27 Artists Reveal Who Inspires Their Work

We recently published an art book, Tomorrow’s Talent Vol. II (available in our shop), which features the work of 60 fine artists and illustrators we’re excited about right now. We thought it would be fun to ask a bunch of them to share their inspirations—specifically, the artists that directly influenced the works we included in the book. Hopefully this list leads you to some art you’ve never seen before. Enjoy!

Alex Garant

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

“As a young artist, I was obsessed with Study after Velazquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X. The way the artist created a distortion based on classical traditional portraiture was truly groundbreaking. The movement and illusion Bacon was able to display inspired me to pursue my own quest for analog vibration and dynamism.”

Inspirations: Francis Bacon

Alex Wilby

Location: Margate, UK

“Thomas Fluharty’s value control is just incredible and always a source of inspiration. Sainer is a beast! His drawings and paintings are a masterclass in shape design.”

Inspirations: Thomas Fluharty, Sainer

Arushi Kathuria

Location: Mumbai, India

“Ariel Davis — Love their bold use of colour and the ethereal nature of their work. Oda Iselin Sønderland — I really enjoy the dark, mysterious nature of their work and how they handle the medium so effortlessly.”

Inspirations: Ariel Davis, Oda Iselin Sønderland

Carlo Alberto Rastelli

Location: Parma, Italy

“My recent artworks start from a very simple idea: moving my paintings from a neutral, smooth surfice (like canvas) to a textured one, like raw fir wood. I thought I was the first, until I discovered the works of the Finnish master Robert Lucander on a catalogue: his amazing artworks taught me how to superimpose colored backgrounds onto the texture of wood. What inspired me about John Currin’s art is the way he describes the modern society through the eyes of a Flemish artist of the XV century. His artworks create an amazing short circuit of past and present. Andrea Mastrovito, I think he’s one of the best and most talented Italian artist of our time. I love the ironic way he experiments different and unconventional materials, like paper origami, inlaid wood, and plastic rulers. His artworks represent that perfect balance between figurative painting and conceptual art I’m aiming too.”

Inspirations: Robert Lucander, John Currin, Andrea Mastrovito


Location: Evansville, Indiana, USA

“Hillary Pecis — Love her interior design scenes. David Hockney — I love David’s bright energy he expresses through his work. I try to give off the same energy. Jonas Wood — His pots and plants have inspired my work in many ways.”

Inspirations: Hilary Pecis, David Hockney, Jonas Wood

Diego de la Rosa

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

“I’ve always admired Keita Morimoto’s sense of light and use of color. He is so good at it that he can make very mundane scenes look epic and grand. To this day, I am still amazed at James Jean’s capacity to depict very surreal and bizarre images with extreme delicacy and elegance.”

Inspirations: Keita Morimoto, James Jean

Jazz Szu-Ying Chen

Location: New Taipei City, Taiwan

“Honoré Fragonard (anatomist) — Not necessarily your usual fine artist but his anatomical ecorches are long term inspirations to my work, the flayed details are almost botanical and lead like, almost reminiscent of Baroque ornamental filigrees. Makoto Aida — If there’s an artist that could combine vulgarity with sublime beauty, it’s this guy! My favorite piece of his is “Harakiri Girls”. Aaron Horkey — I am always in awe with his monochromatic ornamental work! his figurative depictions and crazily detailed accuracy is something I try to study and learn from.”

Inspirations: Honoré Fragonard, Makoto Aida, Aaron Horkey

Jesse Howard

Location: Oak Park, Illinois, USA

“Dumile Feni – his drawings are creative and have their own undeniable vocabulary. Richard Hunt – his lines and form create electrifying harmony in his lithographs.”

Inspirations: Dumile Feni, Richard Hunt

Kaela Han

Location: San Francisco, California, USA

“Ozabu: I am always awe-struck by the meticulous linework and incredibly smooth, gentle shading in her graphite renderings — the artistry of her work brings such a unique color to each piece. Tom Kemp: There is such an organic and simplistic beauty in the way Kemp uses a singular brushstroke to mark his porcelain vessels. Henrik Uldalen: I am inspired and drawn to Uldalen’s pieces for their ethereal, otherworldly qualities; the way he manifests juxtaposing themes of darkness and beauty creates images that are deeply moving and yet unsettling.”

Inspirations: Ozabu, Tom Kemp, Henrik Uldalen

Luis Mendo

Location: Tokyo, Japan

“Gizem Vural — She always surprises me with new directions and turns in her work. Love the dynamism of her illustrations where everything seems to dance. Mikey Yates — The light comes off Mikey’s work. I love how he makes mundane scenes look so beautiful and heartfelt. Mai Ta — Wonderful flat surfaces, carefully painted to create volume. Mai achieves with mostly flatten colors what all vector illustrations could be achieving, but don’t. Her diptychs are magical too.”

