Give Me a Sign: Artist Research

As I wish to look into signs/ messages from the afterlife, I have attempted to gather some research of artists/ illustrators who have created work about this subject before. Unfortunately, I struggled to find the precise theme that I was looking after. Due to this, I decided the best route would be to make a compromise and instead conduct research into illustrators who have created work regarding handling loss, and grief.

Mari Andrews

Mari Andrews is a writer, artist and speaker currently living in New York.

“I’ve been a writer forever, but I became an artist when I was going through a season of grief and loss in 2016 and needed a new fun form of self-expression to lift me up.” (Andrews. M)

Mari Andrews is popular on social media with 1.1 million followers on Instagram (as of 30/01/2020). She has also published two books which she wrote and illustrated. These being ‘Am I There Yet?’ (published 2018) and ‘Getting There: A Workbook For Growing Up’ (published 2019).

Andrew’s book ‘Am I There Yet?’ went on to be a New York Times best seller.

Her instagram can be found here:

Her website is linked here:

Characteristics of Mari’s Illustrations

  • Simplistic
  • Limited colour tone
  • Lack of complicated lines
  • Child-like
  • Lack of texture
  • Message speaks for itself
  • Primarily use of words.

(Characteristics in bold are certain areas which I would like to explore in my own work).

Andrew covers vulnerable topics, such as heartbreak, grief and death by talking about resilience, strength, courage and growth.

Although simplicity allows the readers to not get too distracted from the message, I have concern that if I were to use this technique in my project, it may be too under-sold, or be too open. I’d like simplicity, but not too simple, not simple colour palette and lack of texture, I’d like to integrate at least one of those into a piece at a time, in order to not be too underwhelming for a large topic.

I would however like to try a more simplistic approach, as I believe my work has included loads of colour, texture and mark making in the past, so it would be interesting to take some of this away to reveal what my work could say for itself, without the possibility of over-working it.

Gracia Lam

Gracia Lam is an award-winning illustrator born in Hong Kong and raised in Toronto.

The works Lam has created which I have selected, deal with grief and separation. Lam has covered a broad range of topics, although most of them have been quite difficult/ vulnerable areas.


The Art Directors Club Young Guns 8, American Illustration, Society of Illustrators, 3×3 Magazine, National Magazine Awards (Gold & Silver)

Characteristics of Gracia’s Illustrations:

  • Digital art
  • Paper cutting
  • Bright colours, limited.
  • Contrast
  • Metaphorical
  • Simplistic
  • Some have low saturation images
  • Contemporary
  • Lack of words
  • Imagery speaks for itself
  • Mark making
  • Texture

Gracia’s work really emits emotion and connection. The odd concepts and colour palettes places in real world scenarios, such as sat at a table, swimming, or using a type writer makes the work believable, despite its odd characters and concept. I would like to attempt to use this technique.

Ana Ramirez Gonzalez

“Maybe tomorrow” – A book illustrated by Ana about depression and loss.

Ana Gonzalez is a Pixar visual development artist and has worked as a visual development artist on Pixar’s Oscar-winning film Coco.

Ana grew up in Guanajuato, Mexico, and lives in Oakland, California.

In Gonzalez’s book ‘Maybe Tomorrow’, she uses a metaphor to describe depression. Elba (pink animal) has a block. It’s large and very heavy and she drags it wherever she goes. The crocodile helps to carry the block for their friend, Elba. Elba says that they will always have to carry the block, but the crocodile knows and says that even if that is so, they will be there to help carry it. Maybe not all the time, but sometimes, as that is what friends do.

This story metaphor reminded me of the butterfly story regarding loss which I discussed in my previous post, which made me feel connected to the story.

Characteristics of Ana’s Illustrations

  • Bright
  • Detailed imagery in some, held back in others
  • High saturation
  • Interesting character relationships
  • Ink, watercolour and pencil
  • Texture
  • Line mark making
  • White space
  • Positive, children style.

The style Ana ramirez Gonzalez uses in her work definitely suits the younger audience, as it makes deeper topics easier to handle. This however may not be useful to me, as until I know what audience I am aiming for in my work, I will not know how to direct my style and approach to suit said audience.

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