Interview and Photo by Jason Setnyk
Cornwall, Ontario – Creativity has greatly influenced Frank Burelle’s life. He’s been a professional cartoonist since 1991 and has taught cartooning for as long. He’s had thousands of students and has taught in Cornwall, Ottawa, and Peterborough. In addition, he’s a documentary filmmaker and professional photographer. But his creativity doesn’t end there; he’s a sculptor, toy designer, and animator.
Also, he sings! His love of musical theatre has taken him from working behind the scenes to the spotlight on stage with the Seaway Valley Theatre Company. He’s been in four productions so far: Beauty and the Beast (Gaston), The Drowsy Chaperone (Aldolpho), Mama Mia (Sam), and recently as Captain Von Trapp in the Sound of Music.
Five Questions with The Seeker
1 – What are your preferred artistic mediums, and what do you like about them?
“For cartooning, I love working digitally. The versatility and ease of workflow are amazing. I still love grabbing a pencil and sketchbook once and a while, but digital illustration is my fave. Photography is close to my heart as well. To be able to snap a moment in time has always been incredibly appealing to me. And, of course, there’s music and singing. When voices join together in song, it almost never fails to move me.”
2 – What is your artistic education and background? Are you self-taught, did you do an apprenticeship, or go to art school?
“I was mostly self-taught at first and then studied animation with a focus on character design at Algonquin College. But the reality is I never stop learning. I study the work of other artists all the time. I’ll see an illustration that I love and immediately start trying to figure out how they did it.”
3- Tell us about your creative process. Do you plan each piece out, or does the art take shape as you work?
“It always starts with an idea. I have an embarrassing number of sketchbooks full of ideas and concepts. Then the idea moves to the tablet, and I loosely block out the main shapes and colours. Then it slowly gets refined until it ends with the addition of the smaller and subtler details.”
4 – What are the challenges that you face as an artist?
“The single greatest challenge for me is how my mental health affects my creativity. The reverse can also be said; that my creativity, or the lack of, affects my mental health. I have sketchbooks full of ideas and concepts, the skills and tools to execute them, and the mental roadblocks I have that prevent these ideas from seeing the light of day can be very frustrating. But, I try not to beat myself up too much over it.”
5 – Do you have any long-term plans or goals for your artwork?
“Creativity will always be a part of who I am. I will continue to seek out creative opportunities when I can. I will continue to take part in musical theatre and help bring those amazing stories to the stage. I’m also hoping to unleash some of those ideas and concepts I spoke of earlier into the world.”
See Frank’s artistic work on Facebook.