WIA2021: Longlist Highlights from the Professional Exploration Category

This category celebrates the importance of experimentation through portfolio work and self initiated projects. The exploration category encourages a huge range of illustration designed to innovate both conceptually and aesthetically.

The World Illustration Awards 2021 Longlist features 500 projects by New Talent and Professional illustrators from all over the world across ten categories. This year, the awards celebrate great illustration! Read on to see our Professional Exploration Category Highlights – and if you’d like to learn more, click through to see the full project and contact information!

This piece was inspired by the Still Here Still Life drawing challenge on Instagram. Chloe uses a stack of shapes, which are animated to create characters through their lively movement.

Chloe Isteed is an illustrator and animator based in Essex. She has worked with clients such as London Transport Museum, Bookblock, UAL and Let’s Talk About Loss.

This work was made in quarantine, while the artist was travelling in Peru. During the quarantine, she was staying in a house, with a beautiful garden. Everyday she would sit and draw, a way of appreciating this little world, as the outer world was forbidden.

Marija Vidovic is from Belgrade, Serbia, and a graduate of the Faculty of Applied Arts in Belgrade.

This work was created for an exhibition titled People at Wallness Gallery in Bari (Italy, about about the way people live and their experiences exploring the streets. The exhibition featured illustrations in a range of media both on the walls and as posters and signs.

Nicola Laurora, aka Nico189, is an illustrator based in Milan, Italy. Selected clients include Adidas, Apple, Barilla, Fast Company, Fortune, Harvard Business Review, Ikea, Monocle, and Wired UK.

This work deals with the artist’s experience of being diagnosed with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome). The work is a personal exploration to help the artist understand the effects of PCOS and its relation to her Indian heritage.

Jyots is an artist based in North London. Being of dual heritage, she channels her ideology through symbolic scenes and identifiable cultural objects.

Crossings Richard Johnson

The image forms part of a body of work and visual investigation exploring the effects of war on refugee children, many of whom are forced into living lives separated from their families. This narrative is depicted through visually sequenced fragments of memories and collections of thought.

Richard Johnson is a UK based illustrator and a tutor on the Graphic Communication and Illustration programme at Loughborough University.

This series of hand painted and collaged illustrations were created as a love letter to the artist’s hometown. The illustrations find beauty in the simple things that others may typically pass by without a second thought.

Chelsea Ragan is an illustrator, baker and mother of two living in Black Mountain, North Carolina. She received her masters from Maryland Institute College of Art in 2012.

This painting parodies one of the most recurrent comments received by graphic artists; that they can only draw stick figures. It was created as a personal piece and posted on the site Reddit, getting a lot of attention for its humorous take on the topic. The image uses a painting by Renaissance artist Bronzino for reference, with the rest created from the artist’s imagination. The painting was made in Procreate.

CaptainPeru is a Peruvian artist currently living in Vancouver, Canada.

This illustration shows a lone character trying to escape from a series of rooms that represent various disasters that occurred in 2020, such as COVID-19, fires, floods, earthquakes etc. The character is looking for the Utopia that could be found on escape.

Simo Liu is an Illustrator based in Los Angeles, USA. She studied graphic design at Calart and animation at USC. Her clients including Illumination, Medium, The Washington Post, Harvard Business Review, Mural and many others.


This animation was inspired by the artist’s frequent trips to Walthamstow Wetlands with his partner and her child. They all found entertainment there, making life a little more comfortable during the pandemic. The colour and style of the animation reflects the nature and mood of the wetlands.

 Leon Nikoo is an Artist / Animator based in East London. His work is inspired by travel and nature. In 2019 he published a book titled People and places of South America.

This series is a creative response to Orson Welles’ film ‘The Trial’ (based on Kafka’s novel). The illustrations construct an expressive world of the ‘horrifying absurd’, which is so vividly portrayed in the film; a world in which all the horrors of the 20th century reside unnamed – totalitarianism, the absurdity of public institutions, the absence of civil rights. These works are a portfolio piece, created in traditional materials such as pencil, ink and charcoal.

Anastasia Kotikova lives in Russia. She graduated from the Moscow State University of Printing Arts in 2013 and has been a member of Moscow Artists’ Union since 2014.

If you enjoyed reading this curated list, why not explore the full WIA2021 Longlist for more inspiration!

13th August 2021

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