Creating Visual Diamonds with Aletheia Délivré

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Drawing by Aletheia Délivré

This interview is part of a series that focuses on creators who live at the intersection of writing and art. The goal is to provide inspiration and practical tips for anyone looking to add more visuals to their work.

Aletheia Délivré has been creating some fascinating visuals on Twitter. The below visual in particular is what made me an instant fan of her style.

Her illustrations are full of personality and tell a story, which I love to see in my Twitter feed. She also chooses the best quotes and ideas to draw (that Ira Glass quote above is a classic). 

I wanted to understand more about her background and reason for making these visuals, and Aletheia was kind enough to answer some questions for us.

What was your path to visual creativity?

Pen and paper have always been my favorite. As a teenager, I’d draw my own children’s stories, print my own magazines, and make everyone’s birthday cards.

To help me process complex concepts in university (I was a biochemistry major), I leaned into drawing to help me break things down into understandable and connectable ideas.

Drawing things out has the generation effect for me — it greatly improves my ability to remember things.

Even in storyboarding and designing today, I always reach for paper (even if they don’t look very pretty!)

I like to associate visual work with intention, so that’s been my latest experiment.

Your recent visuals on Twitter are so good and have a great mix of words and art. What made you start creating them in that style?

I started using Twitter more regularly in late 2020. Tweets, threads, newsletters, blogs, articles, podcasts, etc. are all part of a giant firehose of information. It’s overwhelming for me. In that stream, I’ll sometimes find diamonds worth remembering and want to capture them.

Combining words with art was an attempt to capture the “beauty” of a thought, a quote from a book, an idea, a concept, an inspiration, a feeling.

Ultimately, now it feels like I’m curating and creating my own collection of diamonds.

In terms of style, I think of my work as “art” rather than visuals because to me it’s more about the soul of the artist than about the punchline. This is in large part why I hand-draw, and why every idea I draw is sort of personal to me. In that sense, the art is almost like a stewardship: from me to you.

“Art is what we call the thing an artist does.

It’s not the medium or the oil or the price or whether it hangs on a wall or you eat it. What matters, what makes it art, is that the person who made it overcame the resistance, ignored the voice of doubt and made something worth making. Something risky. Something human.

Art is not in the eye of the beholder. It’s in the soul of the artist.”

—Seth Godin

What tools do you like to use for creation and publishing?

iPad Pro and Apple Pencil 1, on the Procreate app. For colouring, I like playing with the opacity levels on the water-colour brushes in Procreate.

I often get inspired while out running, so I have to credit the Notes app on my iPhone for safeguarding some otherwise fleeting sketch ideas.

Are there any creators who work at the intersection of writing and art that inspire and motivate you?

I love the imaginatively simple style of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (author of Le Petit Prince). I find it both intentional and elegant. Behind his work there’s also an ethos that I deeply identify with. He wrote and drew all of Le Petit Prince. The idea that writers can draw their own stories, aka be their own visual interpreters regardless of skill level, is authentic and empowering.

In terms of modern day inspiration, probably Liz&Mollie. Janis Ozolins is also an awesome friend and great source of inspiration.

Finally, I also love Aaron Aalto’s zest for sketching and his audacious, experimental spirit. The world needs so much more of that.

What advice would you give anyone who wants to start (or continue) adding visual creativity to their work?

If you haven’t started yet, I think the most important step you can take is to start. If you’re continuing, the most sustainable attitude you can have is to keep experimenting shamelessly. I’m still in the latter boat too! And don’t be afraid to “steal” ideas to make them yours.

Being visually creative with your work does a number of helpful things: 1) It forces you to think about and see your work from different angles;  2) It’s an effective way of storytelling and communicating your ideas with impact; 3) It helps you to practice letting go of your ego; 4) It makes you relatable to others (if you’re into making friends, of course).

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