The Heroine’s Journey of Alethea Van Holland

Alethea Van Holland – Comic/Sequential Artist, Illustrator, Writer, and Media Agent

What is the best thing that I love about my work?

I would have to say the freedom. There is so much I can do if I focus my mind and dedicate some time for it. And since it’s my true passion, I gladly give every piece of my time, heart, and soul to it. While yes, having some form of educational degree may help, drawing and illustrating in itself is very fundamental and ingrained in each of us. If you truly love the craft, nothing will stop you from learning any technique or form if you feel that pull. I can draw literally anything that comes to my mind, and since I also can put them into sequential stories, I can bring them to life by creating characters, atmosphere, while professionally doing this for others as well. It has also allowed me to meet an insurmountable bunch of people who are creative and talented from all walks of life while blessing inspiration along the way. Being an artist has opened up my world in ways I couldn’t fathom before, and it’s these reasons why I love doing it.

What is my idea of perfect happiness?

I’m a small town, dirt-road, country girl at heart, so I don’t need much to be happy. My favorite places to be are in the open fields or forest, with a small cabin loaded with cozy books, a woodstove, a bed, and plenty of coffee. Maybe a small garden to grow some fruit, herbs, vegetables, with birds as my neighbors. And of course to draw or create my days away!

What is my greatest fear?

Maybe I should’ve pursued the medical field more. Maybe I should give it all up and get a stable 9-5 job. Maybe I’m not that skilled compared to my peers. What will I do for retirement? Maybe this is all just a mistake. But then I remember, I only get one shot at life and my time here is limited. Why do something that makes me miserable and locked in a figurative box when there’s such a big, immense, unknown world out there? Even if I struggle, even if the future is uncertain, even if it hurts, I know down to my bones I’m meant to do this and I will see it through to the end, no matter how much I have to kick and scream.

What is the trait that I most deplore in myself?

How insecure I am. I’m constantly belittling myself either in my appearance, intelligence, how others perceive me, and of course my skills. But, in an odd turn of events, that inner “nagging voice” has empowered me. Instead of allowing it to degrade me, I used it as fuel to reinforce myself. When people judge or gossip about me, it doesn’t hurt at all because I have already said worse things to myself. When the “nagging voice” tries to break me down, I channel that energy into my work to get my projects done in a more efficient manner instead of allowing it to eat me away.

Which living persons in my profession do I most admire?

I’m instantly a fan of anyone who pursues their passion and chases their dream, rising above the crowds, challenging the norm, and following what compels them rather than allowing others to dictate their life. I have the pleasure to know many writers, artists, and creators who are older or younger than me, and I find each of them inspiring and professional in their own right.

What is my greatest extravagance?

It would be a toss-up between my sense of humor and work ethic. I’ve been told I’m extremely dedicated when it comes to working as I have a tendency to dive head first into whatever project presented. I spend hours on research and appropriately utilize all my supplies and techniques to portray the script into a visual format while remaining respectful to the client’s demands. I admit I’m not perfect, but I will get as close to it as possible with my numerous sleepless nights, frequent communication, and reaching the agreed deadline. For my sense of humor, it takes a lot to offend me as it’s such a wide spectrum. I love raunchy, offensive, dark jokes as well as light-hearted, innocent, playful ones.

On what occasion would I lie?

My belief is that lying, inherently, isn’t wrong. Lying comes out as the form of words, and words, in essence, are neutral. It’s the intent behind the words that make them powerful or destructive. And I feel this translates into lying as well. Personally, I tend to not lie as much as possible, because, for the most part, I have no reason to. But, if I was in a situation where I had to protect myself or someone else, then I would lie.

What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work?

I would have to say how people often mistake talent as a “gift.” When in reality, it’s not. Art is a craft. It takes years or decades of neverending discipline, research, practice, sacrifice, and a lot of failing. It’s my belief it’s acceptable to be experienced and skilled, but art should never be mastered. Art is an endless journey about evolving, pushing boundaries, experimenting, and continued growth. When people perpetuate the misconception being an artist is a “gift,” it belittles the community and the industry. It confuses people that quality artwork can be finished in a few minutes and doesn’t deserve any compensation or recognition. Because so many people believe art is a “gift,” it makes them hesitant from pursuing into the realm, when anyone can pick up a pencil and learn to draw and cultivate.

When and where was I the happiest, in my work?

Anytime I’m accepted or invited onto a project. Getting that unexpected request email or the notification I was chosen to draw a comic or some other project always makes me the happiest and brightens up my day instantly. It means the client believes in my skills to bring their vision, their dream into a visual, compelling, medium. It’s sometimes risky to trust a stranger to pass along their creation for the next phase and takes a large amount of trust. For that reason alone can make me truly happy and grateful.

