cassandre bolan illustration
Cassandre Bolan portrays strong female fantasy characters that draw on mythology in her illustrations, such as with this piece titled "Artemis." (Cassandre Bolan illustration)

Cassandre Bolan has always been a fan of fantasy and mythology — the stories, the characters, the settings all came to life in her mind. Now, as an artist and illustrator, she brings those images to the page.

"I'm one of those people who has always known what they wanted to do, I guess," Bolan said. "It's just now the pieces are kind of coming together."

The pieces, as Bolan said, are her digital illustration skills, her affinity for fantasy, and her passion for portraying strong female characters in the genre.

Putting it together: While attending Pennsylvania State University, where she received a degree in fine arts, Bolan said a gender studies class had a profound impact on her.

cassandre bolan illustration
Bolan said she is influenced by fantasy and mythology, but likes to add a contemporary feel to her art such as in this piece titled "Azrael's Cig Break." (Cassandre Bolan illustration)

After graduating, Bolan moved to Dubai where she said she witnessed gender discrimination on a first-hand basis.

"Travel always changes you," she said. "I guess I really saw how much it did when I got back (to America)."

Bolan said she recognized that the female archetypes portrayed in fantasy were lacking diversity and often hyper-sexualized. When she launched her brand about a year ago, she said she wanted to combat that stereotype through her illustrations and art.

The reception, she said, has been positive.

"The clients who approach me really identify with my message," Bolan said. "I want these female characters to be strong and diverse — not just pretty. I want them to show another perspective of how women live."

Award: Bolan recently received an L. Ron Hubbard Illustrator of the Future award for her work, and experience that she described as "surreal."

Bolan will be signing copies of her work from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday at Irvin's Books, 2159 White St., York.

"In the end, I want my work to start a conversation," Bolan said.

— Reach Amy Peiffer at apeiffer@yorkdispatch.com.

cassandre bolan award
Bolan was named a 2014 winner of the L. Ron Hubbard Illustrators of the Future Contest. (Galaxy Press)

Book signing event

Authors and illustrators will hold book signings from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday at Irvin's Books, 2159 White St., York.

Those who will be signing include:

•M.A. Stone

•Judy Wolfman

•Cassandre Bolan

•Vickie Fisher

•Demi Stevens

•Rachel Walter

•D.C. McLaughlin

•John Benedict

•Information: (717) 843-2947 or www.irvinsbooks.com.