Illustrated tributes to David Bowie carry the news of musician's death


David Bowie illustration by Helen Green

Following the death of legendary musician David Bowie, illustrators and graphic designers are posting their images interpreting his iconic style and flamboyant fashion.

Bowie died yesterday aged 69 after a 18-month battle with cancer, sparking a global reaction on social media.

David Bowie illustration by Helen Green
Helen Green has combined her illustrations of Bowie's different looks into an animated gif (main image)

One of the most shared images is a gif by British illustrator Helen Green, which flicks through Bowie's style reinventions through the years as his head slowly turns.

The British musician's album covers are also being shared, particularly the portrait of Bowie as alter-ego Ziggy Stardust with a lightning bolt painted over his face for 1973 record Aladdin Sane.

David Bowie illustration by Von
Von's illustrations is based on the lightning bolt from Bowie's Aladdin Sane album cover

Many illustrators have created variations of the picture, including Von who abstracted the image a watercolour of just the painted area of Bowie's face.

David-Bowie illustration by Gemma Correll
Gemma Correll's playful cartoon places the pink and blue bolt on a stone, named Glam Rock

The lightning bolt also features in The Guardian deputy creative director Chris Clarke's tribute, which simply reads "RIP" against a turquoise background, and Gemma Correll's tongue-in-cheek Glam Rock cartoon.

David Bowie illustration by Chris Clarke
The lightning bolt also features in Chris Clarke's tribute

Bowie had a huge influence on style and popular culture since his self-titled debut album was released in 1967. During the 1970s, his androgynous appearance became particularly iconic.

David Bowie Archimusic illustration by Federico Babina
Federico Babina turned Bowie's Space Oddity track into a cartoon house as part of his Archimusic series

In 2013, London's V&A museum hosted The David Bowie Is... exhibition of original costumes, set designs, photographs, instruments and other objects from his personal archive.

David Bowie illustration by Craig & Karl
Craig & Karl's combines some of Bowie's most recognisable outfits

Craig & Karl, based in London and New York, have combined some of Bowie's most recognisable outfits into a geometric cartoon for their tribute. Meanwhile, London designer Rich Fairhead has drawn the singer as a blonde.

David Bowie illustration by Rich Fairhead
Bowie is depicted as a blonde in Rich Fairhead's tribute

French illustrator Jean Jullien, whose Peace for Paris drawing became the symbol of last year's terrorist attacks in the city, posted a simple graphic of the musician's different-coloured eyes and a single tear.

David Bowie illustration by Jean Jullien
Jean Jullien highlights Bowie's different-coloured eyes

In the age of Instagram, illustration is becoming an important tool for disseminating news and reactions to global events.

David Bowie illustration by Max Saliba
Max Saliba's illustration shows Bowie as a constellation

Cartoonists and graphic designers, including Jullien, from around the world used their mediums to respond to the attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo last year.

  • Enrich

    A cultural force of nature. His impact on fashion, music and design cannot be described in words. Rest in peace.

  • Sammy

    Where were you when you found out about Bowie? I was on Instagram – how times have changed.

    I agree with Enrich, Bowie triggered huge cultural changes globally and we thank him for that.

    • JBennett

      His whole persona spoke to those who felt alienated in society. As a designer working in London, Bowie’s fashion, lyrics and the design of his albums have always influenced me in some way, whether I’m conscious of it of not.

      He has even been thanked by the German government for helping to contribute to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Creativity and innovation should be aggressively pursued while power and norms continuously questioned. Bowie did all of this for all his professional life.

  • Mala

    His influence on design cannot be underestimated. The man was a genius that will live on.

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  • Andrew Phelan

    Tony Visconti spoke to the StageLeft Podcast a few days ago and gave his own account into the making of the new Blackstar.

    It was a really interesting listen as he spoke about how Bowie was recently in the studio. He’s really going to be missed!