Inspirations: Gizem Vural, Mikey Yates, Mai Ta

Kyla Zoe Rafert

Location: Amanda, Ohio, USA

“All 3 of these artists, together pull on a variety of factors at play in my own work: History, myth, and animals as metaphor. Esther Sarto’s bizarre but direct depictions of animals and humans have an uncanny emotional resonance that’s hard to miss. Claire Partington pulls heavily from art history, and myth to recreate intricate and decorative allegorical ceramic figurines, in a fabulous mashup of past and present. Thomas Jorion photographs centuries-old once lavish, but now abandoned interiors, mostly in Europe, they are expertly composed, beautiful, and poignant.”

Inspirations: Esther Sarto, Claire Partington, Thomas Jorion

Mackenzie Hyde

Location: New York, USA

“Ebecho Muslimova — The range of situations Ebecho creates around one central character is brilliant and enveloping. Janiva Ellis — No one has translated the cartoon realm into fine art as successfully as Janiva Ellis in my opinion, the paintings feel completely authentic yet still nostalgic. Kerry James Marshall — ‘A Portrait of the Artist as a Shadow of His Former Self’ is still the best painting I’ve ever seen and I think the level set forth by that painting is something that every artist should strive for, no matter how hard it is to achieve a work that great.”

Inspirations: Ebecho Muslimova, Janiva Ellis, Kerry James Marshall

Manuel Zamudio

Location: McAllen, Texas, USA

“Stephanie Buer —Her realistic landscapes and her use of graffiti as a storytelling tool has been very inspiring. Nicola Cerdda — His use of vibrant colors and apocalyptic themes not to mention his technical abilities have been a huge inspiration. Veronica Jager — Her playful characters and her use of esoteric symbols which she uses to tell her stories are amazing.”

Inspirations: Stephanie Buer, Nicola Cerdda, Veronica Jager

Mike Brown

Location: Decatur, Georgia, USA

“Inka Essenhigh is an absolute master of composition and lighting. Her early work 1998-2000 is sublime. She has a way to make you think you know what you are looking at but then you realize you have no idea forcing you to reevaluate your relationship to the work. Brilliant. Christian Rex Van Minnen is a master of surface illusion and balancing things that are the most alluring with the grotesque. Eric White is brilliant in his ability to edit the information in his images with the objects/subjects that he places in his compositions. He is a master at making you feel like you are getting something when upon closer inspection you realize you aren’t able to grasp what is there.”

Inspirations: Inka Essenhigh, Christian Rex Van Minnen, Eric White

Mikey Yates

Location: Boulder, Colorado, USA

“Graceina Samosir — I love her drawings technically but also how she depicts family members at meal time. My family is spread out so many times I take reference pictures of them at the dinner table when we get to visit each other. Her drawings and paintings feel homey to me. Danica Lundy — The maximalism in her paintings encourage me to do more. Aaron Gilbert — The honesty and love in his work are moving.”

Inspirations: Graceina Samosir, Danica Lundy, Aaron Gilbert

Nate Burbeck

Location: Minneapolis, USA

“The area I photographed and used as a reference for my painting was originally found in Adam Neese’s series “A Known World”, which includes various images of landscapes near his childhood home in Grapevine, Texas.”

Inspirations: Adam Neese


Location: Brooklyn, New York, USA

“Forever inspired by Masao Saito’s mastery of hyper-realism that specifically exists with graphic restraint and balance. Always impressed with Braulio Amado’s use of shape and color in ways that all at once feel expressive and complete, but never over-labored! (How!)”

Inspirations: Masao Saito, Braulio Amado

Niklas Asker

Location: Malmö, Sweden

“French sculptor Auguste Rodin was one of the first western artists to put personal expression over form, moving away from the realistic classicism and into what later became modern art. His relationship to the figure has inspired me immensely. Nicola Samori is one of the first examples (there’s many now) I came across of a contemporary artist drawing heavily from the history of older painting and sculpture and then adding his own very distinct touch. Victor Man connects the history of painting beautifully with contemporary subjects, resulting in images that are intriguing explorations of the subconscious.”

Inspirations: Auguste Rodin, Nicola Samori, Victor Man

Olivia Di Gregorio

Location: Toronto, Canada

“When I look to the past, I look at Thomas Lawrence’s work; making myself a student of his brushwork and his methods for approaching romantic backgrounds. When I think of scenes and woodland landscapes I place my characters within, lately I’ve been drawn to the work of Ray Caesar and the glowing magical effects he employs; contrasting mysteriously dark imagery whilst maintaining a soft appearance. I feel similarly about Martin Wittfooth, especially when I feel a painting required a destructive narrative; taking inspiration from his use of fiery effects demolishing environments.”

