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- author Jackie French

Thursday 29 October 2015

Meet the Illustrator: James Foley

credit: Sam Hughes
Describe your illustration style in ten words or less.
Cartoony, cinematic, comic, cute.

What items are an essential part of your creative space?
My creative space is dominated by tech … I use it for most of my work: for scanning sketches, putting storyboards and dummy books together, cleaning up artwork, colouring illustrations, making prints. But it takes up a lot of space. If I had more space I’d keep my computer/scanner/printer setup to one side, and have another space just for drawing and painting and making a mess.

I also have a lot of pics up on the notice board; some are ideas for new books.

The original 1980s mission brown carpet is NOT an essential part of the creative space.

Do you have a favourite artistic medium?
Charcoal is a favourite. And I love the flexibility of digital illustration.

Name three artists whose work inspires you.
It’s too hard to just name three … if we kept it to Australian children’s illustrators then I’d say Shaun Tan, Bruce Whatley, Freya Blackwood. If it were comic strip artists, it would be Mike Mignola (Hellboy), Albert Uderzo (Asterix), Bill Watterson (Calvin and Hobbes).

Which artistic period would you most like to visit and why?
Ancient Egypt! Just to see how the artists painted the murals in the tombs, and how they made all their sculptures and paraphernalia. I’ve always been fascinated by it.

Who or what inspired you to become an illustrator?
Like all kids I enjoyed drawing and painting and making things out of boxes; I loved being read to, and then later on being able to read books on my own. I liked making up stories. I kept doing these things and was encouraged to by my parents and teachers.

In year 7 we were asked to make our own picture book for a class project. We also entered them in the Make Your Own Storybook competition, organized by the CBCA here in WA. I won 3rdprize in the Year 6/7 category, and that was huge for me; I was very proud and hoped that one day I could make a real book.

Can you share a photo of your creative work space or part of the area where you work most often?

What is your favourite part of the illustration process?
The colouring in! It’s when all the character design and storyboards and outlines are set; all I have to do then is sit down and do the colouring, so it’s very relaxing (as many non-artistic adults are discovering with the current colouring book craze). It’s also exciting because when I add colour the pictures finally start to take shape; the story comes to life. You can see that the work was worthwhile.

What advice would you give to an aspiring illustrator?
Persistence is more important than anything else. Many people are talented, but not everyone is persistent enough to keep trying.

James Foley is an Australian writer, illustrator and cartoonist. His books include In the Lion, The Amity Kids Adventures (written by Jon Doust and Ken Spillman) and The Last Viking (written by Norman Jorgensen). His latest book, My Dead Bunny, is written by Sigi Cohen and published by Walker Books. Visit James' website and Facebook page for more information about his books, illustrations and workshops.