We had the good fortune of connecting with Adrian Virlan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Adrian, what’s your definition for success?
Everybody could define success in their own way and they would all be right. We probably imagine success as the ultimate result of a long or short term process of intense energy and time investment. I think it’s a concept with one of the widest range of meanings out there. Success can mean anything depending on the perspective. Two sales men were sent to a poor country to study the market landscape over there. They were considering the possibility of expanding the shoes company they were working at. They came back with different answers despite having been to the exact same place. One of them said “Nobody wears shoes here, we are wasting our time”, while the other said “Nobody wears shoes here, this is our chance”. To one of them, that trip was a waste of time and a failure. To the other, a business opportunity, and therefore an absolutely promising chance for success. Despite the already existing universal definitions, I still believe the meaning of success is deeply rooted in the most personal way in each of us. To me, success is a story of overcoming adversity. A story of adaptation to odd circumstances. It can range from the lowest to the highest scale stories out there. Success is success regardless of it’s complexity. I don’t think it can be measured objectively because it always depends on the context. If we think of it like an iceberg, the part that’s submerged underwater is what supports that success we all see above. That story behind any success is directly proportional to the meaning it has to the victor. To some people success is the rewarding end scene from a story of consecutive failures. Therefore, it is balanced. If success doesn’t have a price, it would not feel rewarding at all. If success doesn’t take any effort, it doesn’t feel like success. It can’t be appreciated. For everything that’s created, something else is obliterated. As above, so below. When something is won, something else is lost. That’s is the beauty I see in this wonderful balance of transformation. It’s everywhere around us. Positive and negative, life and death, victory and defeat. However, the definition of success can change. Nothing really stays the same forever. Inevitably, our perspective will evolve as we expose ourselves to uncertainty and outgrow our protective shell. The comfort zone we take refuge in will no longer be able to hold the amount of new lessons we keep adding to our knowledge. Eventually, our definition of success will also change as well. To me, success used to mean to learn concept art for the sake of getting hired at some giant company and live a crazy adventure as I dive into the corporate world, periodically changing locations from one continent to another every few years. Not necessarily out of pure passion for creating art that I am proud of, but to get a title, a label under my name. Something to display the image I had of myself in front of other people. Searching for external validation definitely caused a lot of stress. It definitely led me to compare myself to the disproportionately wrong examples, entirely out of my league. And it sure made me blind to the reality around me. I was surrounded with opportunities. But I took pride in my stubbornness and chose to keep hitting that metaphorical brick wall. It wasn’t until much later, when all the steps in my career as an artist led me to a magical moment of self realization. Like many other artists, I wanted to create my own personal project. All I saw around were successful authors creating their own worlds and stories. I tried so hard, nothing ever came out. I seemed to be more successful at creating for someone else… I just kept practicing my craft and never gave up. Perhaps focusing so much on the big goals I had in mind, like getting a job at a huge company or moving to a different country, distracted me from the sense of failure I experienced for not being able to start any interesting personal project on my own… I had no idea about the power of the subconscious. I only needed a spark. These things are always closer than you think. And that, I believe, is unique to every soul. The call for adventure exists in many ways. We all have something lying somewhere in our path waiting for us to get to it so we can get catapulted into an unexpected and successful adventure. This call might get us started, but it is eventually us who take all the steps. We drive the vehicle. Many circumstances from different areas of life led me to come up with an idea that would settle the foundation of my entire universe of Hevenurion. It starts with a simple idea, then you start connecting floating dots that have been lying around on the very far back of your mind for ages. And all of a sudden, all those “failures” from the past unveil their true meaning. You now see the iceberg in its totality. Every single struggle leads here, to the wonderful moment where I realize I am not only working on my own project, but I am creating out of pure passion, out of absolute joy. All because of MEANING. I can’t explain with words what it feels like to be able to develop your own project as a reflection of your inner self, your vision, your story, your world. It’s just magical. It’s been almost 3 years already since I started, but the more I think about it the more I realize this whole journey began very very long ago… It brings infinite joy to me. Fortunately I am close to my loved ones, all healthy and well. Family plays a substantial role in such an odyssey. The project is far from over. I can’t see any finish line and honestly, I don’t think I want to. I can’t measure the limits of what I am creating. I just see endless possibilities that run so far into the future I can’t even see the end of it. I was quite reluctant to share any information about it in the early stages. Overprotective, insecure, constantly worried about foreign opinions, I never shared anything online. I wasn’t even sure what exactly the story was about to begin with. That only led me to keep it even more secret. But where’s the joy if you can’t share something you are deeply excited about? I slowly learned that this perfectionist behavior never leads anywhere, in fact it just keeps you where you are. Think of it as if there were like two Adrians. Two different