The Directory of Illustration is excited to share our “Heads Above the Rest” campaign, which was recently featured as the back cover ad in the May/June 2019 Communication Arts Illustration Annual! We invited our artists to submit various illustrations of silhouetted heads; from those submissions, we selected 20 illustrations to be featured in the campaign. These 20 unique portrait illustrations represent a wide range of styles and media, from conceptual to realistic, and from digital to woodcut.

Heads Above Rest Directory of Illustration communication arts portraits

In the coming weeks, we’ll be introducing each of the 20 of the artists that have been selected for our “Heads Above the Rest” campaign. This week, we’re thrilled to highlight the work of Steven NobleAlan Witschonke, Marty Bee and Craig McGill. Read on as these artists explain their illustrations and share some interesting facts about themselves!

Special thanks to Dave Plunkert at Spur Design, the brilliant creative director/designer (and DI artist) behind our “Heads Above the Rest” campaign!


Steven Noble

Internationally recognized Steven Noble has over 20 years of experience specializing in X-Acto precision knives carved into pre-inked clay boards, which allows for versatility in detail from bold woodcuts to traditional 19th century steel engravings. Fun fact: Steven illustrated the back of the U.S. $1 bill, refreshed the White House logo and is the artist behind American Express’ signature centurion figure!

This lion head illustration was derived from the Darwin Brands project, for which Steven illustrated a lion/man figure to serve as Darwin’s new brand identity. We asked Steven what advice he would give to an artist just starting out in his or her career, and he said:
“Be tenacious, do quality work and market yourself as much as you can….”


Alan Witschonke

With over 30 years of professional experience, Alan has become well-known for his realism illustrations and use of acrylic and digital techniques. He has created editorial, advertising, book publishing and corporate artwork for a number of notable clients, such as the Rolling Stone, National Geographic, Cooks Illustrated, Random House and the Boston Red Sox. Read Alan’s explanation of his illustration:

“This piece originated as a contribution to an online gallery which was a side project of the illustrator blog, To gain access to the blog, one had to type in an eight letter, compound-word security code such as “railbird” or “facewood.” These sounded like intriguing phrases to illustrate, so a gallery was set up that anyone could contribute to. I, of course, chose “hairburn.”


Marty Bee

Marty Bee, who enjoys “making the familiar strange” with his artwork, produces humorous illustrations of anything from an alien neurologist, to a dancing cockroach, to Kanye West in baby form. His cartoons and caricatures poke fun at celebrities, sports figures and politicians alike, all while retaining a bold and graphic artistic style.

DOI: Why did you choose this head to showcase?

MB: I wanted to try some new things. Jo Ann Miller, my contact/muse at the Directory of Illustration, suggested I pursue some “caricatures” of sports figures and celebrities (I got a home run with doing a portrait of Steven Tyler that was used in a Skittles Super Bowl commercial a few years back.) I started looking for likely candidates. My wife and I were watching the World Series and this character, Big Papi, was commentating on the series. He was such an alarming looking fellow! (Way over the top funny!) I HAD to do him. After a series of sketches, I added him to my portfolio.


Craig McGill

Australian artist Craig McGill is an award-winning designer and illustrator for banknotes, currency, stamps and more. His work appears on the Australian bicentenary ten-dollar note, the original Australian $100 note, the Papua New Guinea Kina, the Cook Islands banknotes and English Pound travelers’ checks. Craig is also the co-creator of the internationally trademarked brand Wine Dogs, where he acts as publisher, co-author and photographer of over 20 international best-selling books.

DOI: Why did you choose this head to showcase?

CM: The head chosen is my illustration business logo – once described as Real Nasty – a name that has stuck….It also reflects my humor and love of gargoyles.

DOI: What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

CM: The most challenging part of my job is being in the right place at the right time….