Heroes of sport & design celebrated by daily portrait project

Artist and Digital Arts contributor Bram Vanhaeren has created a series of portraits of his heroes as part of a new project.


Artist and Digital Arts contributor Bram Vanhaeren has created a series of portraits of his heroes as part of a new project.

We caught up with Bram to find out more about the series, titled On The Wall, how he chooses his heroes and the creative process behind the portraits.

DA: Why did you want to do this project?

BV: "After I graduated few months ago, I lost interest in illustrating and art in general. Then few weeks ago, the joy of illustrating took me by surprise and I started illustrating some of my heroes. I was drawing people I look up or athletes from my childhood that took my breath away with their achievements.

"Everything came together so I continued drawing people that inspire me and I like. This way I could share my appreciation for these people with my friends and start a conversation about their heroes."

DA: Tell us a bit about the creative process behind the pieces, from finding references to working them up in a coherent style.

BV: "Most of the time I have a clear idea of who they are and what they represent. I would like to see this same energy in the portrait. It can be in their eyes, their focus, sometimes their movement, and their actions that makes a great portrait.

"So I look up for a great shot, then I start drawing with the Pencil tool in Adobe Illustrator with my mouse (I can't work with tablets). In simple black, I start with the most important details and build the rest around that. Once my black and white illustration is done I start colouring in Adobe Photoshop and add the correct energetic feel to the portraits.

"Once I get that "yes, this is great" feeling, I'm done and share it with my friends."

Use the slideshow controls above and right to see more of Bram's portraits and to find out more about how he created them.

Right: Michael Johnson

DA: How would you sum up your heroes? Is there a single defining characteristic that unites them?

BV: "In the beginning I was really focused on athletes that inspired me when I was a kid, such as Michael Johnson. I started athletics when I was 5 years old, together with my two brothers. Michael Johnson was a figure that really impressed me when I was young.

"From there it was very simple to continue and illustrate my heroes. They had an impact on who I am as an athlete and as a person."

DA: How did you choose who to do first?

BV: "In the beginning I just randomly picked athletes that inspire me. I have a long list actually. Later on I asked for suggestions via social media."

Right: Steve Jobs


DA: In general, how important is it for creatives to look up to heroes to inspire them and drive them creatively and professionally?

BV: "For me it reminds me the fact everyone is continually working on their style, their personality. They remind me that you are powerful beyond measure and inspire you to be who you are and be better every single day."

DA: For someone to be a 'hero', do you need to look up to them personally as well as their works/actions in the professional world?

BV: "I believe so. My heroes are not only inspiring in what they do professionally, but also as people in general. They have this X-factor that grabs your attention and makes you want to do something you thought you could never do."

Right: Bo Jackson

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DA: As a wider point, do we have to respect a creative personally to respect their work? And conversely, if they are morally abhorrent – such as Eric Gill – should we ignore their works?

BV: "For me, I can't support someone or show appreciations for their work if they have a disgusting personality – I know this is subjective. I will be drawing Will Smith later today, because he is amazing for so many reasons. If he kills someone tomorrow, my respect will slip away in seconds."

Right: Michael Jordan


DA: How long will you carry on the project for?

BV: "As long as I'm having fun!"

Right: Sofia Boutella