Cochrane author Devin Artym, 24, is getting his name out to the public with his latest release of June The Jellyfish, a children's book about a shy little jellyfish that loves to dance, but she is too afraid to talk to any other fish in the sea and worries about overcoming her fears to make new friends.
"This was my first story staring a female lead character, so I wanted to make sure it was a compelling character, and was done really well. I was inspired by the idea of creating a story that is relatable to girls who struggle with social anxiety, or anyone for that matter, and not necessarily portray a solution to it in the story, but just to make June feel relatable in that sense," Artym said of his new title.
"The approach I took with creating the character designs was quite a complex one. I would start by illustrating the characters by hand, either traditionally with pencil and paper, or by using my digital draw tablet. I would then create a vector image of the characters in Adobe Illustrator using the original sketch as a guideline. Then, I would paint the lighting and shadow details in Photoshop. After that, the character would be ready to be placed into a background. This process turned out to be much more difficult than initially thought, creating all these complex shaped characters as vector images set me back a few months in extra work, but I managed to finish them all."
"I do all the artwork in my stories, as well as the writing. I do get a little feedback on my creations by asking my family what they think of them, and they do help a tremendous amount. The artwork is very important to me. I made sure in this book that everything looked as perfect as I could make it. I even tried something different in this release in the fact that I also attempted to make the text in the book more visually pleasing to read. Switching to digital art helped my process immensely as with traditional art a very simple mistake on the art sometimes can't be undone, rather digitally I have layers and can undo mistakes."
This is Artym's fifth self-published book release, with his first one coming out in 2014. He has been writing and drawing for the last eight years, dating back to his time at St. Timothy High School where Artym said he fell in love with storytelling.
"At the beginning, I loved learning animation, and my original goal was to be a comic book writer or graphic novelist, but I decided my skills with illustration were not up to par with doing so yet," he said. "I did a few illustrations for someone else creating a picture book around 2012, which gave me the idea to starting my own picture books. I figured it would be a great way to learn more about publishing while getting better at illustration and drawing, even my storytelling."
While the young author has received great feedback about his children's books, Artym said he hasn't ruled out trying to write a different genre while also having hopes of starting his own card game, designed and illustrated by himself while also hoping to start a graphic novel series within the next five years.
"I've received amazing feedback from my readers, awesome stories of parents telling me their kids loved my stories, and how they connected with the characters," he said. "It seems people think I've done a good job at showing characters struggles and how they overcome them, to me that's always a great starting place for the basis of my stories. I try to follow the hero arch of storytelling. Sort of follow a basis of: Character is introduced, a conflict arises in the character's life, character chooses to address the conflict, character goes through personal change as a result, and thus character reflects on personal growth. Theses aspects I find are true in life itself."
"I do, however, want to head towards more serious stories, with more mature-natured themes. I imagine my audience being teens and young adults for those particular narratives. There's a graphic novel story I've been piecing together since high school that I want to be a long series some day, it has action, adventure, romance, and even a little horror aspect to it. June the Jellyfish will be my last children's work for a while as I plan on making my next project something different. Although I'm not opposed to the idea of maybe doing more children's stories later on."
"My plan for getting my graphic novel series to become a reality is I want to build my craft over the next five years and hopefully at the same time build an audience that is caught up with my content, and when I feel ready I will start it. I plan to do this by building an online community. I'm going to create art videos on a YouTube channel and try to produce regular content that is entertaining and educational based around art."
Those interested in purchasing one of Artym's books can find him every Saturday at the Cochrane Farmers' Market or can on social media at his Facebook page ArtymArts or DeviDraw on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.