What the heck happened to 2014?

Happy New Year! I hope you’re well-fed and rested after the holidays, and are feeling ready to tackle another year.

I’ve just had a two-week holiday at home, my first big break in a while. I read a pile of books, watched a stack of movies and played a heap of video games. It was heaven. I’m back at the desk now, but I wanted to take stock of 2014 before getting stuck into new jobs. It’s mostly for my benefit, but if you’re at all interested in how a full-time children’s illustrator spends his time, here’s a month-by-month summary of my 2014.

2014 – Busyness as Usual

Last year flew by and it was packed. So much work, so many good things, a lot to be thankful for. I lost track of all the big events that happened, so I spent this morning making a list: a monthly record of personal and professional milestones.

January
– finished first pass at the final illustrations for The Last Viking Returns
– 1 day of school/library workshops
February
– cleaned-up and finalised The Last Viking Returns illustrations
– family from Chicago came to visit
March
– my sister got married
– sightseeing with Chicago family
– moved house
– moved out of studio
– bought first house
– went to a friend’s wedding in Sydney / had meeting with Walker Books about new project
– went to Great Southern Grammar Festival in Albany
– went to another wedding
– 1 day of school/library workshops
April
– went to another wedding
– 3 days of school/library workshops
May
– started an ArtsEdge Artist-in-Residence project with Briony Stewart at Mount Hawthorn Primary School (two days a week, 13 weeks)
– helped judge the Shaun Tan Art Awards
– Went to Sydney again for a storytelling workshop with crew from Pixar / had another meeting with Walker about new book project
– From Sydney to Adelaide, did a library gig, went to another friend’s wedding
– 11 days of school/library workshops
June
– Annual Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators’ Rottnest Retreat
– 12 days of school/library workshops
July
– Went to Sydney again: Walker seminar and SCBWI conference / had another meeting with Walker about new book project / Children’s Bookshop gig
– From Sydney to Melbourne; school gig, Dreamworks exhibition, mini-break
– From Melbourne to Brisbane; two days school gigs, CBCA talk
– SCBWI event – welcome Professor Ernie Bond and US students to Fremantle
– 10 days of school/library workshops
August
– Book Week/Month begins. Two weeks of metro talks, one week in Narrogin.
– Made a picture book in a day with Narrogin PS students.
– 32nd birthday
– 18 days of school/library workshops
September
– ran a Father’s Day session at Beaufort St Books, Mount Lawley
– launch of The Last Viking Returns book and exhibition at State Library of WA
– started 8-week marionette-making workshop at Spare Parts Puppet Theatre
– SCBWI event: zoo sketch and scribble crawl
– ran a session at Boffins bookshop, Perth
– set up Dianne Wolfer’s new website
– 10 days of school/library workshops
October
– ran a session at Boffins bookshop, Perth
– presented at Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, Bali; sat on a panel with Mem Fox
– SCBWI retreat at Casa del Binks, Dwellingup
– finished the ArtsEdge Artist-in-Residence project; exhibition and website launch
– helped with workshop for Wirlomin mob
– finished marionette-making workshop at Spare Parts Puppet Theatre
– 4 days of school/library workshops
November
– Started final illustrations for new book project with Walker
– Fremantle Street Parade with Fremantle Press staff and alumni
– Ran a one-day picture book illustration workshop for UWA Extension
– Four days of workshops at West Leederville and White Gum Valley primary schools for the Perth International Arts Festival’s Giant Picture Book Project
– ran a session for Dymocks bookshop, Belmont
December
– Another four days of workshops for the Perth International Arts Festival’s Giant Picture Book Project with Nedlands and Churchlands primary schools
– weekend trip to Casa del Eslick-Stewart, Bridgetown
– another weekend trip for brother’s 30th, Eagle Bay
– finished first pass at final illustrations for new book project
– took some time off
– Christmas

Vital statistics:

  • I did 80-ish days of talks and workshops at schools, libraries and festivals
  • Quietest term: 1st
  • Quietest month: April
  • Busiest term: 3rd
  • Busiest month: August (always)
  • I made 3 trips to Sydney
  • I made 1 trip each to Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide
  • I attended 5 friend’s weddings in 3 months
  • I did 4 bookshop sessions
  • I worked on 2 main book projects
  • I got 1 mortgage
  • I got 0 sleep

It was a great year. It was also an exhausting year. And while I’ve got lots on the cards for 2015, I don’t want to be travelling at the same break-neck speed; I want to set aside time for healthy eating, for exercise and for enough time with my family and friends. It’s a clichéd New Year’s resolution, but it’s something I really want to do: to have a healthier work/life balance. We’ll see how that pans out in reality 🙂


2015 – What’s Next?

There’s a few community events happening this January …

January 7-8: City of Wanneroo’s ‘Drawing Rooms’ program

Visitors are encouraged to draw, paint or photograph featured objects and art works from the City of Wanneroo Museum and Art Collections. I’ll be there on these two days to provide advice to budding artists. More info on the website.

January 10th: Books From Your Backyard

BYB-2015Come to the State Library of WA for a day of FREE family sessions with WA authors and illustrators! Hear them read their latest books and maybe get yourself a signed copy. There’ll be sessions from 10am – 3:30pm; I’ll be there at 2pm reading from The Last Viking Returns. Get the details and the full schedule here or here.

January 15-18: Book an Adventure, the Bruny Island Children’s Literature Festival

Bruny-Island-fest-2015Norman Jorgensen and I are heading to Tassie for a viking-themed festival. We’re running workshops and community events. It’s going to be awesome! Head to the website for more details.

January 21st: cartooning workshop at Mundijong Library, WA

I’m running a workshop from 10-11am for 8-12 year olds.
Call Mundijong Library on (08) 9526 1133 for more info.

January 22nd: cartooning workshop at Morley Library, WA

I’m running a workshop from 3 – 4:30pm for 6-12 year olds.
Call Morley Library on (08) 9375 1766 for more info.


The rest of 2015 has a lot of festivals and conferences, some possible overseas travel and a new book being released. I want to get on with a new book as author/illustrator as well. It’s going to be a year of big change and more work, but hopefully more fun, and there will be many things to be grateful for.

I hope you’re looking forward to your year too!

Author: James Foley

James makes books for courageous kids. His books include 'The Amity Kids Adventures', 'In The Lion', 'The Last Viking'. A couple of these books have won awards. People have also bought copies, and for that he is grateful. His new book 'The Last Viking Returns' is out now. Follow James at www.facebook.com/jamesfoleyillustrations , @James_R_Foley on twitter and instagram or at www.jamesfoley.com.au

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