A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to write up my story of how I got into illustration and why I do it. It was posted up on another blog a few days ago. You can read it on the other blog HERE if you wish.
Here’s what I wrote.
My name is Dale Vande Griend and about two years ago I decided to pick up drawing again. I found some tutorials online and I went about practicing and teaching myself how to illustrate. Illustrating came back to me quite naturally and I really enjoyed teaching myself a new art form. The passion I had as a child, doodling on scraps of paper, quickly returned. Now, my day job requires me to travel to India a couple times a year and over the past couple of years I have fallen in love with the art and culture of this incredible country. Indian henna and mandala designs soon started filling my sketchbook along with Banyan trees, sarees, and rickshaws.
As my illustration skills slowly improved, I found myself reading a lot of graphic novels and comic books so I could study the art and storytelling. I began to love how stories were told using this art form. Ideas began swirling in my mind as I searched for some kind of story that I could tell using the graphic novel format.
At this same time I took a trip for work to film a story in India about a group of ladies who were trafficked or born into the sex trade in their city. I had heard a little about trafficking, but this trip prompted me to research and learn more about it. I read a bunch of books and articles about the subject and started following traffick-battling organizations online. I did what I could by sharing and raising awareness through Facebook and Twitter. An organization called Tiny Hands International loved my passion for battling sex trafficking and saw my illustration work and asked if I would make some art for them. Of course, I did.
Tiny hands International battles injustice in two ways. They fight trafficking and they have children’s ministries. They are a wonderful organization and they are doing hard work, but they are making a difference in people’s lives. Check them out and find a way that you can become involved.
Suddenly the idea I had been searching for popped into my head. It was really a culmination of all these experiences I had had since I took up illustration again that led to this idea.
I would write and illustrate a graphic novel to raise awareness about sex trafficking.
I set out writing the story. It was going to take place in a place I had come to know and love, India. It was going to be both an engaging narrative and a lesson in sex trafficking. I also wanted the ending to be real and hard-hitting. I wanted it to make an impact on the reader. One they couldn’t ignore.
It was at both the easiest and the hardest thing I’ve ever had to write. Easy in that I had an immense passion to get this story out there. Hard in that this is an emotional and heartbreaking travesty that happens in our world, and I had created a little girl who had to suffer and endure it.
Even though she isn’t real, her story is. It’s the story of MILLIONS of girls across the world, forced into this horrible life, unable to escape. They need a voice and they need people to understand their story and to get up and do something about it. My graphic novel will be part of that voice.
This is why this story has been easy to write. It needs to be told and it needs to be heard. And through my experiences, my skills, and most of all my passion, this story must come from me. This story is part of my calling.
This is my challenge to all of you reading this. Find your passion. Find your calling. You do this by trying new things or picking up old ones. Experience life and keep an eye out for that thing that drives and motivates you. Find where your skills, experiences, and passions intersect and there you will find your calling.
Don’t ignore that call.
I challenge you to make an effort to follow that calling, pursue those passions and help make this world a better place.
My graphic novel is titled ‘Doll’ and you can follow the progress of the story here.
You can actually read the first full chapter of the story. Check it out!
You can also follow my facebook page and Instagram page.
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/exodusillustration/
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/exodusillustration/