Working with Winnipeg Businesses since 1999


By on Feb 28, 2015 in Ayoko Magazine Industry Spotlights

Designer & Visual Artist
Jonathan James Design Co.

Painter, sculptor, musician, furniture designer… for artist James Culleton, the list goes on. With such a diverse range of talents, it’s pretty clear that there’s one main thread tying them together: unending creativity and a passion for the arts.

A recent winner in EQ3’s Generation Art contest (featured on page 40), he used his unique collection of line drawing portraits to create a funky one-of-a-kind pattern. His winning design is now being used to create limited-edition pillows, ottomans and napkins that will be sold in support of the Michaëlle Jean Foundation.

“My design includes faces of everyday people, portraits of artists and musicians from all across Canada, and inspiring people from every walk of life,” says James.

Born in Winnipeg’s St. Boniface neighbourhood, James Culleton studied painting and drawing at the University of Manitoba, receiving his B.F.A. Honours in 1997. Following in the footsteps of his late older brother, an artist who passed away at 30, James always considered himself the guy drawing right behind him.

Specializing in murals, chalkboard art, oil and acrylic on canvas and blind contour drawings, you may have unknowingly seen his artwork in the city. He has participated in exhibitions at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, the University of Manitoba, the West End Cultural Centre, The Label Gallery, the Graffiti Gallery, Ace Art Inc., Articule Incorpore, the Portage & District Arts Centre and has had solo exhibitions at St. Boniface College, the Pavilion Gallery Museum and the Kozen Gallery in Montreal, QC.

Recent events like Nuit Blanche have brought his art outdoors as well. For the art festival, he created the “path of light” art installation leading from the Esplanade Riel to Union Station guiding foot traffic. He used over 250 balloons filled with LED flashlights to complete the piece. His work can also be found at the West End Cultural Centre where he designed the metal musical instruments dotting the exterior of the building.

James recently embarked on a new career path, starting Jonathan James Design Co. with Jon Sebastian, a childhood friend since five years old. After losing contact, they reconnected 30 years later. Their first project together is with Art Upholstery in Winnipeg, where they designed the Infinity collection.

“What’s really interesting about this collection is that it combines bedding and seating at the same time – it’s exquisite,” James reflects proudly. “I found collaborating with Jon very easy. I don’t know if that’s the connection we had from childhood, but it felt like I had another set of arms and there was no friction. What this leads to for us is that we’ll be approaching major manufactures and designing collections for them.”

With so many feathers in his cap, it’s no surprise that success for James is much more than simply making it on his own. Echoing other artists and entrepreneurs, success for James equals happiness. He lives to work rather than works to live, and that’s what matters. This fall he will also begin sharing his passion for design with others as a graphic design instructor at Red River College.
“I’m super excited to work with this cross-section of new students just out of high school and older students reconnecting with a new practice. I’ve been able to work with interns in their practicum program and it’s been an exciting addition to what I do – I can get people inspired with design right from the get-go.”

Learn more about James’ work online at

PHOTO: Sean Philips, A Moving Picture Studios

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