Illustration (image below) for an op-ed article in de Volkskrant by actor, columnist, and presenter Sahil Amar Aïssa. Sahil advocated sexual freedom for Moroccan-Dutch women, and received furious reactions. These illustrations helped convey the ensuing backlash and bring attention to the ongoing restrictions and inequality faced by Moroccan-Dutch women living in the Netherlands.

Joan Alturo was born in Barcelona, Spain 1990He studied Fine Arts in the Universitat de Barcelona, illustration at Escola Massana, and received his Master’s in Illustration at Arts University Bournemouth. While he was studying for his MA, he was awarded Runner-up in the Victoria and Albert student illustrator award 2016 in London. In 2018, Joan was Awarded with a Fulbright Grant for the Extension of Art Studies in the United States, graduating with a second master’s degree of illustration at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, CA.

Joan turns concepts into ideas, and expresses them through visually poetic language. In his work, effectively communicating an idea is just as important as creating an aesthetically appealing illustration. He always finds a way to express his metaphorical visual language with a critical, provocative, and fun touch.

Clients include: The Daily Telegraph, Forbes Spain.Vice Spain, La Directa and TV3 Catalan Chanel among others.

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Live Model
Cover and insert Illustration for de Volkskrant