Designing Women: Simulating Life

by Fred Showker

In our travels over the past weeks we've run across so many spectacular talents. For our March theme, we were particularly looking for outstanding works by women and nobody was disappointed. These were singled out for their unique talents and sensitivity to the visual presentation of people and people in situations. Simulating life is never easy -- yet these excellent examples of work move toward realism with a discretionary hand; focusing on detail yet interjecting just enough style and imagination to take the work beyond just simulating life. We hope you enjoy visiting these studios as much as we did!

Emma: Extraordinary Emotions

Emma: Extraordinary Emotions

Take one look at the pencil drawing above, then take a look at the 'wip' of that piece and you should be as delighted to discover Emma as we were. Here, you've got to see the enlargement!
      Our first contact was her "Scarlett Johansson" painting ... but when we looked at the portfolio as a whole --WOW! Emma has the unique talent for bringing the emotion of the subject into the work of art. In her gallery of portraits, you'll find that almost every work has a unique and compelling personality that makes a direct emotional link. Wonderful stuff... Visit Emma's Gallery at
Emma: Extraordinary Emotions

Redragon: Chris redragon at DeviantArt

Redragon: Chris

This 3D portrait by Addy, (known on Deviant as "redragon") is a stunning example of the true powers of Poser and Photoshop when used in combination. At first you think it's a Photoshopped photograph ... but it's actually an original piece of 3D artwork. Here, check out the enlargement
      See other works in Addy's gallery where you can also purchase a PDF tutorial explaining how this was created.
Redragon: Chris Redragon: Chris

The soul can wait: Sarah Rose Oliver

The soul can wait: Sarah Rose Oliver

Sarah Rose Oliver is an art student in the United Kingdom, and while her works are generally cartoon in nature, she has produced a unique vision in this painting of Gerard Butler. Some of her other realistic illustration work includes this fabulous painting of Bob Dylan. Her web site has gone dead, however you can feast on some of her other wonderful art, like this unbelievable portrait of Zooey in her gallery
The soul can wait: Sarah Rose Oliver The soul can wait: Sarah Rose Oliver

Julia Martin: Pink Girl with the Blues

Julia Martin: Pink Girl with the Blues

Pink Girl is not exactly realistic, but there's a sensitivity about the piece that defies realism. This is just one facet of Canadian "Conceptual Artist" Julia Martin. Pink Girl became orange girl in this self-promo piece. Julia has posted more than 200 items to DeviantArt, spanning across multiple genres of visual imagery. Her gallery, 'some of the people I know' presents photographic assemblage of replicated 'snapshots' into grids. From graphic design to painting ... visit Julia at
Julia Martin: Pink Girl with the Blues

Simulating Life: Erika Johansson

Simulating Life: Erika Johansson

When we visited Erika Johansson's gallery our first impression was the stunning diversity of her work.

Yes, the "Commission Portrait" above is what first caught our attention, but when we arrived we saw everything from child-like, cartoon greeting cards to uniforms and costumes. (Yes, costumes that you would design, and then make for someone to wear!) Her work ranges from super realistic, as seen in our "realism" header above, to down-right primitive and everything in between. Puzzle: how can one artist go from this to this?
      This painting of Kristin Kreuk is one of our favorites, simply because it doesn't try to be 'realistic' while actually taking on the feeling of realism. I think you might just enjoy browsing Erika's "Portrait Gallery"
Simulating Life: Erika Johansson Simulating Life: Erika Johansson

15th Annual Designing Women for 2010 - simulating realityA lot of web sites that present 'eye candy' lists of art never really touch on the background. They shovel it in to get your attention and clicks. Seriously, they make it look too easy. The skills displayed above, while not necessarily the best of the field, represent hundreds of hours of work and study. You don't get even this good quickly. And, while some of our ladies above are very young, they have that sublime mixture of inherent talent and learned skills that leads one to greatness.

I thank them all for participating, and I know they will all continue to advance toward greatness. You can count on that. If you've discovered visions that should be shared in the Design Center gallery, just let us know.

Thanks for reading

Fred Showker

Don't forget ... to share your discoveries about favorite graphic designers and illustrators with other readers. Just comment below, give me a tweet at Twitter/DTG_Magazine, or drop me an email. You'll be glad you did!

Marion painting by Emma, portrait with expressive eyes

Also see:

Designing Women 2009
Designing Women 2008
NEVER! fall "In Love" with your designs Sage advice from Trish, the Contemporary-Native
Meet all of our past spotlights in the Designing Women Archive

27th Anniversary for DTG Magazine


On March 29th, SvglqMW said:

WOW this does so some wonderful work ... I've linked to this in my blog. Thanks again

On April 8th, Erika said:

Just found this page and I feel so honored that ur writing about my work.
Thank you so much.

On April 8th, Erika said:

Just found this page and I feel so honored
that ur writing about my work.

Thank you so much.

On December 29th, Cady said:

This is an artclie that makes you think "never thought of that!"