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Free family event: Backyard Book Fair

Hi everyone,

I’m going to be at a free family event this Saturday December 2nd. There will be kids activities, storytelling and book signings, plus a Christmas gift stall. PLUS free  cupcakes! It’s going to be awesome. Details below. Hope to see you there.

– James

Dec 2:  Backyard Book Fair (for families)

Free fun for kids and their carers. Be entertained, write and draw with Western Australian children’s authors and illustrators. Purchase signed Christmas gifts and meet your favourite local book creators including Aśka , Cristy Burne, Kelly Canby, Frané Lessac, Meg McKinlay, Teena Raffa-Mulligan and Dianne Wolfer – plus some guy called James Foley! Authors and illustrators will be available for book signings too. All materials for activities and a scrummy morning tea will be provided. Suitable for ages 10 and below, but everyone is welcome!

Free event. Registration required. Places are limited.

Presented in partnership with The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (WA).

WHEN: Saturday Dec 2
TIMES: 10:00am – 12:30pm (see below for program)
WHERE: State Library of Western Australia (Theatre), 25 Francis St, Perth, WA
AGES: 10yo and below
COST: free, but bookings are essential: click here to register.

In The Lion: crappy costumes!

2017 marks the 5-year anniversary of my book In The Lion.

In The Lion, front coverIt’s a catchy cumulative picture book about bravery, heroism and a very hungry carnivore. It was my first book as author and illustrator, and my first with the wonderful team at Walker Books.

I recently realised that in the five years since the book came out, I never got around to sharing the costumes I made for each character in the book. These were quick, easy and – yes, slightly crappy – costumes I made in an afternoon from things you could find around the house, plus a few things from the $2 shop and the art and craft store. When I talked about the book at the Perth Writers Festival in Feb 2013, kids from the audience wore the costumes and helped me act out the story.

An example of the crappy costumes – here, the character of the armadillo.

Hopefully these costumes (or something like them) would work for you and your kids at home, or even the students in your class, so that you can act the story out too.

Continue reading “In The Lion: crappy costumes!”

Events for Sept-Oct 2017, including the Dungzilla book launch

Exciting news: my next graphic novel for kids, Dungzilla, is out on September 1st!

Kids and families are invited to a book launch on October 3rd at the State Library of WA – scroll down for details.

DUNGZILLA is available for pre-order now.

And now, my upcoming events:
Some Perth-based school holiday workshops, and the Perth book launch of Dungzilla!
Plus, some fantastic events in Queensland in early September.


Sept 4:  Bearbots and Brobots (for kids)

Join me and fellow author Andrew King for a fun session about robotics! in building robots out of bits and pieces. I made a graphic novel called Brobot, and Andrew King wrote a book called Engibear’s Dream. Find out what a Brobot is and meet Engibear. Listen to the stories, join in hands on activities then explore the library’s bots.

WHEN: Monday Sept 4
TIMES: 4:00pm-5:00pm
WHERE: Ipswich Central Library
AGES: 4-8yo
COST: free
BOOKINGS:
essential; click here.


Sept 4-7:  StoryArts Festival Ipswich, schools program

I’ll be talking to schoolkids about the making of my picture book, My Dead Bunny, written by Sigi Cohen and illustrated by me. The sessions will run after performances of My Dead Bunny the musical (see below).

WHEN: Monday Sept 4- Thursday 7
TIMES: 10:35am and 1:25pm
WHERE: Studio 188, 188 Brisbane St, Ipswich, QLD
AGES: grades 5-7
COST & BOOKINGS: see the StoryArts Festival website.


Sept 4-9:  My Dead Bunny, the musical comedy!

You’ve read the book – now see the musical.

After his pet bunny Brad perishes in an electrifying accident, a young Boy struggles to say goodbye, but following a bizarre chain of events, it would seem that Bunny Brad’s journey isn’t quite over.

Odd odours, eerie earthworms, and strange shadows can only mean one thing – there’s an undead bunny going bump in the night. But with a cast of eccentric doctors, bizarre besties, creepy crawlies, peculiar parents, silly sisters, and ghoulish guests… defeating the undead may be a little tricky.

A hare-raising musical adventure for the whole family.

WHERE: Studio 188, 188 Brisbane St, Ipswich, QLD

SCHOOL GROUP SESSIONS: Sept 4th-7th: 9:30am and 12:20pm daily. Grades 5-7.
Bookings via StoryArts Festival Ipswich.