If I could, what would I change about myself?

You know, I love mulling this kind of question over when it comes up. I’ve had the scenarios play out in my head of going back in time and giving advice to my younger self to change the future: “Don’t talk to this person, don’t date that guy, don’t tell this person that secret, don’t get that job, apply to this college instead.” But at the end of the day, I am who I am because of the obstacles I overcame. I wouldn’t be as wise or resourceful if it weren’t for all the hardships in my life, and I certainly wouldn’t be as grateful as I currently am for everything.

All in all, no matter how much of a fine line I walk between loving and deprecating myself, I wouldn’t change anything.

What is my greatest achievement in work?

Too often I reprimand myself because I’m still far from reaching the top of my goals, but I also have to remind myself I’ve come a long way from starting from nowhere. I never went to art college, I began without any connections or knowledge of the industry, a lot of my skills are self-taught through trial and error. But I put my mind to it, got my novel represented by a literary agent, got my comics published, I’ve been hired to make artwork for indie film studios, writers, publishers, companies, and agencies. Each year, my level in art continues to improve and my experience in the field constantly expands. So, the greatest achievement of my work? I would have to say I treasure all of it.

Where would I most like to live?

Everywhere and nowhere. My ultimate dream is to have a caravan type of transportation and live on the road. I would attend conventions across the country, meet endless people from all types of cultures and backgrounds, learn all kinds of languages, festivals, geography, and food. I wouldn’t stay in one place for long and make my transportation a Wi-Fi Hotspot of some kind so I can do my work remotely. I want to open up my world every day.

What is my most treasured possession?

My imagination, empathy, and curiosity. My imagination allows me the gateway to create anything at the edge of my fingertips. All I need to do is let the pencil do the rest while I zone out to some good music and drink some coffee. My empathy allows me to give a person the benefit of the doubt. I may not entirely understand their plight, but I will always try to lend a supportive shoulder, a good ear to listen and leave judgment out of the equation. Sometimes I get called naive because I’ve been told I trust too much in humanity, and even though it’s a flaw to many, I feel more grounded and more human because of my compassion. And lastly, my curiosity because I’m always starving to learn about anything, history, biology, botany, astronomy, mythology, and people. I love learning about the world through another person’s perspective as it can broaden your understanding and knowledge in ways you never expected.

What is my most marked characteristic?

My height! Fun fact, I’m the shortest member of my family. When I was younger I was self-conscious about it, but as I got older I learned to embrace it. I’m a proud four-eyed, short, coffee-addicted gremlin! Beware!

What is my most inspirational location, in my city?

I would just say, go outdoors, walk around for a while and you’ll find something inspiring. The mountains, the hiking trails, the rivers, the winter snowfall, the sunsets, or the budding of nature. Take a five-minute breather for yourself and you can find a lot of inspiration in the small things we often overlook.

What is my favorite place to eat and drink, in my city?

I don’t really have a one-set favorite place as I like to change things up, try new things, and keep my palette as accepting as possible. As long as the place has a calm or quiet atmosphere, some good coffee, I’m all for it.

What books influenced my life and how?

“Grimm Fairy Tales,” by the Grimm Brothers, “A Wrinkle in Time” quintet series by Madeleine L’Engle, “The Sight” by David Clement-Davies, “The Earthsea Cycle” by Ursula K. Le Guin, “Beauty” by Robin McKinley, “The Neverending Story” by Michael Ende, “Dracula” by Bram Stoker, “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley, “The Jungle Book” by Rudyard Kipling…and, oh jeepers, way too many. These books helped shape me into who I am, what I aspire to be, and timeless relevant messages for anyone to learn.

Who are my favorite writers?

Robin McKinley. This lady doesn’t get credited enough. She retells some old fairy tales like “Beauty” and “Rose Daughter” (Beauty and the Beast), “Deerskin” (Donkeyskin), “The Outlaws of Sherwood” (Robin Hood), and “Spindle’s End” (Sleeping Beauty) but does it in a way that’s an entirely original and interesting approach. Even in her original stories like “Sunshine” or “Pegasus,” she’s able to create mature, captivating, and sometimes dark worlds that don’t insult anyone’s intelligence. It’s so easy to become engulfed in the worlds she builds and get lost in the art of her words.

You Only Die Once. What music would I listen on my last day?

In the Blind” from the Made in Abyss Original Soundtrack. It’s a breathtaking, haunting, yet bright score all compiled into one. There are no lyrics, only instruments harmonizing in the perfect melody. The song makes me feel nostalgic and confident about the unknown beyond. It would make me reflect on all my memories, the people I met, and the adventures I had before I would make that departure.

Who is my hero or heroine in fiction?

