A wonderful thread and one I'm more than happy to subscribe to!
I'll list a few of my favorite living artists and two dead guys. I'll also prattle on a little bit about what they mean to me, coz, well. Art.
The reason for mainly listing living artists is that they're around to learn from in a very different way to the old masters and the artists of antiquity. Almost all of those listed here are open to sharing their techniques, thoughts and inspirations in the goal of helping others become better artists. While we can certainly learn staggering amounts from long departed artists it's only when we engage in a dialogue with and push ourselves against our contemporaries that we truly come into our own.Charles Sargent Jagger
- A brilliant sculptor best known for his world war one memorial works around the world. His art-deco reliefs are fantastic and really capture the feeling of the age, but the humanity and personality he brought to the figures on his memorials is what truly stands out for me. The fact that he managed to bring personality and mortality to those works against the intentions of the establishment who commissioned them is an extra feather in his cap. There's no chance I could ever afford to have one of his pieces with his maquettes going for £95,000+. No-one makes reproductions of his work (perhaps unsurprisingly) and while I could opt to get my photogrammetry on the idea of doing that to a war memorial causes me mild moral confusion.Nic Fiddian-Green
- Simply a fantastic sculptor of horses. The sheer horseyness of his work
appeals to the very core of me. I grew up as a quasi disenfranchised inner city youth, but horses have always had a strangely irresistible pull for me (I ran off and joined the circus for a bit, riding horses. Fun times) and while I can no longer afford to work with or own a heavily muscled potato-brained smelly danger-beast I can at least appreciate them in art. He's pretty much the high-master of horse sculpture and that's no mean feat.Paul Bonner
- Alright, it's not his website coz he done gone let the domain lapse and I won't link to Facebook (alright, I lied
). But if that link doesn't work then just go check out a google image search
. Bonner does great creatures, has a wonderful eye for fantasy anatomy and characterisation. With his work for many game companies across the years he has no doubt fired the imaginations of a great many people. Plus he's a nice guy! Winner!Sophie Ryder
- A cracking sculptress who does some very wonderful work in a variety of mediums. Her traditional sculpts are great (and there's a few I'd love miniatures of) but it's her wire drawings and wire sculptures that have the most impact in person. Shigeru Ban
- Alright, an architect not an artist. But honestly, they share shelf space in many libraries and book shops so we'll let it slide. Shigeru's work was a major inspiration when I decided to go study architecture and he continues to be just damnably great at what he does. Light, playful and respectful. Greatness.Chris Foss
- An airbrush god whose spaceships and scenes jump off the page and pretty much came to define the look of Sci-Fi for many many people over decades. Back in my callow youth his work made me want to get an airbrush and learn to use it, as an adult he's still producing work that makes me want to buy an airbrush and learn to use it. There may be many pretenders to the crown, but Chris Foss remains the king of the spaceships.Syd Mead
- Another of the great airbrush deities who, much like Chris Foss, has defined the futuristic look for generations and inspired a great many people. If Foss is the king of spaceships, Mead is the king of the lifestyle. His street scenes and human scale works are simply fantastic and often speak of a slickly hopeful, positive view of the future that recent years and societies current obsession with dystopias and apocalyptic scenarios seems to have sadly forgotten. James Gurney
- If you haven't read the Dinotopia books then stop reading this and go buy them. Most of them have been expanded and reprinted as 20th anniversary editions so there's really no reason not to splash out. Dinosaurs living in harmony with people in a veritable utopia (which includes all sorts of great technology), what's not to like?. Look, just go buy it. His two art theory books are also cracking and are highly recommended reading, as is his linked blog which is updated daily with thoughts, tutorials and articles on a wide selection of artists and styles. Victor Ambrus
- Probably best known to the UK audiences for his visualization work on Time Team, bringing the past to life with a flurry of pastels and a wonderful style, his loose chaotic work as always reminded me a bit of Rackham, but with much bolder colours. Hugo Pratt
- The other dead guy in the list, Pratt was a fantastic artist who worked in a wide range of mediums. Most famous for his Corto Maltese stories he's known widely through mainland Europe. Pratt's art is sublime and his watercolours were one of the main reasons I started practicing that medium. If you come across his comics or any of the coffee table art books they're well worth adding to your collection, a well thumbed copy of his watercolours book is one of the key players in my art shelf.Ashley Wood
- (site possibly NSFW) I originally got pulled into Ashley Woods stuff by his Lore series with TP Louise, then onto the various paintings that make up the World War Robot series. I love his oils and marker work, it's all loose and lovely with each stroke having a use. But, I'll be honest in that his relentless focus on nudes and sexeh scenes has bored me and turned me off his work to some degree. Still love the monsters and robots though and flicking through his art books always leaves me wishing I had the time to really get to grip with oils as a medium.
Anyway, I could prattle on all day so I'll leave it there for now!