1998-2000 New York

At DePauw University, James Caprell pursued art as a pause from his academic rigor. His drawing professor noticed the unique use of light in Caprell’s sketches and encouraged him to trade in his charcoal for a paintbrush. Caprell didn’t take the suggestion lightly and spent the entire summer after graduation filling canvases with landscapes and still lifes. Despite his desire to continue painting, Caprell’s traditional Armenian mindset pushed him towards a more stable profession, and he chose to pursue a career in finance. In the fall of 1998, he moved to New York City to accept a position with acclaimed investment bank J.P. Morgan.

Within two years, Caprell contributed to the execution of several billion-dollar transactions, securing his reputation as one of the top young bankers at the firm. In the summer of 2000, he was presented an offer that would put him on course to become one of the youngest vice-presidents at J.P. Morgan. But Caprell couldn’t accept it.

It was at 4 a.m. in the men’s room stall, where Caprell tried to steal his only hour of sleep in three consecutive nights, that a realization dawned, causing him to reconsider his priorities. He yearned to start contributing to society in a more meaningful way. So, in July of 2000, Caprell returned to painting, leaving the firm to pursue his art full-time.