Ink Drawing: Not Just For Ink Blots Anymore

Ink Drawing Artists of Note

Drawing with ink takes the precision of a master draftsman and the skill of a watercolorist handling a fluid medium. When I was in school I was completely captivated by the silky dark lines of one of the most famous pen and ink artists, Aubrey Beardsley, but there are several artists working today whose pen and ink drawing work deserves some attention, too.

The Playful Characters of Daniel Egneus

Daniel Egneus is a Swedish illustrator who works with pen and ink drawing and watercolor. He’s had widespread commercial success creating illustrations and designs for Haagen-Dasz, BMW, Nike, books covers and more. So you may be familiar with his drawings. And if you aren’t you’ll know them now by the way he contrasts slender line strokes and outlines with voluminous passages of dark ink. His drawings feel more like ink sketches, with marks that are not deliberate and end results that have an ease and flow to them. He’s also got a playful side to him, turning a girl’s ponytail into a small school of goldfish–and that’s the kind of play that opens up one’s creative mind.

Beauty Show by Daniel Egneus.
Ink drawing by Daniel Egneus.
Ink drawing by Daniel Egneus.
Red Riding Hood by Daniel Egneus

The Narrative of Matt Rota

Matt Rota pursues his own fine art drawings while holding down teaching positions at a number of universities, authoring his own books like The Art of Ballpoint, and working freelance for a variety of sources including the New York Times Op-Ed page. From images based on current news coverage to more inchoate narratives that lead to expansive ideas as you view them, my mind never shuts off when I look at his ink drawings. I’m always abuzz with ideas or fragmented thoughts, attesting to his strong compositional skills and his way of creating unconventional and sometimes alarming scenes that grab you with a strong image, but never run away with formal concerns. His work could never be described as “art for art’s sake.” Instead, the artist keeps any purely aesthetic impulse in check to visually whisper in your ear, though never giving away too much.

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The Surreal Characters of Minjae Lee

I think of collapsing worlds and images when I look at the work of Minjae Lee. He’s a young South Korean artist who uses color, pattern, and line to create images that read like slick ink marker drawings that combine fantasy imagery, typography, the human face, and more. His works evoke words like kaleidoscopic, biomorphism, and head-trippy. His drawings are almost completely ornamental and the height of artifice, but my eye follows each line almost as if I was looking at a landscape painting–that is how engaging each passage of any one of his drawings is.

Empieter(2015) Marker/Pen/Ink on Paper 80×100 cm Just finished✔️✨

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The Mischievous Illustrations of Desarae Lee

Influenced by personal trauma and struggles with depression and anxiety disorders, Desarae creates work that revolves around themes of finding humor in pain, beauty in the grotesque, and light in the darkness. As comfortable referencing geek culture as she is bearing the depths of her soul, Desarae’s work ranges in theme but is always, as she says, “an attempt to connect the hidden places in myself to the hidden places in the viewer, to somehow create a bridge of communication over the immense expanse of our differing perceptions, beliefs, and experiences.”

Desarae’s work feature meticulous line work, creating wonderful characters in interesting compositions. Her work is entrancing and often mischievous, asking you to think about your innermost being.

Metamorphosis III

She is finished. #boticelli #enjoyingyherainydays

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These artists do pen and ink proud, right? In celebration of their chosen medium and because October is the Inktober drawing challenge–our month-long celebration of all things pen and inkcheck out all the resources that are at your fingertips when it comes to pen, ink, calligraphy and more. Use the coupon code INK20 through October 31, 2017, to get 20% off the pen and ink resources that catch your eye! Enjoy!

P.S. What artists working with pen and ink do you admire? Leave a message and let me know.







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Courtney Jordan

About Courtney Jordan

  Courtney is the editor of Artist Daily. For her, art is one of life’s essentials and a career mainstay. She’s pursued academic studies of the Old Masters of Spain and Italy as well as museum curatorial experience, writing and reporting on arts and culture as a magazine staffer, and acquiring and editing architecture and cultural history books. She hopes to recommit herself to more studio time, too, working in mixed media.   

17 thoughts on “Ink Drawing: Not Just For Ink Blots Anymore

  1. If anyone wants to look up that wonderful pen & ink artist you mention, it’s actually Aubrey (with a “b”) Beardsley, and his fabulous art is well worth a viewing!

  2. See now that is the rub. I have been interested in ink paintings for a few years now. And let me tell you what I found. When I ask about ink paintings in the USA I am told ” Oh you know that is an Asian Style of painting?”. And when I say no it is not. I am told that ” We in the States don’t use ink to make pictures any more since the advance of the computer and wooden printers being obsolite.
    But if we did use to use ink to create pictures, where are all the old pictures, as well as artist who created them? Nobody seems to have an answer for me.

    So if any body knows any American ink painters please email me.

  3. Ed Hall. He’s probably best known as a cartoonist, but he’s also an amazing artist in his own right. I’ve been lucky enough to persuade him to do a few tutorials for me at Ed has a really beautiful sense of form and contour like that of a classically trained artist, but without losing that sense of the artist’s hand at work – there’s so much energy in his line. His figure drawings in ink are just gorgeous.

  4. Daniel Eugene creates intoxicatingly beautiful pen and ink line drawings, musings on his complex inner life. His drawings display a vocabulary of form and symbol that at times seems vaguely familiar, and other times, otherworldly. Apart from the imagery, the flowing forms are a treat for the eye but soon engage the viewer’s imagination. The masterful lines leave one wondering about the magnificence of the human mind and hand as they work together to produce transcendent images that have a corollary in wonderfully composed music. His work is truly the stuff of dreams. Visit the website at

  5. My favorite medium is Pen and Ink. I work in others i.e., charcoal, graphite pencils, and watercolor but P&I is the overall winner! My style uses the stippling technique and is quite tedious but well worth the effort. I don’t think that today P&I art is given due respect as other mainstream mediums. I hope to help change that view! You can see some of my work at under dkbetts11. See u there!

  6. Our gallery, Fusión Isleña has been running an ink drawing competition for 10 years, called BOLIGRÁFICO (r). We started with 3 categories for kids 12 and up and had to add adults 21-39 and 40 + by popular demand. THe drawings they generate are amazing, specially the teen-agers. They have 6 hours to draw and some don’t stop, not even to go to the restroom! We post some of the winners on our Facebook page: galeria Fusión Isleña…take a look!

  7. I was disappointed that the writer did mot mention any female artist in this genre. If we don’t look actively we will never find them and if we do not find them we will never know them.