aspects of myself in an eternal conflict. One was extremely sure of what he was doing, absolutely passionate about the whole concept, and then there was the other one, the Adrian who was terrified of what others might say about it, mostly imagining horrible opinions, afraid of being judged or shamed because maybe they think the idea sucks. After overcoming lots of self doubt and realizing how limiting that mentality was, I felt truly liberated as I gave in to the excitement and love I have for Hevenurion. The spark was turning into a titanic bonfire that can’t be extinguished even if I wanted to. I don’t know where this project will land in the future, I have no idea what is going to come out as, a book? An animated short film? A movie? A videogame? A board game? A novel? That doesn’t worry me at all, as long as I can work on it and enjoy a healthy life surrounded by the ones who matter to me the most. This is my definition of success, to be able to work on my passion, irradiating this enthusiastic energy, hopefully encouraging all of you to also embrace your own path and not give in to artificial goals. Trust your genuine intuition and be yourself. This is what success means to me.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My interests are deeply rooted in Myth and Legend I would say. Always swimming in this ocean of ancient cultures, science, religion, metaphysics and many other food for thought related things. It is a constant search for answers to everything I am curious about. I find it fascinating to learn more about who we are and understand our core nature. Even if I am just barely scratching the surface of such truth, it greatly inspires me at a personal level I can’t even describe. I just resonate so much with this burning desire to learn the occult. No wonder everything I do is fantasy related. Movies, videogames, books, they all help and contribute to my inspiration in their own way. But I eventually rely on reality for my creative power, since it beats any fiction in my opinion. I was studying graphic design back in the school days, when I stumbled across the industry of concept art. It suddenly opened an endless stream of possibilities for me as it was perfectly matching my passion for this craft. I landed my first job at a small videogame studio nearby. Learned a lot and made lots of contacts during my time there. What an adventure. Small teams are such a different experience. I later got to coordinate part of the team and lead projects from an artistic point of view. After that, I jumped into the crazy world of freelancing. I would say this is when I learned the most. Both in terms of art and business. I can tell I’ve grown a lot personally now that I look back. A few gigs here and there, nothing serious. Got to work on a friend’s project for a few months, practicing my skills and learning some more about storytelling. Then I started to join art competitions. Not much noise compared to now. But then, I started to get all the attention online. I made a new youtube channel, started posting more on my instagram, went to art events and boom, first big freelance gig. I was so excited. I got to illustrate an entire book for a role playing game called Nahui Ollin. Plus it was written by a famous author in that field. A story based on ancient civilizations from America, magic, creatures, etc. Basically, my jam. At the same time I was also invited to work on another project. A videogame based on similar themes of myth and fantasy. But prior to all these sudden opportunities, I was taking my first steps in developing first original IP: Hevenurion. Everything seemed to happen simultaneously. It was an overwhelmingly positive feel. When it rains it pours I guess. I welcomed all those events. I have been contributing to many other projects since then. Some of them only required me for a brief time, some of them a little longer. Long term, short term, concept art, illustration, it didn’t matter to me. I was down to learn more and get experience. It definitely felt different knowing that I had my own universe in the making. I was so amazed by the welcoming and encouraging feedback from people when I first started sharing Hevenurion on my social media, YouTube, etc. It is pretty unknown for now, but you will definitely hear about it in the future. And I hope you enjoy it as much as I do creating it.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I don’t think I enjoy the city as much as the mountain or the beach. I guess nature is where I get all the cool ideas from. It’s a different feeling. Fortunately we have tons of cool spots around here. Very diverse range of places. However, there are really interesting buildings downtown as well as some really nice restaurants, and bars, and shops, and… This place is for everybody. The weather is amazing on the east coast of Spain. Summers can get a little too hot sometimes, but it’s perfect in general. There is a place for you here regardless of your interests like fashion, food, art, nature, etc. Still can’t really decide between the beach and the mountain though. Different sides of the same coin. It’s where I find peace and tranquility. Those calm vibes are what drive me when I feel lost or stressed. There’s something about them that helps a lot with mental clarity. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
First thing to come to my mind is my mother. I would not be able to do any of this without her. She consistently encourages me to keep walking down this path as a creator and to embrace my talent, proving with her own example that you can accomplish anything you set yourself up to. Of course as I already mentioned, family is a fundamental pillar that supports my success, and my lovely dog is no exception. We’ve had pets before, but I have never experienced such a deep connection. He is not a pet, he is a soul companion, another family member. The main source of inspiration for the world of Hevenurion, a story where he plays the role of a mystical creature called Belthar. True friends support your success and I am proud to have met such wonderful people in my journey. Picked me up when I fell down, cheered me up during my darkest times and celebrated my victories regardless of their circumstances. You all know who you are. Big respect to you! Special thanks to my bro Dom Lay for the shoutout! I owe this interview to him 🙂
Hevenurion – Adrian Virlan