A little bit about me

graves, circa 1971

Just a skinny kid from Rexdale, I had a wonderful childhood with my Mum, Dad and big Sister. By trade I am an Illustrator and Character designerBased in Toronto, I'm also a very lucky Husband & Proud Daddy! (sadly, no longer skinny)  :( 

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. These days, I miss drawing more and more. Between responsibilities around program builds and curriculum development at school and home life, I don't get the opportunity to draw as much these days.

Certainly not as much as I'd like to.. :(

As far as "drawing" as a way of life goes, it was at a very early age (like 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 encouraged me to draw. She also taught me to sign everything and to be proud of my work. I was very lucky to have such a supportive family. I'm STILL very fortunate today. Without my wife and partner in crime of 26 years now, the person you see today just doesn't exist.

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. I taught a wide range of swimming lessons from Moms & tots to Bronze cross, NLS and Leader/ Instructors. I enjoyed working outside all summer at outdoor pools and especially loved teaching. I really missed it when it was time to grow up and join the real world. :(

Another 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 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 and haven't stopped since. 

Now, remember how I mentioned earlier that I really missed teaching? Well lets fast-forward again to December 2001, when an incredible opportunity presented itself in the form of then Chair, Jed Decory offering me an incredible opportunity to teach Character design in Seneca's Animation Arts Centre. I jumped at the opportunity!! 

The following Monday the late Larry DeFlorio (r.i.p), then AAC Coordinator, called and suggested we talk character design. After 18 years, I think we can safely say that the meeting went well!

I started teaching part-time at Seneca in January 2002 and since 2004 have been privileged to work full-time along side some of the most talented and enthusiastic artist-educators out there as a  faculty member at Seneca College in School of Creative Arts & Animation. 

As of January 2020, I am subject lead for Character design in the ANI Program and Visual development lead, in the ILS program. 

Thanks for reading!
- graves 

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