Heylon Wolter is your quintessential “starving artist” but certainly not for a lack of talent or ambition. Heylon, 26, currently has 4 jobs and is so busy working to pay the bills, he doesn’t have any spare time to promote his art or find the kind of work he is really passionate about. Heylon is a dedicated comic artist who sacrificed a lot to put himself through art school, including having no choice but to live out of his car and couch surf for a semester. Although he says he would rather be poor and doing something he loves than miserable and making a ton of money, Heylon is the kind of guy who really deserves to make it big in the comic world. The graphic novel he is working on with a friend – Apricity – could be the thing that launches his career to the next level.
Heylon was named by his father after Van Halen (Heylon doesn’t know if he was trying to be extra eccentric or if his dad was just a bad speller). He is interested in his pirate ancestry and loves the smell of homemade cookies. Read more from our interview with Heylon and check out his website for more amazing comic art!
Why did you move from Janesville to Madison?
I moved up to Madison to get an education. And to get out of the house. My mom was always saying, “I know you’re good art and everything, but you should find a backup. So IT was my backup, but I found out that I’d rather be poor doing art than be miserable doing something that will pay well. I was homeless for a semester. I did have a place at my parents’ in Janesville, but I wouldn’t have been able to go to school and drive back every day. So I lived in my car in Madison during the week and went back on the weekends. It paid off because I graduated. It took an extra year to get through school but I got through it. It was a big sacrifice but it was worth it.
When did you get into comic art?
My mom always supported our creativity. Whenever we had a drawing she was interested in it. My brother was actually the one who got me into comic books. Gen 13 and X-Men were the titles that we really got into. It’s always been a big part of my life. I’ve always drawn. Always. And I always got my comics at Kryptonite (Kryptonite Kollectibles in Janesville.) And I ended up getting a job there.
What is your favorite place in the world?
New Orleans. Because that’s where my ancestry knowledge kind of starts. My great great great grandfather was a pirate who sailed under Laffitte. He was from Italy. He was kicked out of Italy and was sent to the same island as Napolean. From there he became a pirate and he came to America. And here’s the badass part, during the War of 1812, Andrew Jackson offered to pardon all pirates who would help end the war because they didn’t have a large enough Navy. They helped to defend America. My grandmother was the one who found out originally. And from then it’s been kind of a teamwork thing, discovering new information.
What was the first tape/record/CD you remember buying?
I don’t want to talk about the first album because it’s kind of embarrassing. (Badgering from me) It was the “Batman Forever” soundtrack. It was a tape and I think I was 8 or 10.
What is your favorite smell?
My all-time favorite smell my girlfriend can definitely tell you – is homemade cookies. I’m a sucker for home baked cookies.
What makes you angry?
My biggest pet peeve is people saying they are going to be somewhere and then just blow it off like it’s no big deal.
If you had to choose one, would you rather be rich while you are alive or famous after you die?
Leave a legacy. I always want to leave a legacy. I want to inspire people to do more. That was the one thing with comic books to me, they were always inspirational and inspired me to draw. The context of being famous – whether it’s comic books or not – I don’t really care. One of my favorite musicians had said that he doesn’t necessarily want to inspire other musicians. I mean it’s fine if he does. But he thinks it would be really cool if his song is playing in a kitchen and some chef made up some this brand new phenomenal recipe. So the flow of inspiration, getting people to challenge themselves and find that spark within themselves to do more.
What would your 15-year-old self think of you?
He’d think I’m awesome. My skill set has totally evolved. I remember looking at comic books when I was that age and thinking “God I wish I could draw like that” and now I can. And the only thing I’m not doing is the comic book itself. And I would be doing that if I wasn’t so worried about where my next rent check is coming from.
What kind of shampoo do you use?
My girlfriend works at a salon, so whatever she buys me. It’s Redken actually.
Have you noticed a difference in your hair since you started using fancy shampoo?
Name one of your guilty pleasures besides using Redken shampoo:
It’s that I’m a gamer. I play a lot of games, I know a lot about games. It’s just kind of something I fell into. A lot of professionals look down on gamers.
What rule do you enjoy breaking?
I don’t know…all of them. If there is a rule I always question “why.” I had a discussion the other day with someone about traffic laws and he was like “This rule is dumb,” and I was like, “Well that actually makes a lot of sense.” So I’m perfectly fine following that law.
What is your favorite pair of shoes you have ever owned?
It’s a brand called Magnum. They are like police shoes. The ones that I got in high school were my first pair of combat boots and they lasted me four years. And they were stealth. That was the name they were. And when I was a kid, I always love sneaking around. So I’d sneak around my house and everything, and the boots were really stealthy. They were quiet and lightweight. Actually in high school I ran the mile in them when I forgot my tennis shoes once.
What makes someone an artist?
It’s hard to say what makes someone an artist. I guess it’s like the difference between an artist and a designer. A designer serves a purpose. An artist questions a purpose.