Who I am

Jim "TheCartoonGuy" Graves, Circa 1971

Just a skinny kid from Rexdale, who always wanted to draw cartoons!  

I've been drawing for as long as memory serves. Drawing for me is a bit like breathing, as in it's not really a choice so much as it's something I NEED to do. By profession I am a visual development artist/designer, published Illustrator and very enthusiastic Educator, based in Toronto, Ontario Canada. 🇨🇦

As far as "drawing" as a way of life goes, it was at a very early age (like 4 or 5 years old, early) when I first acquired my passion for drawing cartoons and illustrating the world around me. Whether it was animated or in print, I was hooked! I spent countless hours as a child drawing and watching cartoons.

I drew and drew and drew some more. Then drew some more (you get it)

If you were looking for me when I was a kid, you’d likely find me one of two places: in the basement drawing up a storm while watching cartoons, attempting to mimic as best I could, my favorite cartoon character's voices. Saturday mornings were the best! The other place would have been in my room with my nose wedged between the pages of a comic book. 

(I was a pale kid)


My Mum (a school teacher) always encouraged me to doodle. My Dad (A very talented amateur artist, himself) kept me in paper the best he could, (which was no minor feat people) and my sister always took great interest in my drawing and encouraged me. She also taught me to sign everything and to be proud of my work. I was very lucky to have such a supportive family. They all got behind me and allowed me to do ma thang!

Fast forward through junior school, middle school (that wonderful time when all your teachers tell you NOT to draw in your notebooks)... you’d find me drawing in ALL my notebooks and on pretty much anything i could put my pencil to. After "surviving" middle school you'd find me at The Etobicoke School of the Arts majoring in Visual Arts for five years. 

It was during high school that I worked for the Aquatics division of Parks & Recreation for the [then] City of Etobicoke as lifeguard and water safety instructor/ trainer/ supervisor. I taught a wide range of swimming lessons from Moms & tots to Bronze cross, NLS and Leaders/ Instructors. I was really sad when it was time to grow up and join the real world. :(

Four years of drawing and painting later, and a diploma from O.C.A.D. (and a short and underwhelming stint at Sheridan), I was now more than well armed with what seemed like a million years of concentrated drawing and design under my belt, and most importantly, a ton of enthusiasm!
.. I was ready to hit the ground running!

The plan was to work. And work I have!!!... 

Once finished in the classroom, (or so I thought) I went out on my own doing freelance illustration and character design for everything ranging from kids books/ magazines, to animation, advertising/ marketing to Vis-dev and story art. My slogan: You name it, I `Toon it!"   

I always loved working with clients on new projects. But something was missing.

Remember how I mentioned earlier that I really missed teaching? Fast-forward again to December 2003, when an incredible opportunity presented itself in the form of [then] SCA Chair, Jed Decory offering me an incredible opportunity to interview for a position teaching Character design in Seneca's Animation Arts Center. I jumped at the opportunity!! (Thanks Jed)

The following Monday the late Larry DeFlorio (r.i.p), then AAC Coordinator, called and suggested we talk character design. After 19 years, I think we can safely say that the meeting went well!

I started teaching part-time at Seneca in January 2004 and since 2006, have been privileged to work full-time along side some of the most talented and dedicated artist-educators, and administrators out there, as a  faculty member at Seneca College in School of Creative Arts & Animation.    

I still love what I do, and everyday provides an opportunity to improve. I continue to evolve and learn everyday, remaining a work in progress.

Thanks for reading!


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