Interview and photo by Jason Setnyk
Cornwall, Ontario – Through his clever wit, vivid illustrations, and incisive observations, cartoonist James Lapierre possess the ability to distill concepts into a single frame, delivering impactful messages that resonate with his audience.
James Lapierre has traveled many artistic roads; from a cartoonist with his first published work at the age of 14, a 30-year-plus run as a political cartoonist for The Seaway News, a featured caricaturist in Perch magazine, a storybook illustrator for the children’s book “Potatoes and Tomatoes,” logo designer for a kombucha company in Sarnia, Ontario, comic book illustrator and publisher with his creator-owned “Nonja: Ninja For Hire” and recently, a painter of both portraits and animals and nature.
Five Questions with The Seeker
1 – What inspires you to create art?
“As hokey as it may sound, I believe life inspires me to create. It could be anything from a funny situation, a take on a particular subject, or seeing something that strikes me as something I’d like to immortalize. I see art as a creative outlet, similar to a musician composing and singing a song or an actor portraying a character in a play. It’s a form of expression.”
2 – Do you complete one piece at a time or work on multiple pieces at once?
“Usually, multiples at once. For instance, I may begin work on up to three oil paintings in one session, then on to other paintings that await finer details while the other three dry. I may also switch gears and work on my weekly editorials, commission pieces, or graphic novels; that way, I feel I am not only making progress on many pieces, but I’m always creating.”
3 – Can you tell us about the best reaction someone has had to your artwork?
“I can think of three instances. First, being awarded 3rd place in 2015 and 2018 for “Best Cartoonist” by the Ontario Community Newspaper Association for my editorials. Second, being forwarded a letter from the Ontario chapter of the Terry Fox Foundation stating how one of my pieces was discussed at one of their workshops. Third, having gifted a portrait painting to Senator Bernadette Clement, who informed me it would be placed and hung in her Ottawa chamber office.”
4 – How has your artwork changed from when you first started?
“Well, I hope it’s changed since when I first started. Joking aside, I’d like to think my artwork has evolved from something that may have been looked upon as “simple” to something that has developed into my own style with time, practice, and patience. Even though I worked on my artwork, I don’t feel complacent; I’m still trying different techniques and getting inspired to try new styles. I’m a “work in progress” artist.”
5 – Any advice for artists just starting?
“I would say two things: First, keep at it; you may not like your first or even your twenty-sixth piece (as artists, we’re our own worst critics at times), but over time, if you continue creating and working on it, you’ll be amazed at how far you’ve progressed in your craft. Second, enjoy yourself- art, like life, doesn’t have to be so stringent; there’s no one set way to create. Start with the basics, build from there with your unique slant, and see where your art takes you. The road to art is an adventure. It has been for me.”