“A Day in the Life” with Toronto artist Nelson Caetano

Most of us doodle, that absent-minded drawing you do when you’re on the phone or in a meeting. It comes as no surprise to anyone who knows Nelson Caetano, that he obsessed with doodling. And it’s not your average doodles either – no simple swirls, flowers, houses or geometric shapes. It’s all about portraits and superheroes.

According to his mom, he was the same way as a child. Any bit of scrap paper would do, including on the back of old business cards and shopping receipts. Somewhere in his childhood home, sitting in the back of a closet is a box his mom has saved with most of his doodles and drawings. Doodling has played a big role in who Nelson has become – a highly skilled illustrator, a vivid storyteller and a comic book geek. He’s also an incredible husband and a caring father.

When I first met Nelson, he was working in the field of animation and was transitioning into the area of fine art restoration, which also included painting original frescos. Prior to this, Nelson worked as both a graphic designer and an illustrator. Nelson is fascinated about all artistic disciplines – that’s probably why he has spent the last 15 years working as a visual arts teacher in Toronto. He’s told me how his two most important sources of inspiration as a child came from some beat-up, hand-me-down comics and a ratty old hardcover art book on Michelangelo. These relics were not only a learning resource for the young artist, but they served to instil in Nelson the belief that ‘art is art’ – that no form of art should be more important or held in higher regard than another form of art. It’s a belief he shares with his students.

Over the years Nelson’s passion for comic books has never faltered. That is why after a twenty year absence from Toronto’s indie comic book scene, he has returned to illustrating comics and is also now writing them himself. His most recent book, The Gathering Place, set to be released in May 2019, is a collection of short biographies on Toronto artists, illustrators, and storytellers. Nelson’s hope is that this comic book series will serve to give some new insight into well known artists from Toronto’s historic art community and to shine a spotlight on artists who are not as widely known, and who most definitely deserve to be given a little more attention.

-Written by his wife, Sandy

Nelson Caetano - Taking over the dining room with a makeshift studio while repairing water damage in my studio.
1. Taking over the dining room with a makeshift studio while repairing water damage in my studio.
2. My youngest son explores the Sherlock Holmes room at the Toronto Reference Library while I wait for items from the special collections & rare books department.
2. My youngest son explores the Sherlock Holmes room at the Toronto Reference Library while I wait for items from the special collections & rare books department.
Nelson Caetano - Adding watercolour to one of the final pages of The Gathering Place.
3. Adding watercolour to one of the final pages of The Gathering Place.
Nelson Caetano - Enjoying a hot cup of coffee while travelling.
4. Enjoying a hot cup of coffee while travelling.
5. Teaching my sons how to skate.
5. Teaching my sons how to skate.
6. My favourite breakfast - Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict.
6. My favourite breakfast – Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict.
7. Hiking up in Algonquin Park with the wife and kids.
7. Hiking up in Algonquin Park with the wife and kids.
8. Flipping through old comics at our favourite hangout, The Beguiling, with my oldest son.
8. Flipping through old comics at our favourite hangout, The Beguiling, with my oldest son.

***

What ‘hood are you in?

The Junction – the sound of trains help me sleep

What do you do?

By day I teach teenagers how to communicate visually as a visual arts and illustration teacher, and by night I illustrate and write comic books.

What are you currently working on?

The Gathering Place is a historical comic book series featuring short biography stories about Toronto artists, illustrators, and storytellers. At the moment I’m promoting my Kickstarter campaign to cover the printing and distribution costs. For more information on my Kickstarter campaign.

Where can we find your work?

The Gathering Place will be released in May 2019. The book will be released in select comic book shops across Canada, and available to purchase online.

 

 

Joel Levy
About Joel Levy 1487 Articles
Editor-In-Chief at Toronto Guardian. Photographer and Writer for Toronto Guardian and Joel Levy Photography