7 Top Illustrators in Los Angeles

Los Angeles illustrators aren’t too difficult to find, being in the second largest city in the country. What we didn’t expect is how easy it is to find so many good ones. And covering so many different styles and niches. Here are seven of them you should definitely check out for your wordpreneur needs, but we are absolutely positive we’ve barely tapped the city’s incredible pool of professional artistic talent.

If Megan Roy’s illustrations look familiar, as they did to us, looking at her client list will probably explain why. Big names and brands. Chronicle Books, Cosmopolitan, Hershey’s, Facebook, and the list goes on (you may have even seen her stuff on products like cell phone cases!). Her work is all-digital, not that it really matters except in a practical sense, but the old school in us is delighted with really good hand-drawn digital creations instead of the all too common special effects and tech wizardry far too many rely upon instead of raw skill. Roy’s simple, cute, and quirky style will work brilliantly whatever the medium to boot! It was absolutely a pleasure exploring her work on Instagram and her website.

Beah Tolentino says she does digital doodles, lettering, and calligraphy. But those generic labels don’t quite impart what you’ll need to see with your own eyes: some of the most adorable and versatile little illustrations suitable for a lot of different uses. Combining her doodles, hand-lettering, and graphics skills, Tolentino’s illustrations do really well on products—she actually has a nice little Etsy enterprise going featuring her work on stickers, prints, and clothing. If you sense a strong kawaii influence on her style, you aren’t wrong, and she packages it expertly with her lettering, color choices, and layouts. You don’t really have to think too hard to figure out how to put her talent to work for you—just browse through her website and Instagram portfolios, and you’ll no doubt end up with tons of creative and practical ideas.

Illustrating and creating art for blogs, books, magazines, greeting cards and stationery is Cynthia Jacquette’s professional reason for being… oh, and creating maps for cultural institutions too, a somewhat unusual and, frankly, intriguing niche we haven’t really seen represented much among Los Angeles illustrators. Jacquette’s playful style is a positive, and often upbeat fit for many projects; when combined with her preference for softer colors, the effect is friendly, nice, and innocent fun. Cute and detailed too, her work’s very well suited for smaller use, like the aforementioned cards and stationery.

But that doesn’t mean she should be limited to working on small stuff. Her art’s look and feel carries over extremely well to her maps, for example, which you definitely should check out (on her website). These maps and guides are perfect as posters, and most definitely wall-worthy. We’re very duly impressed with Jacquette!

You can often see the brushstrokes in many of illustrator and graphic designer Cailee Corbett’s creations, so there’s no mystery that she favors the more traditional handmade look with her digital art. But boy is she good at it! Unlike obvious software filtering jobs we commonly see, there’s no easy way to tell hers are digital works if she didn’t tag them as such. Even the illustrations themselves fit very well with the stylistic effect, giving viewers thoroughly natural classic visuals.

It should come as no surprise then that she does actually have extensive experience hand painting watercolors, oils, acrylics, and working with other traditional mediums. Her digital work looks and feels traditional because she really is a traditional artist at heart, regardless of what tools she’s actually using! Corbett just shows us that software really can’t quite fake real talent. 

Speaking of hand-drawn illustrations, here’s the real thing. Specializing in ink, watercolor, and live fashion sketching, Kelly Maryanski’s illustrations have been featured in numerous shows and venues, big and small. And we can see why: her pen-and-ink sketches are simply amazing! Apparently, she can whip these out fairly rapidly—she hires herself out to do these on-site for events. Not that that’s all that uncommon (although observably a rarity among top Los Angeles illustrators), but what makes one pause is seeing the extraordinary quality of her quick sketches. As if her raw black-and-whites aren’t impressive enough, when she colors them in with watercolors, prepare to be bowled right over. Although she indicates that sketching fashion is what really “feeds [her] soul,” Maryanski’s portfolios show that she can handle and sketch pretty much anything.

With her very distinctive style, anyone familiar with Paley Jean Martin’s illustrations (predominantly of women) will have no difficulty sensing her work when they see it. The women she draws are typically very curvy, and that’s in the undulating sense, not necessarily the Rubenesque connection we’ve come to use “curvy” to mean today. And the effect is unusual, intriguing, eye-catching, and beautiful. Usually presented in vibrant colors and minimalist compositions, among the work of her peer Los Angeles illustrators, Martin’s is truly one of the few that can brag a style that is uniquely her  own.

It’s illustrator and surface designer Marci Chorpash’s artwork for children’s books that’s got us turned on. And we almost never got to experience them! For twenty years, Chorpash took the straight and “responsible” corporate job career path, where she says she spent much of her time “in a cubicle drawing colorful doodles and portraits all over my meeting notes.” Then a layoff happened, and she made the jump. And we’re glad she did!

Although much if not all of her current projects revolve around digital stuff, it’s clearly evident Chorpash has spent a lot of time fiddling around and developing her skills and sensibilities traditionally. It just shows. Her style, in particular, all seem to exhibit a subtle warm and neutral tone, all adding to the palpable positivity and delightful innocence that can’t help but pop out. We eagerly look forward to seeing a lot more of Chorpash’s work!