Derek James

Occupation: Researcher, and on the side, face-painter/body-artist

Age: 52

Home town: Born in Gander, grew up in Ottawa

Musical preferences: Shaye, Mae Moore, Native music, and Celtic music. “I’m sort of eclectic.”

Last book read: Symbols of the Celts by Sabine Heinz

Zodiac sign: Leo

Words of wisdom: “We need to learn to invest in people who invest in people and the environment.”

The story: Derek is a man with plenty of tales to tell. He’s been a balloon-o-gram-delivering clown, the president of a union on a military base, a Native spirituality assistant, and lots of stuff in between. Here in St. John’s he’s best known as a face- and body-painter.

After his time on the mainland working as a clown, his flair with paints steered him towards face-painting. These days he sets up his mobile station at various events across town.

His favourite part is the interaction with kids, “it sort of breaks down boundaries…you can see it’s something that can raise their spirits.”

The most common faces requested from boys? Vampires, snakes, monsters, and third eyes. For girls, it’s cats, butterflies, and flowers – although, interestingly enough, Derek says on the mainland ‘a princess’ is a very common request from little girls, while in Newfoundland, it’s more common for them to want to be painted like a vampire than a princess.

“Maybe there’s a ruggedness… they like the idea of being able to be scary,” he says.

That’s just the influence of the good strong women here raising strong daughters, I’d say!

Derek’s biggest face-painting tip? Use paints that are child-safety rated, which may not be always available here, so check online.
You can catch Derek (with Dylan Cag) face-painting next at The Rooms on Sunday, Oct. 28th from 1-4pm. You can reach Derek at

— Emilie Bourque


I saw you

16 August 2011

  1. stephy · August 16, 2011

    Just love this guy
    Looking great Derrik

  2. Telma Bellotto · August 16, 2011

    Derek is a great person with a huge heart. I met him in 2001 when he invited me to come to Canada, sponsoring my trip and my stay here. From that moment we became good friends. He is a member of an environmental organization in Brazil called (GAMA) of which I am the President. I hope someday we could get some funding to bring Derek to Brazil, for him to share his knowledge and spirituality among youths and children we work with who live in small villages in the center point of Brazil. Congratulation Derek, you deserve the best!

  3. Ramiro · August 16, 2011

    We love you Derek! keep working with the kids and the people. Your message is still among us. Man of wisdom and freedom. Friend, we alwas miss you!!

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