Usagi from “Sailor Moon,” Atreyu from “The Neverending Story,” Belle (or Beauty) from “Beauty and the Beast,” Kiki from “Kiki’s Delivery Service,” Elizabeth Bennet from “Pride and Prejudice,” and Kelsier from “Mistborn.”

Who are my heroes and heroines in real life?

Jim Henson, Hayao Miyazaki, Steve Irwin, LeVar Burton, Naoko Takeuchi, Mister Rogers, and so many others.

Which movie would I recommend to see once in a lifetime?

“Your Name” or “The Children Who Chase Lost Voices” by Makoto Shinkai. Both films are fantastical and wonderful pieces of animation, storytelling, symbolism, and music. I guess it depends on what you’re in the mood for. “Your Name” starts out as a simple body-swapping story, but dives into a beautiful romance intertwined with aspects of mythology, culture, and an amazing twist. Whereas “The Children Who Chase Lost Voices” is just as spectacular but has a very mature theme of respecting yet accepting death or loss. It’s grounded in its atmosphere while embarking into an entirely new world hidden within ours. Either one feels like an experience rather than a movie.

What role plays art in my life and work?

Art is everywhere you look. From that graphics on your T-shirt, the design of your favorite character in a movie, the writing in a book, the way a baker gently molds a pastry, the way your home may be designed, to the way a flower growing on the sidewalk or how it smells. Art is how you walk, how you talk, how you live, and how you breathe. The human body and brain is a masterpiece of artwork in itself. Now, imagine all the life blooming or bustling around you–that is art as well. Art is constantly moving, adapting and evolving. It’s part of us and around us whether we’re aware of it or not.

Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner-in-crime?

My husband. He has done so much for me throughout the years to support my dreams. He’s my biggest supporter, my beta reader, my critic, my anchor when I’m feeling low or uncertain, my comrade to get into mischief. I can’t tell you how many times I’ll be ready to surrender in defeat and give up, and he’s there to bring me to my center. Whenever I feel inadequate or insignificant, he’s the one who reassures me by bringing up how much I’ve done and how far I’ve come and encourages me to keep going. I wouldn’t be where I am without him.

Whom would I like to work with in 2019?

Anyone and everyone! I work on more than just comics, I’m versed in character design, concept art, storyboarding, and more. If there’s something I don’t know how to do, I will adapt and learn. So if anyone who wants something done, as long as they come with good vibes and intentions, it would be an absolute pleasure to work with them!

Which people in my profession would I love to meet in 2019?

Honestly, I would love to meet all the writers, publishers, private clients, and fellow agents who I’ve collaborated with before. Most of the people I work with all live either outside my state or country. If I had the chance to meet all of them, share some laughs, and personally shake their hand to thank them for allowing me to contribute to their project, I would take that opportunity in a heartbeat.

What project, in 2019, am I looking forward to work on?

There’s quite a number of projects by numerous companies and publishers I’m looking forward to working with this year, but sadly, I can’t say anything public yet for confidentiality reasons. But there are a number of projects or upcoming titles I can announce:
– “Bad Luck” Issue #3. Co-created by myself and my friend Jaxon Joubert.

– “RED” film and graphic novel from Auspol Media Agency. I will be the official comic artist for the graphic novel and have contributed to the screenplay and project development.

– Ovean Comics, LLC. I’m a comic artist to one of their upcoming titles.

– “The Forgotten Voice,” a screenplay I wrote based on my novel. It’s represented by Auspol Media Agency and we’re working hard to pitch it to film studios.

– “Truant” a short story comic written by Zakh Fair, illustrated by myself, coming soon from Ravengear Studios.

…I’m eager to see where all these projects head in 2019!

Where can you see me or my work in 2019?

Check out samples my art, previous experiences and publications on my portfolio website:

https://aletheavanholland.weebly.com/

Come visit me on social media!

– Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/artofalethea

– Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/artofalethea/

– LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/alethea-van-holland-70b5b5116

What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me?

It’s part of you, makes you who you are. If you’re taking a break, it’ll beckon to you. You can’t run from it, and even if you did, it’ll eventually catch up. It’s there when you’re lonely and unsure. It’s there through your darkest nights and brightest moments. No matter how far removed you may feel, it will always be there to give you the ambition you need when you’re ready.

Which creative heroines should Peter invite to tell their story?

– Ariel Eveland, graphic designer, and illustrator. Find her at: https://evelandadesign.weebly.com/

Stefani Manard, comic author, and podcaster. Find her at: https://www.stefanimanard.com/

– Alysse Fozmark, actress, model, and writer. Find her at: http://alyssefozmark.com/

– Jennifer Riddle, graphic designer, illustrator, and writer. Find her at: http://www.j-ink.net

How can you contact me?

Shoot me a message via email for a friendly chat or if you’re looking for an artist for your next project: aletheavanholland@yahoo.com

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