14 December 1989

Going Nationwide

This was the very first illustration assignment for Cricket magazine, who would become a fairly frequent client over the course of my freelance career to the present day. This one came across my desk at the tail end of my first year in business, just a month after my son Keenan was born. Back at this time, this magazine primarily used two color artwork on the inside of the magazine, and full color on the cover. Doing a two color separation was a bit tricky, but if I remember correctly, I ended up doing an overlay of tracing paper, and adding watercolor directly to the overlay. The original art still survives (for sentimental value probably), although the overlay has long ago disappeared. Below is the original black and white illustration, and above is how it appeared in print.

This assignment came across my desk around the final part of the month (billed out the day after Christmas), and on the final day of the year, just before New Year's Eve, I got a call from Adweek for a cover assignment. I wish I still had the original art for this one, or even a tearsheet. I'm sure it was horrible looking, but I put a lot of work into it, late into the night to meet the tight deadline (and my first experience with FedX overnight delivery), and was a big boost to my morale when it really needed it. I began to think, 'hey, maybe I can do this job'.

UPDATE: While going through some old paperwork in 2014, I ran across a tear sheet of the Adweek Cover (I was right, it was pretty awful looking), and here's a photo of it:

01 December 1989

Xmas Party 1989

For several years, prior to my freelance illustration career, my illustration skills were mostly kept bottled up, and the biggest outlet for my creativity was the annual Xmas Party invitation. We had held the first Party in 1984 (and I don't remember if a special invitation was drawn up for that one or not), back when we lived in the apartment down on Michigan Street, and we began making it an annual event once we moved into our first house on Straight Street, and it continued until the mid nineties (at which point it just became too exhausting to keep up with). I had thought most of these invitations had disappeared, but when my father passed away in 2014, whole stack of them were unearthed in his keepsake drawer.

The party usually involved a banquet table of food, lots of booze and cocktails, parlor games, and eventually a small stakes poker game, as the crowd thinned out. Judging from clues in the illustration, I'd guess this one was circa 1989.

12 November 1989

More Early Postcard Mailings

Here are some more black and white postcards that I sent out that first year in business. If I remember correctly, I usually had these printed up 4 to a page and sent them out every other week, as a way of bombarding potential clients.

By November of '89, I had a couple clients who were starting to use me on a regular basis, and I started doing a bit of work for a local department store, designing artwork for their newspaper ads (Steketees, which is now no longer in business). Aside from Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, though, the client list was still primarily Grand Rapids based. This would change beginning on nearly the last day of the year.

05 November 1989

Another great adventure begins

Our little 'bundle of joy' around 6:30 on a Sunday night, after a very quick delivery. Keenan Patrick Foley. As I'm writing this (2008), he is now in his final year of high school, and planning on attending Columbia College in Chicago in the fall.

UPDATE (2010): Went to Columbia College in the fall of 2008, and he is now halfway through his junior year. Studying Jazz Saxophone performance as a music major, with the possibility of also going into some sort of writing/English in graduate school. A good looking kid, taller than his old man (and much smarter).

15 October 1989

Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine

One of the first national magazine clients to contact me with work in my first year of business, was Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine. They would continue to use me off and on for the next 25 plus years, usually half page to full page black and white scratchboard illustrations. This illustration above isn't the very first one I did for them, but probably dates somewhere around '91 or '92. I remember the first one, even though the art no longer survives, it was for a murder mystery that involved an ice fishing shanty, and it was a picture of a frozen lake with a single shanty sitting on the ice.

For a while I was dutifully saving every issue I appeared in, until the books and samples started crowding me out of the office. Most of the early originals have been lost, but I did manage to find this one that escaped the last purge.

In the years prior to going digital, according to my records, I appeared in 'Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine' 40 times from January of 1989 (January doesn't sound right, as I don't remember working for them until later in the year) through July of 1997, of which, very few illustrations have survived (or even copies of the magazines they appeared in). Here's a list of the stories and dates, and if anyone should happen to stumble upon this list, and happens to have a copy of the particular issue in question, I'd love to see them (contact me: tim.foley@comcast.net).

Illustrations invoiced in 1989:
6 illustrations including one titled "Ice Shanty" (either the name of the story or just a description of the artwork)
All of the other illustrations from this year may have appeared in late 1989 or early 1990, and I have no records of titles, authors or publication date.

Illustrations invoiced in 1990:
4 illustrations with no names, dates, author indicated on the invoice as well as the following 6 stories:
"The Return of the Matchbook Detective"
"Dreams of Death"
"Front Window"
"A Little More Research"
"Medusa in Mourning"
"Fantasies in the Park"

Illustrations invoiced in 1991:
8 illustrations with no names, dates, author indicated on the invoice

Illustrations invoiced in 1992:
4 illustrations with no names, dates, author indicated on the invoice

Illustrations invoiced in 1993: (one illustration this year, with the title below)
"User Unfriendly" (possibly the illustration pictured above)

Illustrations invoiced in 1994: (two illustrations this year, with the titles below)
"For Sale Cheap" for the July 1994 Issue
"Medium Rare"

