James Foley makes children’s books for children who read books. If you’re a child and you’re eating his books, you’re doing it wrong. James writes and draws; he gives talks and runs workshops. He tells dad jokes. Legends say James can grow a beard in an afternoon. He lives in Perth with his wife, son and labrador. He is a massive Marvel movie nerd and comes from a long line of queuing enthusiasts.
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The medium version
James Foley makes picture books, middle grade novels and comics for kids. He’s the author/illustrator of the S.Tinker Inc graphic novel series for middle primary: Brobot (2016), Dungzilla (2017) and Gastronauts (2018) star Sally Tinker, the world’s foremost inventor under the age of twelve, and Joe Tinker, her stinky baby brother. The fourth in the series, Chickensaurus, will be published in late 2020. James also illustrates the Toffle Towers series written by Tim Harris. James contributed to Total Quack Up (2018) and Funny Bones (2019), both anthologies of funny stories with proceeds going to charity. His earlier books My Dead Bunny (2015), In The Lion (2012), The Last Viking (2011) and The Last Viking Returns (2014) have all scored several honours, including children’s choice awards, shortlistings in the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year awards, and selection to the International Youth Library’s White Raven list. The sequel to My Dead Bunny, There’s Something Weird About Lena, will be published in late 2020.
The longer version
Hi, I’m James. I’m a writer, illustrator and cartoonist. I run workshops and give talks.
Most illustrators will tell you they’ve been drawing for as long as they can remember. I started my career in primary school, drawing cartoons for the school newspaper. The paper only lasted one issue, probably because my class faked a fire in the school hall using a smoke machine to get our front page story. In year 7, I won third prize in a state-wide ‘Make Your Own Storybook’ Competition. I later worked on a regular comic strip for my high school paper; editorial cartoons for a Curtin University paper; and a full-page comic for Notre Dame University’s ‘Quasimodo’ magazine.
But my professional career really began in 2003, when I drew my first covers for Western Australia’s weekly ‘Quokka‘ newspaper. By the time I finished in 2010 I’d drawn nearly 300 full-colour cartoons, usually featuring local landmarks and events.
I’ve worked as a freelancer, creating cartoons and illustrations for clients including Caritas Australia and the State Child Development Centre. I’ve consulted and volunteered with community groups and non-government organisations: working with children with special needs at Disability in the Arts Disadvantage in the Arts Australia (WA), assisting Indigenous artists through the Wirlomin Noongar Language and Stories Project, and teaching students in country towns through the Rural Development Australia (Wheatbelt) “Sharing Stories” comic project.
My favourite part of the job is presenting workshops at schools and libraries. I’m always amazed at the natural enthusiasm children bring to drawing, especially when they draw just for themselves and don’t care if it’s ‘good enough’ or not. I believe we all have this enthusiasm when we are younger, but most of us lose it – maybe someone makes a nasty comment, or maybe we think someone else is better at it, or maybe we think we have to draw things that look ‘right’ (I still struggle with this last one). I’ve worked with older audiences too, including educational organisations and corporate groups, and it’s fun to see people get back in touch with their creative child.
I’m a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Australia West chapter. I’m also a member of the Australian Society of Authors and the Children’s Book Council of Australia.
I like working with pen and ink, pencil, charcoal and watercolour. I also use digital tools: Adobe Photoshop, a Wacom graphics tablet, an iPad Pro and the Procreate app.