11 Visual Artists Who Enlighten, Inspire and Bring the Impossible to Life

From posters and logos to theater stages and comics

Stage designer Es Devlin has created mind-bending backdrops for Beyonce, Adele and many more. Via EsDevlin.com

Whether it’s designing theater stages, logos, comics, posters or images, the visual artists in Adweek’s list display an innovation and artistry that both inspires and challenges.

Photo: Jasper Clarke

Es Devlin
Stage Designer

At the start of the Netflix documentary Abstract: The Art of Design, Es Devlin, speaking about her art, says: “Over the last two decades of working, one of the things I’ve discovered is often, things are made to fill voids.” Indeed, Devlin, known for her kinetic sculptures, has filled just about every space put in front of her.

Devlin has designed for a number of England’s major theater companies including the Royal Shakespeare Co. as well as for TV, films, operas, fashion shows and rock stars. Her elaborate stage sets have graced the concert tours of  Beyoncé, Kanye West, U2, Lady Gaga and Adele. For The Weeknd’s Starboy: Legend of the Fall tour, Devlin created a giant, luminous paper plane-type structure to hover above the stage. In 2012, she designed the Closing Ceremony of the London Olympics and the Opening Ceremony of the Rio Olympics, four years later.

Es Devlin's stage design for The Weeknd at Coachella

British-born Devlin, who originally studied music at the Royal Academy of Music as a child, has had her works exhibited in a number of solo gallery shows and installations, including the recent Mask at Somerset House in 2018, The Singing Tree (described as an audio-visual Christmas tree) at The Victoria and Albert Museum in 2017 and Room 2022 at Art Basel Miami in 2017.

Hailed by the New Yorker as “the world’s foremost stage designer,” Devlin has received three Olivier Awards for set and costume design. In 2017, she was awarded the London Design Medal and in 2015 was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE).
Katie Richards

Paul Fuentes
Artist, Photographer, Paul Fuentes Design

Juan Pablo Fuentes, known as Paul Fuentes by friends and family, is a graphic designer and content curator. He began his professional career as a junior designer at Universidad Anahuac Mexico City in 2012. Over the next four years he worked as a senior designer at Vida Anahuac Social Magazine, quitting the publication to create his own studio. Fuentes began posting images of food on Instagram just as the whole food porn was trending, earning him instant notice. His Instagram account now has 224,000 followers.

Fuentes’ playful, colorful designs attracted the attention of advertisers and brands alike. He has done work for 20th Century Fox, Dior, Swatch and Cup Noodles. “I want to make people happy,” he says. “With a sushi cat or a juicy hamburger, it’s my goal to break your boring Instagram feed and to get a smile on your face. I like to remind people how fascinating the world is by producing images of food, animals and objects. These images are minimalistic mashups with pastel backgrounds.”

Some of Paul Fuentes' creations on Instagram

Adds Fuentes: “My main inspiration is happiness and simplicity. Simple is beautiful. I wanted to bring a new way of humor, so what I try to provoke is the feeling of not taking life too serious.”
Cara Anderson

Jessica Hische

Letter artist and logo designer Jessica Hische’s work is everywhere you turn and even where you pose. At the Color Factory last year, the wildly popular pop-up experience in San Francisco, she created the Paint the Town mural in a secret alleyway, which no selfie-loving Instagrammer could resist. Moviegoers, meanwhile, know Hische from the film titles she created for Wes Anderson’s Oscar-nominated Moonrise Kingdom. Coming soon: her logo redesign for Squier, a budget-friendly guitar line from Fender.

Speaking of logo redesigns, Hische has become something of a specialist in this arena, executing exquisitely subtle updates for Southern Living, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams and Eventbrite, among others. The projects indulge the letter-art geek inside her but also are her stealth way of teaching clients the valuable nuances of her craft. “I really like helping to justify hiring a professional,” she says, citing the proliferation of aggregate websites that offer anonymous design services on the cheap.

Jessica Hische's 'survival kit' design for John Hodgman's Ragnarok DVD

This story first appeared in the June 11, 2018, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.