Look at my Desk – James Foley

Here we go …

It is time to peer into the Creative Space and Look at the Desk of another wonderful children’s book creator from Australia and this time it is James Foley. I recently hung out with James in Singapore at AFCC so of course had to grab him for this. Just love the characters on his shelf and we might even have a similar light!



My desk is a long wooden bench. It was used as a dining table by a friend of mine. Before that, it was built and used by an artist friend of hers. So it’s finally returned to it’s original purpose. Though I still use it as a dining table every lunchtime. It’s a big bulky thing that is very difficult to take from place to place when I move house. But I love it, because it fits my mac, lightbox, printer, graphics tablet and A3 scanner comfortably.

early morning desk

early morning desk

Above the desk are two prints of Shaun Tan’s work, for inspiration. I also stick up random quotes. A new one is from Stephen King: “The scariest moment is always just before you start.” I keep my sketchbooks and reference books in a shelf to the right. Books with photos of animals are very handy to have. I’ve also collected a few “The Art of” books, featuring the work of Tim Burton, Pixar, Maurice Sendak and Graeme Base. I keep my art supplies in a set of drawers to the left. There’s watercolour, gouache and acrylic paints in there. Ink too, and pastels. Up the top I keep my pencils (which I use most often) and paintbrushes (which I use least often- I’d like to make more time for painting. Maybe this weekend?)

Above my art supplies are my mascots. There’s a viking (a gift to celebrate the launch of The last Viking), a carved wooden owl from India, some elephants (belonging to my girlfriend) and some cartoon figurines (the casts of Tintin and Asterix). There are also 5 little ninjas sitting on top of my mac. Underneath my desk is a smelly white dog, and a metric ton of the smelly white dog’s hair. He rests his head on my lap and insists I pat him constantly. I dream of building a dog-patting machine, which allow me use of my hands for typing and drawing.

When I’m illustrating I usually start with rough pencil sketches. I then adjust these in photoshop. I print out the adjusted rough and use my lightbox to trace my final artwork. The example here is from an ebook I’ve just finished illustrating: the second in The Amity Kids Adventures series, called Disturbing the Peace. It’s written by Jon Doust and Ken Spillman. I’m working on the third Amity Kids Adventure now; it should be out in July.

Then I’ll get on with the final artwork for the sequel to The Last Viking. I’m very excited about getting started!


Wonderful!  You can find out more about James at his website. And his latest books are:

The Last Viking (2011)
In The Lion (2012)
The Amity Kids Adventures 1: Magpie Mischief (2013, ebook)
The Amity Kids Adventures 2: Disturbing the Peace (2013, ebook)

and coming soon:

The Amity Kids Adventures 3: Kidnapped! (2013, ebook)


3 Responses to Look at my Desk – James Foley

  1. The Last Viking and In The Lion are family favourites in our house. We also love smelly dogs and elephants. Such a treat to get a glimpse into James Foley’s creative space. Thanks Chris Cheng. Thoroughly enjoyed this blog 🙂

    catherine carvell July 20, 2013 at 7:31 pm Reply
  2. Look at my Desk – what a great series. I am really enjoying learning more about James Foley and other great authors and illustrators. James is one of the creative people that was highlighted at ‘Celebrate Australian picture book illustrators’ this month on our fb page. I will be putting a list of all those mentioned at my blog and will continue this idea next month (June 2014). So was wondering what other great Aussie illustrators people love and would like included.

    Lesley @ Australian Picture Books May 31, 2014 at 10:01 am Reply

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