Inspirations: Martin Wittfooth, Ray Caesar, Thomas Lawrence

Peter Chan

Location: Toronto, Canada

“For the last few years, I’ve always looked to Diego Velazquez’s work as a source of inspiration when it comes to composition and his ability to portray figuration and still life. I love classic Hong Kong films and certainly Wong Kar Wai is another that hits home for me, the visuals really create a strong mood in support of the storytelling in his films. Finally, I also look to Martin Wong, one of the few asian-american painters in the art world who is just a genius in designing imagery with impactful symbolism, as well as blending social realism in his work.”

Inspirations: Diego Velasquez, Martin Wong, Wong Kar Wai

Preslav Kostov

Location: London, UK

“The artists that inspired me for the work have to be Nicolas Uribe, Euan Uglow and Lucian Freud. All artists who observe their immediate environment and sitters with exquisite attention to detail. Uribe — His ability to curate small moments of his daily life and his family fascinates me. Uglow — His ability to observe and distill an image down to its absolute essence without making the painting an act of reductionism. Freud — His ability to charge his paintings with the character of his subject.”

Inspirations: Nicolas Uribe, Euan Uglow, Lucian Freud

Ray Cicin

Location: Toronto, Canada

“One of my favourites is Paco Pomet — A painter who references turn-of-the-century photography with a surreal cultural twist. A loose painting style emphasizing light and shadow. Marie-laure Cruschi — An illustrator and graphic designer, her landscapes are powerful graphic compositions full of dynamic colour. Ron Ven Der Ende — Works with reclaimed wood and weathered recycled materials. Creating large relief sculptures of modern iconic objects.”

Inspirations: Paco Pomet, Marie-laure Cruschi, Ron Ven Der Ende

Sheida Shekarian

Location: Toronto, Canada

“Paul Noble’s ability to invent the most intriguing cities and landscapes opened a path of possibilities in my own work when dealing with form and structure. Edward Gorey — My interest in depicting scenes that tell a story stemmed from Edward Gorey’s dark yet humorous visual narratives. AEC Interesni Kazki (Aleksei Bordusov) — I’m always drawing inspiration from artists like Kazki whose use of colour creates an incredible sense of mood and atmosphere.”

Inspirations: Paul Noble, Edward Gorey, AEC Interesni Kazki

Spime (Bernice Liu)

Location: Hong Kong

“Leonara Carrington’s work along with surrealist artists like Helen Lundeberg or Kay Sage redefines female symbolism in art, her exploration of the dream world and the symbolic connections to reality through her own cultural experience is crucial to the decades of female artists to come. Katsushika Ōi’s ‘Night Scene in Yoshiwara’ is my favourite ukiyo-e woodblock print, from the contrast to the sense of space to the dark colors…all elements combined make it the most unforgettable piece. “

Inspirations: Leonora Carrington, Katsushika Ōi

Stefano Summo

Location: Milan, Italy

“Ferenc Pinter is probably my greatest influence. His pictorial ability, superb composition skills and graphic synthesis are just unreal to me. Tadanori Yokoo — I’m a great fan of Japanese illustration / graphic design and Tadanori is my favourite no doubt. His works are so iconic, I find his 60s and 70s collage work very inspirational. Tomer Hanuka — I have to pick a contemporary illustrator to close the list and Tomer’s work has surely been the most impactful for the evolution of my style. I find that his illustrations really stand out, maybe for the uneasy colour palette, complex compositions and the comic influenced style.”

Inspirations: Ferenc Pinter, Tadanori Yokoo, Tomer Hanuka

Uli Knörzer

Location: Berlin, Germany

“As far as inspiration goes I’d say the work of Barkley L Hendricks:  It’s the usage and treatment of colour in his paintings as well as the staging of his subjects. And of course the dj sets of Authentically Plastic a Ugandan dj and friend of mine (he’s the one in the striped shirt). They set the right mood.”

Inspirations: Barkley L Hendricks, Authentically Plastic

Vicki Ling

Location: New Orleans, USA

“René Magritte — The playfulness and surrealism of everyday objects. Florine Stettheimer — The vibrant color palette and the floral scenes. Lee JinJu — The level of details and the tension among the subjects in her paintings.”

Inspirations: René Magritte, Florine Stettheimer, Lee JinJu

Yadi Liu

Location: New York, USA

“I love Al Held’s vibrant color palette and bold geometric lines. The way he freely expresses his art has a massive influence on my abstract figures.”

Inspirations: Al Held

Tomorrow’s Talent Vol. II is available in our shop while supplies last. 128 pages, 60 artists, perfect bound and printed in the Netherlands.

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