Visions 2021__Illustrators Book is as stylized as its title. An artists’ catalog, alpha by author, showcase of contemporary art. 170 artists, 340 pages, 700+ illustrations. Multinational, as many aesthetics as there are scenes styles or interests. A large slice of Visions 2021 is manga girls doing manga things. Walking the dog at dusk, riding a cyber/steampunk witch’s broom to work through the metropolis, wearing immodest outfits and hanging out in large groups. Some of it is figure study character study, while some artists just do magnificent environments with people barely in them at all. Some do stylized retro work that looks like American public television children’s programming, not remotely like mainstream manga at all. Some of the work captures a moment in time, the story you get in a found photograph, a panel from a comic that doesn’t otherwise exist.
The beauty of the anthology is there is something for everyone. I also feel like combining a bunch of different art styles helps make what stands out to you stand out more, like listening to an album where the song hits better not just because its goes hard but because the song before it set a mood that enhanced the contrast. With every kind of approach from blocky chunky flat line art to (science fiction) photorealism, every reader has their thing and gets the same blissful moment when it comes up in the mix.
Not to knock the mix! That said, Visions 2021 an incredible resource on top of being full of well-curated, deeply pleasing artwork. Discover artists that are new, doing the things you like in ways you haven’t seen before, doing stuff you didn’t know you liked until you saw it. Inspiration for artists who are still learning their craft (re: all of us), how can I do something as elegant as what they did is a way more practical place to start working from than the blank slate of how do I do this at all. How many industry people are constantly searching for bespoke collaborators?
Discovery is, across the board, the point. Yen Press printed the English edition I have, originally curated and constructed by pixiv, an illustration social media crossover website that hosts all the artists in the book (and also everyone else who registers and posts), and published in Japan by KADOKAWA. The idea is to get you to the creators who are making the art you need.
Finding your groove when it’s part of a book this size with its style guide set to random, however, can be daunting. Depending on your threshold for cheesecake pictures and exposed midriffs. None of the groups in this preview are officially art scenes or styles or genres — the only collective is pixiv, and the difference between a quiet moment and an impossible one is something I made up. But like I said, this book is a resource, one where a mood can hit you, to see a place no one can ever go, and you can actually find it somewhere inside the binding. In the spirit of odd cravings and new discoveries, check out an assortment of art featured in Visions 2021 below, chosen by appeal and grouped by feel.
Character studies that run the gamut from physically to mentally provocative, sometimes both.
Landscapes all about the atmosphere, if there’s someone in the picture they’re mostly there for scale.
Artists whose body of work are a self-contained universe apart from the rest of the world.
Artists whose style is more reminiscent of the American or European small press imprint.
MOMENTS – QUIET
What makes this neither pinup nor place? Exactly.
MOMENTS – IMPOSSIBLE
The same, but bigger.
Visions 2021__Illustrators Book
Edited by Takashi Wakatsuki, Aoi Takahashi, kreis_netz, and Susumu Takaseki.
Translated by Alice Prowse
Lettered by Abigail Blackman
Supervised by pixiv
Published by Yen Press