A lifelong resident of East Granby, Connecticut, situated about halfway between New York and Boston, 26-year-old artist Christy Tortland is a talented and creative illustrator. Her inspiration? Fantasy, folklore, science fiction, and mythology.
Since she was little, Christy always loved fantastic stories. But you could say that Christy’s focus on high-flying artwork started with her parents’ decision to homeschool.
“My mom always bought the most beautiful books for us,” said Christy. The youngster was fascinated by the wide-ranging adventures depicted in Greek mythology, the Chronicles of Narnia, and even comic books: “My icon is Wonder Woman!”
Christy soon realized that she wanted not just to consume children’s literature, but to create it. Homeschooling accommodated this desire. As a homeschooler, Christy said “we could get all our school done by 11, and we had the rest of the day to focus on our creative endeavors: writing and illustrating.”
Christy’s favorite background music consists of classical and instrumental soundtracks, two genres well-suited to rendering larger-than-life characters. Christy’s interpretations of mythological beings are prominent in many of her pieces. Her ultimate dream is to make a living writing about strong, amazing women and illustrating the famous heroines who inspired her when she was a child.
Christy began attending art classes at a young age, and continued her creative studies in college. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Illustration from the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University, and a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults at Simmons University.
Christy interned with publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for nine months, which led to her being hired in March by the same company for a contract job writing children’s board books and middle grades historical fiction novels. Meanwhile, as a freelance artist, Christy has had her artwork featured in many platforms and venues worldwide.
But imagine Christy’s surprise when the Royal Netherlands Air Force 323 TES (Test and Evaluation) Squadron contacted her last October. The unit, which operates out of Edwards Air Force Base in California, uses the mythical huntress Diana as its emblem.
The squadron’s Latin motto is “Impetu Feroci”—”fearless in attack.” They found Christy’s portfolio online while searching for Diana artwork, and asked for permission to put a copy of her piece titled Diana, Goddess of the Hunt on a jet fighter to commemorate their 70th anniversary in November 2019.
Christy had completed her original version of the Roman goddess, Diana the Huntress (aka the Greek goddess Artemis), while she was in college. The empowering image of the goddess of the hunt—her robes billowing, her eyes fixated upon her target, and her bow poised to unleash a gleaming arrow—is fitting for a fighter jet, don’t you think?
The image was modified to fit on the tail of a Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II. Christy is of course thrilled to have her depiction of Diana emblazoned on a military jet. “It’s exhilarating to know my ‘Diana’ is going to be soaring through the skies and breaking the sound barrier,” she said.
When asked about the best part of being an artist, Christy stated, “Seeing your creations come alive,” while adding that there are no solid rules to art. “It’s personal…it’s you…it’s individual.” Her pieces are truly unique with a diverse range of subjects for people of all walks of life – there’s something for everyone.
Christy has a few other goals as yet unfulfilled. In addition to focusing on her illustration career, she has her own fantasy and science-fiction novels that she would like to see published, as well as one graphic novel script.
You can view and purchase Christy’s art at christytortland.com. She is also active on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.