Artists honour SpongeBob creator with illustrations of his beloved characters

SpongeBob SquarePants creator Hillenburg has died aged 57.

Artists are paying their respects to Stephen Hillenburg with illustrations of the SpongeBob SquarePants creator and his beloved characters.

Hillenburg died aged 57 after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease last year, and his loss has been felt by fans across the world.

Brazilian political cartoonist Carlos Latuff’s drawing sees three characters from the Nickelodeon cartoon’s underwater town, Bikini Bottom, at Hillenburg’s graveside.

“SpongeBob is one of my favourite cartoons,” Latuff told the Press Association. “He’s so nice and cool, if he was real I would make my best to meet him and give a big hug!

“Now SpongeBob’s duty is to bring awareness to ALS.”

Hillenburg was diagnosed in March 2017 with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, for which there is no known cure.

Animator Andy Scherman, formerly a character designer for Cartoon Network, drew a tribute including Hillenburg, SpongeBob and the Krusty Krab, the fast food restaurant where SpongeBob works.

“Thank you for all the legit belly laughs you magnificent being, you will be beyond missed,” Scherman wrote on Twitter.

Many creatives focused their tributes on Hillenburg’s most famous character.

Goal and Bundesliga cartoonist Omar Momani depicted SpongeBob as an angel with a harp, adding that the show “was always a reference to my cartoon knowledge”.

Twitter user @FiinelRush drew the square-panted character blowing bubble hearts, commenting “you shall always be in our hearts and never forgotten.”

Other illustrations include SpongeBob’s fellows such as Patrick Star, Squidward Tentacles, Mr Krabs and Sandy Cheeks, who are all included in Spanish-language media site Pictoline’s tribute.

Various artists re-imagined the characters in their own unique styles, such as the minimalist depictions of SpongeBob and Patrick by @komomorebi.

Another Twitter user, @noodledead, made an image featuring Patrick in fishnet tights and high heels, with the tagline “we’re all goofy goobers” in reference to the show.

Alex Pardee’s abstract piece focuses on SpongeBob’s vibrant colouration.

“R.I.P. Stephen Hillenburg, creator of one of the most imaginative, fun, innocent and brilliant worlds that no one with a sliver of an imagination could ever grow out of,” wrote Pardee on Twitter.

Twitter user @BarraDiza specialises in anime and manga, Japanese cartoons, and the image she made of Hillenburg, SpongeBob and Patrick is somewhat reflective of the style.

“Thank you Stephen Hillenburg for all the fun, laugh and joy,” they tweeted. “We will miss you so much!”

Story artist Jonna Li accompanied their image of SpongeBob by saying the show shaped their “entire childhood and present” and helped them make friends.

New generations of artists have also been inspired to pay tribute to Hillenburg’s show, such as 15-year-old Ty, username @tysartbook.

Fellow teenager Steven Vargas, also 15, made an illustration of SpongeBob as well.

Hillenburg’s death was announced on Tuesday by children’s TV network Nickelodeon.

Hillenburg was a former marine biology teacher who launched the series featuring an animated sponge that lives in a pineapple under the sea in 1999.

As a teacher Hillenburg used illustrations of the sea and its creatures as teaching tools before pursuing an animation degree in 1987.

He went on to receive two Emmy Awards and six Annie Awards, from the International Animated Film Association, for SpongeBob SquarePants.

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