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Top 10 Breakthrough Artists in 2012

Exactly a year ago today, we went through our archives and pulled out our Top 10 Breakthrough Artists in 2011. From Paige Bradley and her magnificently cracked sculpture to Brian Dettmer and his masterfully carved books, these artists blew us away not just with their talent but with their unique approach to art.

This year we decided to open up the field a bit more and include not just artists but designers and photographers. From Evan Robertson's clever book quote illustrations to Simon Beck's beautifully ornate snow patterns, join us in celebrating the incredible achievements of these breakthrough artists, the ones who not only were brave enough to dream but determined enough to follow through on their great ideas.

10. Kylie Woon

In her series titled Surreal-ity, Hawaii-based photographer Kylie Woon creates daring self-portraits where she floats, flips, and flies across each frame. Her surreal photos reflect all of the happy and sad emotions that come with life. As she says, “Everyone feels a sense of longing or wistfulness for something at some point and it is then that they escape into their minds. I feel like my pictures are created in that ‘place', that ‘wavelength' that all people visit in their dreams, in their most personal thoughts.” [See more here or buy her prints here]


9. Melania Brescia

Though just 20-years-old, Spain-based photographer Melania Brescia has already started making a name for herself. Though she's only being photographing for the last four years, her self-portraits feel fresh and unique, each telling their own gripping story. She's definitely one to watch. [see more here.]


8. Tomasz Kopera

Poland-based artist Tomasz Kopera creates surreal paintings of man versus nature that all have a mysterious and dark undertone. Through his work, he aims to awaken our subconscious and open our mind up to worlds that could only exist in our dreams. As he says, “I want to stop the spectator for a long moment and to arouse in him the need for consideration and contemplation.” [See more here.]


7. Nagai Hideyuki

Like Chilean artist Fredo, 21-year-old Japanese artist Nagai Hideyuki knows how to make illustrations come alive. Using a simple pad of paper as his backdrop, the artist creates amazing 3D optical illusions using charcoal and pencil. His anamorphic work must be viewed at a certain angle for the images to really pop off the page. Talk about impressive. [See more here.]


6. Dave Engledow

Move over Jason Lee. There's a new creative dad in town, the self-proclaimed “World's Best Father.” DC-based dad Dave Engledow stole our hearts with photos of him and his little baby girl Alice Bee in some truly hilarious situations. Though they'll make practically anyone laugh, these images will really hearts of first-time parents. [See more here.]


5. Ron Schmidt

Though we've featured a lot of pet photography this past year, no one's work stood out more than Ron Schmidt's. His wonderfully witty dog portraits made us laugh with glee as we saw picture after picture of what Schmidt believes dogs could do when no one was looking. Schmidt put a lot thought in creating these shots. As he says, “The challenge of new ideas is not crossing that line from witty to kitschy. Although the photos are of dogs, I want to create images that are smart, believable and fun.” [See more here.]


4. Cristina Otero

16-year-old Spanish photographer Cristina Otero busted out into the scene with her incredibly “delicious” self-portrait series called Tuttii Frutti. Using bold make-up, the self-taught artist paints her face with bright colors until she matches her desired fruit. Her willingness to experiment and her bravery to share her unique portraits with the world, makes her one photographer to watch. [See more here]


3. Sebastian Eriksson

18-year-old artist Sebastian Eriksson knows how to lay it all out there. His surreal pencil drawings are not only intriguing, they often carry a deep and personal meaning. For instance, in the piece above, titled Lost in Thought, he says, “One day I felt like I was lost and I had too much things to think about. Like I was stuck in a maze and couldn't get out.” [See more here


2. Evan Robertson

You don't have to be bibliophile to enjoy these clever illustrations from Evan Robertson. The New York-based graphic designer went through some old books and starting underlining the quotes that spoke to him. He then turned those “snippets of text and ideas” into illustrations that he hopes “engages the mind as much as the eye.” The series will be completed in the next few months, or when he reaches 50 in total. [See them here and here.]


1. Simon Beck

How could you not admire a man who walks all day to create incredible snow patterns? Artist Simon Beck braves the cold and, no doubt, his aching legs to create these wonderful works of art that are typically the size of three soccer fields. Using snowshoes, he works 5-9 hours a day to make complex geometric forms. [See more here.]

Which these artists most inspires you?

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