10 UK Illustration Graduates to Watch in 2021


Congratulations to this year’s illustration graduates!

Here at the AOI we work closely with universities all around the UK, and we have been in awe of the playful, thoughtful and powerful work that this year’s graduates have produced. We have seen these young illustrators overcome plenty of challenges, demonstrating their incredible perseverance and undeniable talent. 

We love degree show season (whether virtual or physical), because it gives us an insight into what the next generation of illustrators will bring to the table. In this feature, the AOI are celebrating 10 inspiring up-an-coming illustrators, who captured our attention.

From printmaking, to animation, to site specific projects – each of these graduates is forging their own path into the illustration industry, and it’s a joy to watch! Make sure to check out their individual portfolios below. 


Daniel Converio, Falmouth University

Daniel Converio

Daniel Converio is a recent graduate from Falmouth University, where he moved from Rome to study. His focus is around human figures and storytelling – a left-over from two years of training to be an animation concept artist. Since 2019 he’s been exploring ways to translate elements of traditional print in his digital illustrations.




Ekaterina Sheath, Leeds Arts University

Ekaterina Sheath is a recent graduate from Leeds Arts University. History, location and community are constant sources of inspiration in her work. Through on-location drawing and research, she shares hidden stories and transforms local spaces into cultural assets. A core value is representation: celebrating diversity and equality. Ekaterina seeks to continue working with social organisations to produce engaging and educational illustrations.




James Welton, Cambridge School of Art

James Welton

Recently graduating from Cambridge School of Art, James Welton is a Suffolk-based maker and illustrator with a love for creating in three dimensions and using objects and spaces to convey narratives and big ideas. Going forward James would like to do more work with an editorial and conceptual focus and explore more ways to create sculptural work.




Ziyoo Hwang, Royal College of Art 

Ziyoo Hwang

Ziyoo is an illustrator and animator based in London, recently graduated from the Royal College of Art. She interweaves the real and the fictional to create narratives. In her final year, she visualised the nebulous fog based on Mark Fisher’s idea of widespread anxiety and depression in our society caused by capitalism. 




Lydia Hignett, Sheffield Hallam University

Lydia Hignett a.k.a Intangible Objects is an illustrator from Liverpool, recently graduated from Sheffield Hallam University. She creates charmingly chunky characters and nostalgic urban scenes. Her work is heavily inspired by Hip-Hop culture, infusing her illustrations with soulful character and the unapologetic visual attitude of street art.




Gracie Dahl, Camberwell College of Arts

Gracie Dahl

Gracie Dahl is an illustrator from South London who likes making things, a lot. Her work uses bright colour and elements of outline, informed by her love of mid-century illustration, and explores the curious world of being a human – how we interact, move, and express ourselves. She studied at Camberwell College of Arts, UAL and is now looking forward to working as a freelance illustrator.




Lauren Fletcher, Arts University Bournemouth

Laura Fletcher 

Lauren Fletcher is a recent Arts University Bournemouth graduate. Her work combines traditional styles such as collage and sketching with digital media, focusing on human figures with impressionist imagery. She enjoys creating cohesive colourful pieces with a strong aesthetic and is strongly influenced by social matters and current trends in fashion, beauty and pop culture. 




Dylan Woodall, Manchester School of Art

Dylan Woodall

Dylan Woodall – or deedoubleyoo – is a recent Illustration with Animation graduate from Manchester School of Art. His work aims to capture the subtle narratives which can be found in our day-to-day. He is particularly intrigued by the imperfections found when using printing methods such as Risography. Going forward, he intends to explore the ways his work can operate in different physical and digital realms.




Sammi Duong, Edinburgh College of Art

Sammi Duong

Sammi Duong is an illustrator and animator who is a recent graduate from the University of Edinburgh. Her interests lie in digital illustration, authentic character design and impactful storytelling through 2D animation. She likes to create dynamic, stylish, and earnest visual narratives to explore topics that are close to her heart, such as Chinese culture and her personal experiences with anxiety.




Ellie Lonsdale, Falmouth University

Ellie Lonsdale

Ellie Lonsdale is an illustrator from Bath, who recently graduated from Falmouth University. She is an avid sketchbook user and her work is largely informed by her observations in nature. Ellie’s illustrations are conceptually grounded, with an aim to capture light, atmosphere and a sense of place. Going forwards, she hopes to work for strong social and environmental causes that reflect her passion for people and nature. 




We can’t wait to see what this new generation of bold, versatile creatives will do next. If you are interested in commissioning any of these talented graduates for an upcoming project, we recommend you reach out!


The AOI supports Illustrators at every stage of their career with resources, advice, events, and much more. Whether you need help navigating your first commissions, or you want to belong to a thriving community – Find out more about AOI membership today!

23rd July 2021

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