10 UK Illustration Graduates to Watch in 2023

Congratulations to this year’s illustration graduates!

The AOI work very closely with universities around the UK and beyond to help support illustration students during their studies and into their freelance careers. Over the past few years we’ve seen new illustrators and students overcome plenty of challenges, and witnessed so much resilience and resourcefulness.

Every summer is always an exciting time to celebrate and champion new illustrators. In this feature, the AOI are celebrating 10 inspiring up-and-coming illustrators who captured our attention.

From printmaking and ceramics to animation, to games – 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. 

Klara Gryglicka, Cambridge School of Art (ARU)

Klara Gryglicka is an illustrator from Warsaw, Poland, who is currently based in the UK and recently graduated from Cambridge School of Art with a BA in Illustration.

Klara enjoys experimenting with media and working across several areas of illustration, including product packaging, publishing & editorial. Her work ranges from digital illustration and design to printmaking, gouache and ceramics, with colour and atmosphere often playing a central role her work.



Daisy Whittle, Edinburgh College of Art

Energetic and vibrant, Daisy’s practice centres around portraying narratives from everyday life through a playful lens. She cares about creating humour filled illustrations that are rich in texture and colour. Because of this, she has found that mixing a wide range of analogue and digital media is central to developing her lively style. Printmaking has become central to her process, in particular screen-printing and risograph. It makes her so excited trying to figure out the best way to layer ink, shape and wobbly line to create a tactile piece of storytelling.

She is passionate about tackling themes of grief, memory and place, female empowerment, and the climate crisis. It is her light-hearted approach that ties together these topics, and so the message at the core of all her work tends to be a positive one. Moving forwards, she hopes to continue to use her practice to tell stories that deserve to have a light shone on them – no matter how big or small they may be.



Zofia Chamienia, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design (DJCAD)

Zofia is a Polish illustrator based in Scotland, who specializes in bold, playful designs, full of incidental shapes, wobbly lines, and self-made textures. Her work is created by mixing drawing, printmaking, and digital techniques. She draws inspiration from ordinary, day-to-day happenings. Zofia’s illustrations always aim to feature a diverse range of people, places, communities, and cultures, which celebrates the different characters and personalities she meets when in the gathering stages.

Zofia has a deep desire to change the world one small step at a time by creating visual statements that carry an optimistic message, always intending to make everyone feel included and seen. She believes that illustrations can make the world more inclusive, welcoming, and easier to understand. 



Puja Varia, Liverpool John Moores

Puja Varia is a recent graduate from Liverpool John moores with a degree in Graphic Design and Illustration. She primarily focuses on collage making and creates scenes made solely by cutting up paper and sticking it back together to create objects you’ll recognise. She enjoys exploring topics that she is fond and familiar with. Going forward she hopes to continue this and explore more topics close to her heart. 



Raffaele Baldo/Ike, Nottingham Trent University

Ike is a creative mischief-maker and illustrator. They love everything wobbly, weird, silly and queer.

Their work explores playfulness with analogue media to create wonky visuals and characters, who will go on to live anywhere there is trouble to make. From nudity to nature, from queerness to human emotion, sexuality and community, they draw, make, paint, sculpt, animate to make this silly world a little bit funnier and kinder.



Davinia Clarke, London College of Communication

London-based artist Davinia Clarke’s practice is driven by ethnography and social science through the documentation of intimate relationships in her work. Her work aims to encourage creativity, empower and educate herself and others.

She specialises in creating digital figurative paintings and currently screen-printing with a focal on colours. There will be moments that digital and analogue methods collide in her practice to capture the essence of the world around her in a vibrant way.

Clarke aims to develop her practice across different industry for educational content, editorial, publishing, surface design, exhibitions and site specifics illustrations. 



Lauren Cory, Kingston University

Lauren is a Scottish illustrator who is interested in using colour and analogue materials to create dream-like familiar worlds. Her current work focusses on identity and landscapes, with inspiration from video games, the Scottish scenery and abstract paintings.



Forest Xiao, Cambridge School of Art (ARU)

Forest Xiao is an image maker, storyteller, treasure finder, and new mother. She has lived in China, Germany, USA, UK, and Malaysia, which nourished her open heart and free spirit. She loves connecting with people and hearing stories. Forest likes to invite happy colours, talking lines, and childlike shapes onto paper. She aspires to create works that are life-giving, convey a sense of wonder and spark humour. 

Forest obtained a BA in Graphic Design at Camberwell College of Art which led her to children’s publishing. Then she found a sweet community on the MA in Children’s Book Illustration at Cambridge School of Art. Graduating in 2023, Forest was a runner-up for the Sebastian Walker Prize 2023, highly commended by the 2022 Macmillan Prize for Children’s Picture Book Illustration, and shortlisted for the Batsford Prize 2023. Forest was also one of the 2023 Bologna Illustrators Exhibition Winners.



Soyoon Jeong, Camberwell College of Arts

Soyoon is a South Korean illustrator/image maker based in London, focusing her practice as a visual narrator in various fields. Soyoon’s work explores themes of existentialism, intimacy and identity which are the foundations of her projects – merging unearthly transfigurations with lived experiences and dreamy figures. Soyoon has recently worked on a series of publications; ‘Tempo’ as well as having worked on multiple projects within the fields of graphic illustration and surface design.



Jackie Wong, Falmouth University

Jackie Wong is a graduating BA Illustration student from Falmouth University. She is interested in illustrating non-fiction topics, such as science and history, and narratives in the form of comics. She has a fun and playful visual language and is keen on interactive learning, from games and puzzles to pop-up books.



We can’t wait to see what this new generation of bold, versatile creatives will do next. We’d like to say a huge congratulations, not only to our 10 illustrators featured here, but to everyone starting out this year.

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!

Check out our previous Graduates to Watch features here and here. Also make sure to read their tips and insights for new illustrators!

13th July 2023

World Illustration Awards 2023 – celebrating global illustration!
Be part of #WIA2023 - a global celebration of great illustration.
Issue 42 and Back issues available!
Contacts (across 3 sectors) for 350+ UK Commissioners... BUY NOW!
Get seen by commissioners with a 20 image Folio.


Join our mailing list to get the latest news.