PUBLIC SESSIONS: Sept 7th-9th: 7.30pm nightly + 11am & 2pm Sat 9th.
Bookings via That Production Company.


Sept 8:  Brisbane Writers’ Festival schools program (Wordplay)

I’m running two different sessions at BWF this year.
Creature Characters is for primary students – they’ll learn all about the secrets of character design and how to design their own robots and creatures.
Visual Literacy is for teachers – it’s a session on learning how visual narratives tell stories in picture books and comics.

WHEN: Friday Sept 8
TIMES:
*  Creature Characters: 10am-11am and 1pm-2pm
*  Visual Literacy: 11:30am-12:30pm
WHERE: State Library of Queensland
COST & BOOKINGS: see the BWF Wordplay website for details.


Sept 9-10:  StoryArts Festival Ipswich, adults program

I’ve got two sessions:

My Dead Bunny – Digging Deep
I’ll talk about the illustration process behind the CBCA-shortlisted picture book.
WHEN: Saturday Sept 9th, 3:30pm-4:30pm.

Bearbots and Brobots
Hear from myself and Andrew King about the making of our two books: Brobot and Engibear’s Dream.
WHEN: Sunday Sept 10th, 9:45am-10:45am.

BOOKINGS: Essential. Head to the StoryArts Festival website for more details.


Sept 28-29:  Robot illustration workshops (for kids)

Come to the City of Melville libraries for an art workshop! Learn how to create your own robot collage illustration, inspired by my comic book for kids, Brobot.

TIMES/VENUES:
Thurs Sept 28
*  9:30-10:30am – Civic Square Library >>>BOOKED OUT<<<
*  11:30am-12:30pm – Canning Bridge Library
*  2-3pm – Willagee Library
Fri Sept 29
*  9:30-10:30am, 11:30am-12:30pm – both at AH Bracks Library.

BOOKINGS: Essential. Book your place online here.


Oct 3:  DUNGZILLA book launch! (for kids)

It’s here, it’s finally here! Help me celebrate the launch of my latest graphic novel in the S.Tinker Inc series, Dungzilla. I’ll tell you all the weird things I learned about about dung beetles while researching the book, we’ll do some drawing, and you can ask your nitty-gritty questions about the book-making process. And I’ll also sign your copy of Dungzilla!

This launch is part of the Awesome Arts Festival for kids.

WHEN: Tues Oct 3
TIME: 3pm
WHERE: The Story Place, mezzanine floor, State Library of WA
COST: $15.50 general admission + one copy of the authors’ book. $25.50 family of four + one copy of the authors’ book. $5.50 general admission (Inclusive of all fees and charges).
BOOKINGS: Essential. Book your place online here (there’s a tiny ‘Book Now’ button on that page, top right) or call 9328 9666 during office hours.


Oct 5:  Cartooning workshops (for kids)

I’m heading to the City of Kalamunda libraries to teach you cartooning! We’ll practice the basic facial expressions, learn how to draw bodies, and invent our own crazy characters.

WHEN: Thurs Oct 5
TIMES/VENUES:
*  9:30-10:30am – Kalamunda Library >>>BOOKED OUT<<<
*  11:15am-12:15pm – Lesmurdie Library
*  1:30-2:30pm – Forrestfield Library >>>BOOKED OUT<<<

BOOKINGS: Essential. Book your place online here.

 


Upcoming events for April/May/June

I’ve got bunch of workshops and talks over the next three months, including sessions at writers’ festivals in Armadale, Midland, Margaret River and Sydney!


To get email notifications of future events, you can either:
– subscribe to new blog posts via the little box on the right.
– sign up for my newsletter, The James Foley-o, and get all my news and events in a quarterly email.


April 8-23 – Eggsibition

Exhibition,noun = a public display of works of art or items of interest, held in an art gallery or museum.
Eggsibition, noun =  an exhibition about Eggs!

The eggcelent creatives at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators have cooked up a cracking good collection of work. Come along to Paper Bird Children’s Books & Arts in Fremantle to see what they’ve hatched.

 

Continue reading “Upcoming events for April/May/June”

FAQ: What advice do you have for aspiring writers and illustrators?

Many people think they could write or illustrate a children’s book.

Few could.

Some try, and

a small number are actually published.

Partly this is due to skill level. It takes many years to get your work up to the professional standard suitable for publication. Most people do not persevere and see it through.

