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Narrative Images: Illustration by Denise Tonner

A mixed media print artwork of birds in a tree, intaglio, drawing, ink

Denise Tonner is a Vancouver-based illustrator and print artist who creates narrative images in a loose, varied style. The artist’s images cast a whimsical light on a variety of subjects, and Denise’s portfolio overall reads like its own storybook.


A black and white intaglio print of people flying above rooftopsThe Dreamers, intaglio

Denise works both in color and black and white. Her soft, sketchy method of rendering figures and objects produces an aesthetic that celebrates the messiness, and slight imperfection inherent in traditional media. I like that the artist is able to vary her style when the subject matter calls for it – sometimes her works are extremely simplified and cartoonish, other times fairly realistic.


A screen capture of an illustration gallery on Denise Tonner's art websiteDenise's gallery of color illustrations


I especially enjoy Denise’ color gallery. Many of these images combine printmaking techniques with watercolor painting, creating a delicately etched look for each image. Most of these works place storybook-like figures in detailed backgrounds, creating scenes and tableaux rather than simple portraits. In some cases, architectural or foliage details are the entire focus of the work.

A drawing of a man creating a whisky cocktailWhiskey, pen and ink, watercolor

About the author

Dallas Jeffs Art Writer

Dallas Jeffs is the Editor of Artist Run Website's blog. She is a recent graduate of Emily Carr University of Art and Design, where she studied Critical and Cultural Practices. She is passionate about talking and writing about art, and sharing that interest with others. In her studio practice she is a painter, but she considers herself an art writer and educator foremost. If you like art, books and culture with a science fiction twist, check out Dallas' personal blog, HappySpaceNoises

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