A vibrant illustration of calves pollinating a flower

All images © María Jesús Contreras, shared with permission

Fluffy calves with wings and a knack for pollination, picnicking bunnies, and a cow enjoying a grassy meal at the dinner table are a few of the adorable creatures that populate María Jesús Contreras’ illustrations. The Chile-based artist envisions fantastical worlds of play and whimsy, inhabited by characters that express strong emotions. Saturated with bright colors, her illustrations brim with texture and grainy details that give the scenes a retro feel.

Contreras works between analog and digital mediums, and her process often begins on paper. “In Chile, we have many stray dogs and cats and street vendors. I like to take a notebook and write life (into) my characters,” she shares, noting that she often references the surreal qualities of her dreams in her pieces. “The rest of the process is just drawing, keeping a colorful palette, and working with texture, but most of the time the idea is what takes most of the time.”

In addition to her personal projects, Contreras works with newspapers, magazines, and various brands including Penguin Random House, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic on commissioned pieces. You can find prints and other goods in her shop, and follow her latest illustrations on Instagram.


A vibrant illustration of rabbits at a picnic

A vibrant illustration of a cow eating dinner at the table

A vibrant illustration of fish in glass vessel

A vibrant illustration of a butterfly on flowers

A vibrant illustration of a meal steaming in rabbit shapes

A vibrant illustration of plants growing in pots

A vibrant illustration of a goose, fish, and lounging cat in a surreal scenario

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