Tim Foley is a Michigan based illustrator who has drawing pictures for a living for the past three decades.
Impact of Reading in My Life
I have been a voracious reader all my life. My favorite hangout since I was about ten years old has been the local library, and I frequently seek out the library in any new place that I visit. Most of my illustration heroes were discovered on the library shelves, names such as George Herriman, Thomas Nast, Sir John Tenniel, Heinrich Kley, E.H. Shepard, Garth Williams, Egon Schiele and Norman Rockwell. I find that illustration is a natural extension of my wish to see the vivid imagery that reading puts into my head, set down on paper, and I am grateful to have been able to make my living at this for over thirty years.
I hope they see the same things that I saw when I was a youngster, as I was looking at illustrations in my favorite books, and inspire them to create their own images.
A.A. Milne's "Winnie the Pooh", Roald Dahl's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory", E.B. White's "Charlotte's Web", and Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland" are probably my favorite children's books, and all have illustrations that influenced me greatly.
Read to them every night. Have plenty of books available around the house, and visit the library regularly. Most importantly, make sure they see you reading for pleasure often. What children want, most of all, is to emulate you.
I usually start the day early, and warm up with rough sketches for upcoming projects. This serves to loosen my drawing hands up, and also my brain. I then will begin working on finished illustrations mid-morning and work on them until they are done (which could be a few hours later, to the end of the day and beyond). If I feel myself becoming sloppy and taking shortcuts, I will generally take a break and go for a walk, or read for an hour or so.
In my spare time, I am a songwriter and musician and play in several local bands. If I weren't an illustrator, I'd likely try to make a living at music, or possibly as a writer.
I started out as a young artist copying the styles of artists that I admired. I was a big fan of Mad Magazine, and especially the movie satires and caricatures of Mort Drucker, and the cross hatch techniques of Sir John Tenniel's "Alice in Wonderland" illustrations. You can see a lot of influences of their work that has rubbed off on me. Over the years I've also worked in various other styles, from a loose cartoon style to a tightly detailed scratchboard technique and then a return to the black and white line art that I'm most known for today. You develop your own style once you've thrown off the shackles and shortcuts of your influences and begin finding your own voice through sheer repetition and hundreds of hours of drawing. But you never quite 100% lose those early influences.