Today we’d like to introduce you to Brooke VanDevelder.
Brooke, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I grew up very quickly. I was an only child with little exposure to children my age, supported by very hard working parents. Unfortunately one struggled with severe alcoholism and addictive behaviors. At 15, their behaviors eventually led to divorce. My formative years were overall happy ones peppered with weeks of intense sadness, confusion and tough conversation above my maturity level. I was left alone with someone who wasn’t taking care of themselves and created consistent psychological trauma and chaos. Instead of having a sibling to experience these tough years with, I had refuge in quiet solitude. This fostered prolonged periods of intense creativity my favorite being art. Through high school and college, I spent the next several years dedicated to academic study in fine art and illustration.
I left school ready to take on the world only to be confronted with major anxiety and depression. The linear trajectory of academic life no longer applied to my new found freedom. I felt left in an ocean of options afraid to swim too far in any direction and tethered to a mountain of debt. I retreated into myself for a while, working off student loans and saving money for some international travel. My original ambitions of becoming some overnight successful artist faded and the call to a different breed of adventure beckoned. Armed with a recent diagnosis of anxiety and depression, I felt the need to push myself through my fears in the most extreme ways I could think. The world of travel offered me constant exposure to my social anxieties, fear of uncharted territory and worst of all making mistakes.
After a couple of years of non-stop travel, I had successfully traversed through every kind of obstacle I imagined while exposing myself to a larger world outside myself and outside of western culture.
Coming back home, I couldn’t remove those experiences from myself, nor did I want to. They became assimilated and eventually building blocks to the next phase in art-making and entrepreneurship. My exposure shaped the content of my work and I felt compelled to celebrate the diversity of culture and the human condition.
While I still have a very humble following, the ongoing momentum created enough traction to SLOWLY move in a decided direction. I now travel internationally 1/3 of the year while creating work opportunities that allow me the freedom to live nomadically.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
A heroine’s journey may begin with happy accidents but the vast majority is paved with determined focus and hard work. It’s a game of stamina. Every 6 months or so, check in with yourself, take an objective view of your life and decide what aspects of yourself you’re not willing to compromise. When you have a firm understanding of your pillars of truth build opportunities that support them, the details will eventually follow.
Major change, while difficult and terrifying, enables you to shed outgrown skin and create stronger footholds for your next leg of the journey. Feel liberated by these moments. Seek support and advice from your loved ones along the way because we can’t make our dreams happen 100% alone.
Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I’m a freelance illustrator and artist. Many aren’t familiar with what this entails. While it’s not entirely fine art, its also not graphic design. A happy amalgamation somewhere in the middle. Illustrations are employed when words don’t quite cut it. The world that works in fast forward relies on bite-sized chunks of knowledge. The imagery acts as an attention-grabbing and quick representation of ambiguous or complex concepts. While photography can be helpful, these concepts cannot be taken as a picture. They require more delicate adjustments and surrealistic worlds that nuance feeling the writer or project wants to express.
I work as a visual storyteller and problem solver. My work has been applied to a multitude of projects such as book covers, magazine articles, album covers, and posters. I can also be found in galleries, murals throughout Denver and in the homes of private commissioners.
I work with other like-minded entrepreneurs to help make their dreams and ideas come to life. If someone is struggling to pinpoint how to communicate their concepts, I can step in and help fill in that gap. I have worked on anything from posters illustrating complex historical concepts for DU textbooks to whimsical menu designs for family-run businesses along with larger corporate illustrations and demos for NBCU.
While I’ve experienced a breadth of diverse projects, my passion is connecting and working with people on an intimate level. I love being pulled into unbelievably inventive and revelatory ideas people develop and assisting them as a catalyst to drive home these ideas to the masses. I am entrusted to transform nebulous ideas/thoughts into tangible representations. Getting to see peoples gratitude and excitement when their ‘baby’ takes its next steps is the freaking coolest. I’m so fortunate.
What sets me apart is deep empathy. Our characteristics that drive us are often two sides of one coin. While my empathy has caused me much distress and anxiety, they also carry deep connections and accurate interpretations of people. I confront every new project with a deep connection and custom care to ensure it reflects the heart and soul of my client’s needs as if they were my own.
Do you have a lesson or advice you’d like to share with young women just starting out?
Start narrowing down the things you don’t want to do first. Be patient and don’t compare yourself to others! Life is a game of stamina. It takes 10,000 hours of intentional practice to master something. Put in the work and position yourself so the right people are seeing your work. If you stick to something long enough, people will start to notice you and the traction will build.
Remember, you’re a perfect amalgamation of different experiences making you one of a kind. Share that with the world.
You are loved and you can do this!!!
- If you are working to get a project, company or product off the ground please reach me at Brooke.VanDevelder@gmail.com. I’d love to help your baby take its next steps. Send a short description of your project and I will give you a quote.
- Prints available from $30-$45. Visit my shop: https://bvandevelder.bigcartel.com/
- Website: www.VanDevelder.com
- Email: Brooke.VanDevelder@gmail.com
- Instagram: @bvandevelder
- Facebook: Facebook.com/brooke.vandevelder
- Twitter: Twitter.com/VanDevelderArt
Zoriah Miller www.zoriah.com