Best of 2009 in the Illustration Industry

It’s the end of 2009, and like a lot of industries, it’s been a tough year for illustration. Fewer projects and tighter budgets have squeezed the community pretty hard, however, we illustrators are a resilient bunch, and the work we have seen this year never ceases to amaze (great job, everybody!). As always there are plenty to cover, so without further ado here are nine of the biggest stories and events from within the 2009 world of illustration:

Michael Jackson

(credit: Edel Rodriguez)

If 2009 was rough on illustrators, it was really rough on celebrities, every week it seemed there was a report that a movie star, socialite or politician had passed away, the most iconic of them being the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. News outlets couldn’t get enough of the story, and illustrators didn’t disappoint, all the while Thriller playing loudly in the background.
- MJ collection from drawger.

Cliched Themes


While starting a new illustration project is usually exciting, inevitably you get the call or email, read the article, and now have to figure out for the umpteenth time how not to draw windmills, euros or a medical bag. Yes, we’re talking about the assignment featuring the global financial crisis, the healthcare debate, or environmental jobs. All important topics of discussion….but please, don’t make us draw anymore dollar signs!

Death of Print


Unfortunately, this year we saw the shuttering of more magazines and newspapers. While calling it the death of print is a bit overstated, it’s sad to see them go for a number reasons, not least of which that these are an illustrator’s bread and butter. We wish magazines and newspapers better health in 2010.

Where The Wild Things Are

(credit: wikipedia )

Okay, okay, technically, this book is not from 2009, but it’s reemergence is. With the excitement that came from the release of the movie by Spike Jonze, Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s book re-won it’s way into our heart, with drawings and story that are still as magical as ever.

U2 – I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight

[vimeo clip_id="5699275"]

Here’s a brief musical interlude featuring our favorite illustrated/animated video of the year. Full disclosure, we don’t even like the song, which speaks to how good it looks.

The Twitters


Like everyone else, we love our social networking, particularly twitter. Whether showcasing a new piece, complaining about a deadline, or mostly (and preferably) simple irreverence, we illustrators love us some twitter. Here are some of our favorite chatty illustrators (aka, twitterstrators) from 2009: @jenniferdaniel, @TheHeadsofState, @dirtbagg, @uberkraaft.


(credit: Jez Burrows)

Working in the vacuum of freelance illustration, we all need something to listen to. While music is constantly in rotation, if you ask illustrators about podcasts, someone will always pop up and ask, ‘ooh, do you listen to Radiolab!?’ Heck, they even had a series of posters made for them.



Trends for online portfolios come and go, and this year we have seen the rise of two services allowing illustrators to post their work online with a familiar look. Some of us love the tech, some of us hate it, but there sure are a lot of us using indexhibit and cargo.

New Yorker Cover

(credit: Jorge Colombo)

One of the more entertaining discussions in the illustration world this year was over the New Yorker covers by Jorge Colombo using only his iphone, his finger, and the brushes app. Are they inspired drawings from real life? Technical masterpieces? IPhone overload? Was the New Yorker giving all its reader the finger? The debate was most entertaining.

Happy New Year everyone.



Alex Eben Meyer is a freelance illustrator living, doodling, and working in Brooklyn, NY. As Editor of Fuel Your Illustration, Alex sketches out the world of illustration for your consumption. illustration / sketchblog / twitter


If you liked this article, please help spread the news on the following sites:

  • Bump It
  • Blend It
  • Bookmark on Delicious
  • Stumble It
  • Float This
  • Reddit This
  • Share on FriendFeed
  • Clip to Evernote