Marcos Chin

I've seen Marcos's work on more than a few sites before and read his blog, but have yet to post about him for some reason - so shameful! Anyways, Marcos is an amazingly talented illustrator with a more than impressive portfolio; he's done work for the New York Times, Penguin Books, Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, etc., and doesn't seem to plan on stopping anytime soon. His illustrations have a wonderful sense of color and balance, and a subtle sense of humor to balances out his interesting takes on lighting and perspective. Also, he happens to write one of the more thoughtful artist blogs I've seen in a while - he is funny but also very earnest, and gives great advice about overcoming both visual and life problems, as well as interesting thoughts about the illustration industry. His students at SVA are very lucky! Check out his site for more work than you can probably look at in one sitting.

Graeme Balchin

Nice (albeit fuzzily photographed) carnival-type series from Graeme Balchin

Heather Horton

Oh my God oh my God oh my God. You know I love realism, but you also know I love painterly brush strokes and unexpected colors in representational paintings, so just imagine my excitement when I came across the work of Heather Horton. Not only is she an absolutely exquisite technical painter (oh Lordy look at those folds of fabric) but she's able to capture amazing snapshots of solitude simply and beautifully; looking at her paintings, I feel sympathy for these seemingly expressionless and depressed women, but also a strong sense of release and redemption. Heather approaches the idea of bed and the human effects on fabric to capture the recharging power of sleep and quiet that everyone experiences on a daily basis. I hope you get as much emotion out of them as I do, and please go on her site to see more! She also has a few interesting process posts on her blog, like this one for the 5th image below.

Lauren Youngsmith

I've never met Lauren Youngsmith, but she drew my sister a picture of a girl riding a narwhale and since then, I've been hardcore creeping her art. Her line work looks effortless, and her characters have just the right balance of creepy and cool. There's loads more on her website that I didn't post because of pesky watermarks, but you should take a look for yourself; I promise you won't be disappointed!

Sarah Joncas

Sarah Joncas's art has the rare and cherished combination of precise technical skill and intense and stylized themes. I think she hits just the right balance between kitschy and cinematic (who'd have thunk, right?), and she uses oil the way it was meant to be used, layering until she gets amazingly deep tones and bright expressive lighting. Her site has a ton more work if you're interested - Sarah appears to be ridiculously prolific with her creation, especially considering the size and medium of her pieces.
Also, in the neverending case of people who look like their art, I think she really resembles her girls with their wideset eyes and round button noses.
Who do you know that looks like the people they draw?

Nikki Stavin

I commissioned Nikki to draw a picture of me way back when (the first, headband) and am glad to see all the success she's had since! I love her delicate stylized portraits, especially the subtle colored pencil effects. She's taking commissions for really not very much money so you should absolutely hit her up. Do it.

Sam McKenzie

Have I told you how much I love the art of Sam McKenzie? MORE THAN I CAN DESCRIBE.
I want to be every girl in his drawings; they're sexy and tough and have awesome clothes and perfectly shiny asses knees and cheeks. They battle monsters and play guitar, all while looking completely nonchalant. Also, they're surrounded by Sam's bitchin typography. The sketches on his site are also really cool, so you should go and look at them. Yay!

Kali Ciesemier

Great work from Kali Ciesemier! It's nice to see someone with a wonderfully defined style who is still able to create such diverse moods within their illustrations. I especially love the image of the girl in front of the fire - the grey and red look so nice together, and I love the texture. She has a fun blog as well, though I only wish she posted on it more - I love seeing her process from sketch to final product, and she's quite entertaining as well. Anyways, see her website for lots more great work (as if I didn't post enough below...) AND to see awesome Game of Thrones themed illustrations (NOW do you see why I love her so much?)