We’re continuing our “Heads Above the Rest” series this week with these fantastic portrait illustrations by Michael Arnold, Maarten Claassen, Lars Madsen and Patrick Welsh. Read on to learn why each artist chose their illustration to showcase, along with their influences, their favorite type of project to work on, and more!

Thanks again to Dave Plunkert, the creative director/designer and DI artist behind our “Heads Above the Rest” campaign!


Michael Arnold
Represented by George Grace Represents

UK artist Michael Arnold specializes in illustration for packaging, advertising, editorial and branding. His bold, graphic illustrations often incorporate vibrant and unexpected patterns that sometimes come to life in the form of fun animations.

DOI: Why did you choose this head to showcase?

MA: The portrait is based on our willingness to give away data about ourselves that we don’t realise is important as well as social media’s willingness to sell that data without giving us the full picture of what it portrays of us.

DOI: Describe your artistic style in three words.

MA: Bold, Conceptual and Graphic.

Maarten Claassen

Maarten Claassen is a freelance illustrator living in Eindhoven, the Netherlands who specializes in creating storyboards, character designs, editorial illustrations, comics and cartoons. His digital work has been produced for notable clients such as ANT (Association Dutch Dentists), Amazon/ Liquavista, Deloitte, Rabobank, Financial Times and more.

DOI: What is the context behind the head that you have chosen to show?

MC: I like to experiment with techniques and style. This head has to do with an idea that I had of a cartoon-esque French character in the experience of an animation atmosphere.

DOI: What influences your work?

MC: I am very interested in animation, political cartoons and advertising from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. In addition to being a draftsman, I am also a collector and I love the cartoon and realistic quality from those years. The detail, stylization and use of color certainly have a huge influence.


Lars Madsen

Lars Madsen is an award-winning artist based in Hamburg, Germany. His illustrations, animations, logos and custom letterings are created for a range of advertising, publishing houses, magazines and design clients. Lars is also the winner of the 2019 Communication Arts Illustration Award of Excellence!

DOI: What is the context behind the head you’ve chosen to showcase?

LM: This head is from a new series of cut-outs. I always like to work with loose lines, bold colors, and strong contrasts.

DOI: Why did you choose this particular head?

LM: What I like about this head is the girl’s classic beauty. She reminds me of classic portrait paintings like the Mona Lisa.

Patrick Welsh

Patrick Welsh is a detail-oriented, professional illustrator with over 20 years of experience. He produces illustrations, many of them being portraits, for a wide range of projects and clients, including Forbes, Scholastic, Berlitz, Oxford University Press, Politico, Women’s Health, Cal Alumni Association/UC Berkeley and more.

DOI: What is the context behind the head you’ve chosen to showcase?

PW: The illustration of Chris Pine was done as part of a spotlight series for UC Berkeley for the spring issue of their alumni magazine.

DOI: What is your favorite type of project to work on?

PW: I guess if I had to pick a favorite project type it would be illustrating people. I love drawing faces and also the human figure.