Quebec autistic artist inspires: sharing love of animals in his art, children’s books

"It feels great,” says Benjamin Lachapelle, recipient of the Inspirations entrepreneurial award. The 20-year-old Quebecer is autistic, but he doesn't let it define him. He has become known for his works of art. Felisha Adam reports.

Benjamin Lachapelle’s artistic ability is truly out of this world.

The 20-year-old Quebecer is autistic, diagnosed at the age of three. He can draw, paint, sculpt – and even creates books.

Lachapelle is multidisciplinary artist with a singular focus on animals.

“I liked drawing them when I was in kindergarten or in preschool,” said Lachapelle. “And then as I grew older, my drawing grew and grew and then evolved into more active animals.”

While some people may have one or two favourite animals, Lachapelle has nine.

“I like zebras, dogs, elephants, ducks, cows, tigers, polar bears, penguins and chickens,” he said.

Lachapelle is this season’s recipient of the Inspirations entrepreneurial award because of the many ways he showcases his talent.

“It feels great and it feels excellent and it feels awesome,” said the 20-year-old.

His mother, Julie Chou, says she is “immensely proud” of her boy.

“He has kept to his true self and just really shown the world what an autistic person can do, and how much they can contribute, and the joy that they have and the worlds that they have in their inner self,” said Chou.

Lachapelle has written numerous books with more on the way. And of course, they’re all about animals, including his “Yeti Series” of books.

Some of the titles, which are all available on Amazon, include:

  • How Tall is a Yeti?
  • How fast is a Yeti?
  • The Yeti’s Favorite Color
  • The Yeti’s footprints
  • Merry Christmas Yeti

In his spare time, Lachapelle promotes autism acceptance and inclusion by reading at local elementary schools and doing sculpting activities with the kids.

“He does readings of his books,” said Chou. “He also brings his clay and he teaches some of the younger kids how to sculpt little animals out of dry clay.”

Cover of “How Tall is a Yeti?” (Credit: Benjamin Lachapelle)

Lachapelle’s art focuses also on the world around him. One of his styles of art focuses on the extinction of animals.

“Whether it’s global warming or the pollutions in seas, disappearing coral reefs, vanishing jungles, vanishing savannahs, vanishing riverbanks, vanishing everywhere,” he said.

Added Chou: “He’s very passionate about endangered animals and the environment. So he also transfers some of his frustrations into paintings.”

Lachapelle’s art will be featured alongside six others at an exhibit called Festival Imagine.

More information about Lachapelle, his art and his books can be found in the latest issue of Inspirations.

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