Illustrations invoiced in 1995: (three illustrations this year, with the titles below)
"One Toke Over the Line" for the October 1995 issue
"Murder is My Specialty" for the February 1996 issue
"Interrogation" for the April 1996 issue

Illustrations invoiced in 1996: (two illustrations, with the titles below)
"Sing and Sing Aloud" for the May 1996 issue
"Their Silly Little Hands" for the May 1996 issue

Illustrations invoiced in 1997:
"Blowback" for the May 1997 issue
"Neither Rhyme nor Riot"
"A Game of Hangman" for the September 1997 issue
"Montezuma's Castle" (I have the artwork for this one, which I have linked to the blog post)
"Exceptions" for the November 1997 issue (I believe I have the artwork for this one, but I could be wrong about which illustration in 1997 it was for, which I have linked to the blog post)

The rest of the illustrations (which, as of January of 2014, is 79 assignments, bringing the grand total up to approximately 119 illustrations I've done for them since 1989) can be found by clicking on the links provided, and the titles for those are (and I'd love to get ahold of back issues in which these appeared, from 2000-2004):

6 in 2000:
"Cut and Dried" by William Hallstead
"The Witches of Westfleet" by DA McGuire
"Runaways Traced" by SL Franklin
"An Act of God"
"So We'll Go No More A Roving" by Michelle Knowlden
"Blood, Snow and Classic Cars" by Joseph Hansen

2 in 2001:
"Kinsella's Saloon" by Gregory Fallis
"God Sees the Truth, But Waits" by Tolstoy

4 in 2002:
"Sticks on the Prowl" by June Levine
"The Ring in the Sand" by Eleanor Brower
"Bringing in the Blossoms" by Dan Crawford
"A Slew of Slayers" by John Dirckx

5 in 2003:
"More Deadly to Give"
"The Void"
"Height Advantage"
"A Period of Adjustment"
"The House on Back Street"

4 in 2004:
"Paying for Rain"
"The Gift Horse"
"Burden of Pity" by Ann Woodward
"A Matter of Policy"

8 in 2005:
"A Method to Her Madness" by Tom Savage
"The Wall"
"Journey to Oblivion"
"Remember Me"
"Yellow Leaves"
"Too Much Dickens"
"Mongol Mash"
"Sleeping with the Plush"

8 in 2006:
"It Could Be Murder" by Percy Spurlark Parker
"The Heart Has Reasons"
"Counting Coup"
"Humbug" by Steve Hockensmith
(Christmas Card Artwork for Dell Publishing)
"Marley's Package"
"Return of Jasper Kohl"

7 in 2007:
"More Dead Than Alive"
"German Johnson and the Lost Horizon"
"The Guardians"
"Too Cold a Trail"
"Killing Time" by Rhys Bowen
"The Voice at the Barbican Gate" by Eric Rutter
"Red Herring House" by James Powell

7 in 2008:
"Death at Kerameikos"
"Mind Game"
"Feat of Clay" by Donald Moffitt
"No. 40 Basin Street"
"The Icicle Judgement" by Mike Culpepper (?)
"Pandora's Mistake"
"Shanks Gets Killed"

6 in 2009:
"Silicon Valley Tango" by Diana Deverell
"Real Men Die"
"The Necklace of Glass" by Mike Culpepper (?)
"The TrollFarm Killing" by Mike Culpepper
"Requiem for Antlers" by Rich Alderman
"True Test" by BK Stevens

5 in 2010:
(for Isaac Asimov Science Fiction Magazine) 2 planet maps
"Who Murdered Mama?" by Robert S. Levinson
"Shell Game" by Neil Schofield
"The Berzerk Feud" by Mike Culpepper
"The Witch-Couple" by Mike Culpepper

4 in 2011:
"Blue Amber" by William Burton McCormick
"Last Call" by Wayne J Gardiner (published Jan/Feb 2012)
"O'Nelligan and the Lost Fates" by Michael Nethercott (published March 2012)
"Mr. Crockett and the Bear" by Evan Lewis (published May 2012)

3 in 2012:
"The Last Supper"by Jane K. Cleland (published June 2012)
"The Dead Man's Daughter"by Philip DePoy (published April 2013)
"Big Watts" by Doc Finch (published September 2012)

7 in 2013:
"Hitting the Breaks" by Gina Paoli (published June 2013)
"Stimulus Money" by Dan Warthman (published July/August 2013)
"Two Men, One Gun"
"The Queen of Yongju-Gol" by Martin Limon (published November 2013)
"The Psychic Investigator" by Janice Law (published December 2013)
"The Curious Case of Rabbit and the Temple Goddess" by Leah R. Cutter (published January/February 2014)
"Sitting Ducks"

08 October 1989

Early Postcards

In my first year in business, I had a lot of time on my hands, and spent as much as possible on self promotion. I sent out a lot of black and white postcards this year, researching all the names myself using reference books and pulling names and addresses out of mastheads at the library, and then hand typing and printing labels and licking a lot of stamps. These two went out in October of this first year and according to notes scribbled on the back, I sent out 350 of the cartoon image above, and 500 of the caricature postcard pictured below.

