Mad Leif: Making good out of something bad

Mad Leif: Making good out of something bad

For years, the enigmatic artist Tom Coolen known as Mad Leif has been captivating audiences with his stunning poster creations, which weave emotions and moments through impeccable gradient work. In this opening article of, we delve into the origins of Mad Leif's artistry, his unique style, and the deep emotional connections that fuel his creative process.

It all began in 2018, a transformative year for Tom when he decided to embark on a journey of self-discovery by giving up drinking. It was during this period that he stumbled upon a thriving community of artists sharing their work on Instagram. 

"I don’t quite recall how exactly, but I started seeing people sharing posters and other creative work on Instagram, and a whole world opened up for me," Mad Leif reminisced.

Having studied 'Publicity & Illustration' in high school and attempting Graphic Design in University, Tom faced setbacks that initially hindered his creative pursuit. "I think mostly because I wasn’t mature enough yet, I’m definitely a late bloomer," he admitted.

However, life took a different turn for Tom, leading him down various career paths, including working multiple factory jobs. But destiny had a plan for him, as he rediscovered his passion for creating and expressing himself after giving up alcohol.

"Creating was a great way of dealing with that, expressing my thoughts and emotions, and gathering the confidence of actually putting it out into the world by sharing them on Instagram," he shared.

In the early stages of his artistic journey as Mad Leif, Tom found inspiration from the artworks he saw on social media. Yet, he quickly evolved and developed a unique style marked by vibrant and colorful expressions influenced by nature's beauty both around him and within.

"Countless days and nights were (and still are) spent experimenting with different tools in Illustrator until things just started to click," Tom revealed, showcasing the dedication and passion he pours into his craft.

But beyond the aesthetics, his poster work serves as a powerful medium to vent his emotions and explore the dichotomy of life's experiences. "Making good out of something bad is one of the central themes I like to work with. I like to see myself as sort of an alchemist in that way," he explained.

While many of his works delve into negative or melancholic emotions, Tom emphasizes that emotions of all kinds hold immense power, and he relishes the opportunity to transform them into visually striking art pieces.

In a commendable display of vulnerability, he has been open about his state of mind on social media. "I do sometimes vent thoughts on Instagram stories, where I know there won't be too many eyes on it," he confessed.

Recently, he courageously shared his journey of self-discovery after undergoing a psychiatric diagnostic process, revealing that he is on the autism spectrum. Such candidness has not only allowed him to process his emotions but also shed light on the importance of mental health awareness.

"Although I find it difficult to share about my mental health on social media, I believe it's essential for people to do so," Tom stated. "Even some of my closest friends weren't aware of what I was going through until I impulsively shared on Instagram."

As for the future of the Mad Leif project, Tom has ambitious plans. In the short term, he aims to launch a new website and online shop, allowing more art enthusiasts to connect with his mesmerizing creations.

Looking further ahead, the artist dreams of creating physical light installations that interact with people, echoing the same profound themes found in his graphic work. With each step, Tom continues to explore the depths of emotions, shining a light on the human experience through his breathtaking artistry.

In conclusion, Tom's journey exemplifies the power of art as a vessel for emotional expression and self-discovery. Through his posters, he has successfully touched the hearts of many.

Mad Leif on Instagram:




Back to blog