James Foley is one of FOUR Creative Mentors sharing the tricks of their trades to support you on your journey in Connecting Through Creativity. Follow along as they give tips on their creative processes, specific art forms, and other tricks to help inspire your creative submission. Learn more about how to submit your visual art masterpiece that explores that topic of CONNECTIVITY for a chance to win $500, by clicking here!
Hi, I'm James Foley. I write and illustrate children's books. It's my full time job, and it's what I've always wanted to do - but before it was my job, it was what I did anyway. It's what I've always done since the time I was a little kid. When I had spare time, I made stuff. So because of that built-in drive, I think it's what I've always been meant to do.
If you're a creative-artist-type person like me, then you probably find that you are similarly compelled to make things, just for the sake of it. And maybe, like me, you're interested in making all sorts of different things. I love drawing, I love writing, I love sculpting and collage;I love making animations and films and making up songs.
The thing that I think connects all of my creative practice is curiosity.
Curiosity is what leads me to pick up a sketchbook and a pencil, and see what drawings appear.
Curiosity is what leads me to wonder what personality a particular character might have, and what their name might be, and where they might live.
Curiosity makes me ask what might happen to that character in a particular situation. Then I write it down and make a story.
Curiosity leads me to learn about new topics that I don't know anything about, just for the sake of learning. I got some great story ideas out of reading about advances in robotics and artificial intelligence, and dung beetles, and Vikings, and zombies, and whether science has a way to turn a chicken into a dinosaur. The latter lead me to write and illustrate a graphic novel called Chickensaurus (out in Oct 2020). Or let's say, hypothetically, I become obsessed with the true history of animals in space exploration; this could theoretically lead me to write and illustrate a picture book about the subject (it's called Stellarphant and will be out next year).
Curosity is also what invites me to try new things -new books, new movies, new foods, new travel locations (sadly there's no travel at the moment, but there will be again one day). Curiosity also suggests new artistic materials. I had never done sculpture before, so I signed up for a class back in 2009. I LOVED it, and I found that sculpting 3D characters really helped me with my drawing. It meant that I started to think more about my characters as 3-dimensional beings when I drew them; it helped my drawing immensely, and got me ready to start my career as a professional illustrator.
So that's my advice - follow your curiosity. Try new things. Learn about anything that interests you. Soak up new experiences and knowledge. Because you never know where your curiosity will take you ... but in my experience, as long as I follow what I'm interested in, I know I will always end up somewhere good.
Check out this video of James Foley's answers to YOUR creative questions!
How will you use curiosity to create your visual masterpiece that explores the topic of CONNECTIVITY? Enter the Connecting Through Creativity challenge and you could win $500 in prizes! Click here for more information on age categories, prizes, and how to enter.