15 September 1989

On The Town Cover

Six months after launching my freelance career, I landed my first cover illustration assignment, and boy was I excited. This was a local arts magazine, called On The Town, which was handed out free at various local venues, and they wanted an all-inclusive 'season sampler' cover, for which I pitched the idea of a crowded scene of every possible artistic situation I could think of done in a loose cartoon style. It is amazing how much time I must've spent on this one. I remember the original art was somewhere in the neighborhood of 24 x 36 inches. The pay was a whopping 100 dollars. But I was able to grab lots and lots of free copies when it hit the newstands. Another nice bonus, was the fact that they couldn't decide between my various styles, and also wanted another cover done in the spring of the following year. If I remember correctly, they were both commisioned at the same time.

By September of my first year in business, my only clients consisted of local design agencies, and publications (Grand Rapids Magazine started using me for black and white cartoon work - the art director ended up being a fellow I went to college with), and work funneled through my previous employer (and the occasional gag cartoon sale). My first big paying job was a pair of pastel drawings for a couple of book covers for a local publisher, Baker Book House, which was in September of '09. I don't remember the book titles, but I remember one of them was a picture of a lion's face (I don't remember the other one).

15 August 1989


My experience with oil paints is limited, to say the least. This was the last oil painting I would do for nearly 15 years. I did this one in the summer of '89 while awaiting assignments. Been hanging in my bedroom for years, as a constant nagging reminder to paint more often (didn't work).

01 July 1989


These are a few more pastels probably from around '88 or '89. Some of them were done with the 'limited edition' poster market in mind, others were just done for fun and experience. The piece below was rather large, and I went so far as to enter it in a local art competition (didn't get in). I eventually gave it to a friend and it hangs in their living room.

I also did a fair share of pastel drawings from old photographs that I picked up at flea markets. This one below was one of these. Another one, of a girl wearing an oversized hat, ended up being bought by the local community college where it still hangs (the last I heard). The 'girl with a hat' picture I ended up doing a copy of, and gave one of them to my sister, who has it hanging in her office. (I may get a picture of it yet and post it here)

01 June 1989

Magazine Ad

Also, during this first year in business, I placed a small ad in an industry magazine (I don't even remember the name of the magazine). It only ran once and as far as I know, passed relatively unnoticed. I wouldn't do another 'magazine ad' for nearly two decades, when I took the 'ispot' up on one of of their 'Communication Arts' ad specials.

10 May 1989


Shortly after the time we found out that we were to expect a baby at the end of the year, my grandfather died of a heart attack. My grandfather, or 'Papa' as us grandkids called him, had dreams of an art career in his youth, but the depression and the demands of a growing family made it necessary to find more practical employment, yet he continued to throw his creative impulses into his everyday life, through creative carpentry, and an oil painting hobby (I still have his homemade art painting box where I store my own oil paints). I wish he could've lived to see me on my feet as a freelance artist, and I like to think he would've gotten a certain amount of satisfaction out of it. I did this pastel portrait of him shortly after his death and it still hangs in my grandmother's bedroom (she is in her 90s now). I have many fond memories of summers spent at their Whitefish Bay cabin on Lake Superior near Paradise Michigan (me and my brother were usually shipped up there for the last half of the summer to escape hay fever allergies), and of wild blueberry picking and hunting for agates on the shore.

01 May 1989

First Mailing

The first mailings I sent out were single folded brochures with black and white on one side, and a color image on the front. I used the same color self portrait on a couple different versions of this mailer, saving on printing by reusing the same 'back' and then imprinting different black and white on the back side. This portrait I had done the previous year as part of a life drawing class assignment, and it would also be picked up the next spring by an 'artist how-to' magazine as an example of pastel portraiture techniques.

Obviously I am completely floundering around looking for a style, and have included everything but the kitchen sink on these brochures, and most of it pretty amateurish. Surprising I ever got any work out of these, but according to some notes that I had scribbled on the back of the samples, I did get a few confirmed bites from these early mailers.

The interesting thing about the first one, is that it contains a piece of artwork that is the only surviving image from my two years of art school (the contour line drawing of the 'drum corps cadets'). I also included a few black and white halftone photos of some of my pastel work (the cat and the lighthouse can be seen elsewhere in this blog), one of my earliest attempts at scratchboard illustration, some bizarre line and cartoon doodles, and a couple of intricate looking stippled drawings that I really don't remember where they came from (the witch and the hot dog/beer art) - they might be more college work, but I'm also thinking that they look somewhat inspired by clip art samples that we were starting to get at work through the 'dynamic graphics' company - and I might have been thinking I could get work as a 'clip art' illustrator.

The second mailer was more of the same, a lot of conflicting styles and approaches, including a pencil drawing, a caricature and some crosshatch line art. The black and white halftone of a pastel on this brochure was from a large color piece that I had given to my brother in law to decorate his office, and which I haven't seen in many years (but is apparently still hanging there).

These old mailers really make me cringe, but there is a little consolation in the fact, that I probably only sent about a couple hundred of each of them out, so they probably weren't seen much. I also seem to remember sending out a couple 'caricature' brochures, one of them featuring a crowd of famous authors, and another one of mixed celebrities. Neither survive.