L.A. billboard project puts artist in the sky

Julian Van Dyke works professionally as an artist. He infuses a love of acting and activism through everything he touches. He is passionate about weaving artistic inspiration to both children and adults alike.

Photo courtesy of Julian Van Dyke

By Rina Risper

The New Citizens Press

LANSING, MI – Artist, actor, author, and activist Julian Van Dyke’s artwork will be on billboards. This giant leap comes after a competitive contest held by the Arts Council of Greater Lansing. The contest was designed to give greater exposure to art throughout the city.

Van Dyke is passionate about art, and he believes that making art accessible to all is one of the best things you can do for your community. Now more people passing by will have access to the beauty and meaning that comes from Van Dyke’s art.

When Van Dyke was 3 years old, growing up in Benton Harbor, MI, his mother, who was a teacher at the time, started his love for art by having him draw pictures of Santa Claus.

His close-knit family and community encouraged him to draw and paint by providing him with art accessories, including his hometown barber. From then on, he honed his skills by practicing and attending classes at Lansing Community College. He both drew and painted as he matured while keeping childhood memories alive on each canvas, like in his paintings In Prayer, Father and Daughters, and Front Yard Gathering.

Actor

Artist Julian Van Dyke is also an actor and recently performed in the play “Fabulation, or the Re-Education of Undine.” Van Dyke has previously collaborated with the Riverwalk Theatre on its adaptation of the young adult novel “Bud, Not Buddy.” During our recent conversation, he did not want to focus on himself but on his castmates. Among the 10 other cast members, all of whom play multiple roles, are Riverwalk veterans Ny’Kieria Blocker, Janell Hall and Van Dyke; and newcomers Lorenzo Lopez and Norrlyn-Michael Allen, who came from Los Angeles to appear in the show.

Author

Van Dyke has published an educational and inclusive children’s book that explores the nuances of bullying and teaches young people about its negative impact on others. Guided by colorful illustrations, “Does This Make You a Bully” employs whimsical rhymes to introduce kids to different types of bullying, both in-person and online, such as teasing, physically harming, gossiping about, or threatening others. Van Dyke’s book promotes empathy for those bullied and guides children to understand how bullying can emotionally damage others.

Activist

Van Dyke visits schools like North School Elementary and is a champion for the anti-bullying campaign. The book is an excellent tool for teachers, parents, counselors, school administrators, guardians, and other adults who work with children, “Does This Make You a Bully” uses illustrations of animals to ensure children from all backgrounds can connect with the characters and simplifies difficult conversations about bullying so that kids can better grasp its long-term negative impact. “I wrote this book because it is one of the main conversations that is contemporary in our schools today,” Van Dyke said. “The key messages I hope to give direction to through my work are have respect for one another, provide support to those in need through reading and storytelling, spend time exploring our history, and have fun! ‘Does This Make You a Bully’ is perfect for anyone who loves to read, color, write, and listen to stories.”

“Does This Make You a Bully” encourages kids to spread love to their friends, classmates, and family members so they can build lasting social connections and community instead of tearing others down. The book is available through Xlibris, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon. Van Dyke said, “Be inspired, find the time to carve the gift of talent that has been given to you. Never give up showing your talent and let others see and hear your voice.”

For more information, call 1-800-969-0098 or send correspondence to Van Dyke Art, P.O. Box 27461, Lansing, MI 48909. Email at [email protected]