- Lois Lenski (1893-1974): Lenski’s illustration style is solid yet sweet, incorporating heavy line and large blocks of color while still maintaining a simplicity and ease. While early on she illustrated other people’s work, she was eventually able to move into writing and illustrating her own books. She was successful in being able to show the beauty in daily things, and her books encourage children to appreciate the smaller & more basic things in life.
2. Arthur Rackham (1867-1939): In the opposite direction from Lenski’s solid portrayal of everyday life, Rackham’s work is lush and fantastical. He illustrated almost exclusively work that incorporated magical elements. His version of Alice in Wonderland is one of the most well-known, after the classic illustration set from John Tenniel. Rackham’s work is detailed and heavily textured & has depth that pulls the viewer into the scene.
3. Quentin Blake (b. 1932): Blake is a prolific artist and writer, whose body of work so far (either as author, illustrator, or both) includes 323 books. He is probably most well-known for being the illustrator of 18 of Roald Dahl’s books. His illustration style is impressive in its combination of loose, emotional line and washed out watercolor, but a perfect capturing of expression nonetheless. Blake’s art proves that a “childlike” quality can be as beautiful as tighter and less expressive work.
4. Tove Jansson (1914-2001): Jansson was a beloved Finnish artist and writer who is most well-known for her books and comic series set in fantastical “Moominland”. Her art has a classic comic style (heavy line, simple characters) but she also utilized design elements that make it very visually appealing. She constructed a world for her characters that was both magical and very real; she incorporated both darkness and light into her work for children in a way that drew in, and continues to draw in, people of all ages.
5. Maurice Sendak (1928-2012): Few lists of children’s book illustrators are complete without a mention of Maurice Sendak. One of his most defining qualities as an author and artist was that he was unafraid to push the envelope. His work for children never panders, but it maintains a curiosity that relates to a child’s view of the world. As an artist, he always stayed true to his style and it makes his work very recognizable and comforting.