In my opinion, the most inspiring advice for aspiring writers and illustrators comes from Ira Glass, the US radio broadcaster. Here’s a little snippet:

All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good … a lot of people never get past this phase.

Does that sound like you? It perfectly sums up the early part of my creative journey, when I was struggling to get my work up to standard and to get my first book contract.

Ira goes on to explain how to close that gap between your skill and your ambitions. The full quote is insightful, simple and brilliant. Rather than just copy and paste the whole quote verbatim, I found a short film-version put together by filmmaker Daniel Sax (see below). It’s brilliant too.

If you’re struggling with staying motivated on your own creative journey, please please please watch this video. Then turn off the internet and go make your art!

The evolution of Sally Tinker

My latest book, Brobot, was released in 2016. It’s a graphic novel for younger readers. I first started working on it in 2012. Over those four years I drew many different versions of the main characters – Sally, Joe and Brobot – and I’ll be sharing some of those over the next few months on this blog.

sally-tinker-1st-storyboard-p4-5

ABOVE: One of the earliest sketches of Sally Tinker. From 2012. This is from the very first draft picture book (well before we realised it needed to be a comic). She’s very cute here, and is in much the same style as Josh from The Last Viking. She has a tiny hint of the attitude she shows in the final book.

20130312-sally-web

ABOVE: Another early sketch of Sally, from 2013, back when I was still trying to figure out her hairstyle and costume. Note that here she still has dots for eyes like Josh did in The Last Viking, rather than the cartoony circular eyes she has in the final book.

 

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ABOVE: Another version of Sally, from 2015. Closer to her final version but not quite there. She now has circles for eyes, and her grumpy demeanour. The oversized rubber gloves didn’t make it to the final version.

ABOVE: Maquettes are super helpful when you want to figure out how a character looks in 3D. I was having particular trouble with Sally’s hairstyle and profile, and a maquette helped me figure that out. This is from January 2016, just as I started the final artwork.

20160214-joe-and-sally-character-ref-web

ABOVE: The final version of Sally Tinker, Feb 2016. When you draw the character from different angles like this, it’s called a ‘turnaround’. It’s a reference you keep by your desk when you illustrate a story so that you can keep your character consistent (ie this is also called keeping your character “on model”). I drew this after I had completed the final illustrations for the book. Pro tip: you should really make your turnaround sheets BEFORE you do the final illustrations, not after 😉


Brobot-3d-final-400pxBuy ‘Brobot’ now

FAQ: How do I get my book published?

This is my most Frequently Asked Question by far.

So you’ve written and/or illustrated your amazing children’s book. Now you want to get it published. You have two options available: traditional publishing and self-publishing … plus a third option that you should avoid.

Continue reading “FAQ: How do I get my book published?”

FAQ: How do I find an illustrator for my book?

Here’s another in my Frequently Asked Question series.

So you’ve written a picture book manuscript; now you want to find an illustrator.

Before we get to that, we need to clear up some misconceptions about how writers work with illustrators, and consider how they’re paid and contracted.

Continue reading “FAQ: How do I find an illustrator for my book?”

FAQ: How did you get into books?

The Last Viking book launch, June 24th, 2011. (L-R) Norman, James, Kris Williams, our editor Cate Sutherland, and Director of the Children's Literature Centre Lesley Reece
The Last Viking book launch, June 24th, 2011. (L-R) Norman, James, Kris Williams, our editor Cate Sutherland, and Director of the Children’s Literature Centre Lesley Reece

To the pre-published, the children’s book industry can seem like a secret club. How do you get to be one of those people on the inside, who have their stories and illustrations published professionally? It’s something I get asked a lot.

Continue reading “FAQ: How did you get into books?”

9 ways to encourage young artists

When I meet parents at events they often say,

‘my child loves to draw/write/create. How can I encourage their interest?’

Best-selling Australian author Matthew Reilly says, ‘never underestimate the power of your encouragement.’ He writes it in the thank you section at the back of every one of his books; he knows that it got him to where he is today. Encouragement is an incredibly powerful thing; young artists grow when they know that people believe in them and support their interest. (The same goes for adult artists, too!).

My advice comes from my work as an artist (who was once a young artist), my studies in primary teaching and psych (though I’m not a child psychology expert by any means), and my experience of working with kids in workshops. Here’s 9 things you can do to encourage the young writer and/or illustrator in your life … or even your own inner artist.

Continue reading “9 ways to encourage young artists”