Thursday, September 29, 2011

Michael Foley

Name: Michael Foley

What do you do?
I am a painter, Illustrator, photographer and general smart ass

Where can we find your work?
My work can be found online through my website ( which links to the many social sites where I post often. I regularly show at the Kaleid Gallery in San Jose. Also I frequently show in different galleries in San Francisco and Los Angeles currently.

What inspires you to create and how do you keep motivated when things get tough?
I find myself inspired often by very random things. wondering around I watch people and pay close attention to the mundane, this is where you will notice a lot of people’s quirks. Sometimes it might be something going on in this world, something happening in the community or something completely internal that needs to come out. Things get tough? It seems it has been quite tough for longer than I can remember, to be honest it has become a very helpful inspiration. If life was comfortable and perfect it would be hard to create anything honest. There are many times when I am not motivated, when I feel a block, so I move to another medium which requires me to think and work differently, it actually has helped me to come back and tackle the piece I was stuck on refreshed and able to finish.

What do you think is more important content/finished product or technique/process?
You know I used to be more about the finished product. Perhaps because I have met so many people who claim to be “Artists” and always talk about being an artist and rarely ever make anything. Really they are merely playing a character, because when they do make something with full drama and flayer it tends to be some trite cliche. Seeing this utter crap inspires me to work harder and not to be just like that. However over the years I have become more 50/50 towards the finished product vs technique. There are some loose and sketchy work by artists that I love immensely. Look at Egon Schiele, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Raymond Saunders, Yoshitaka Amano’s loose works where it’s raw, you get to see how they work and I just love that. It inspires me to create and try new things, to look at thing differently. Sometimes it’s the experiment and trying something outside of your usual forte that can be truly exciting. I know there are pieces I have made which were loose and technically not my best but I learned from them a lot, and some of those are my favorites because of that growth.

Who are some people who influence and/or inspire you?
Irene Hentschke, Maile & Malia Sing, Kendra Jacobs, Lacey Bryant, Hans Zimmer, Christopher Nolan, Danny Devito, Lloyd Kaufman, Hideo Kojima, Akira Yamaoka, Mike Patton, Cevin Key, Yoshitako Amano, Egon Schiele, Klimpt, Raymond Saunders, Jim Lee, John Kricfalusi, Jackson Publick, Amy Tan, Neil gaimen, David Fincher, Jeff Soto, Gumpei Yokoi, Oprah, Trent Reznor, Lovecraft, John Waters, Margaret Cho, Poe, Hayao Miyazaki, Shigero Miyamoto, all for so many different reasons.

If you could be any fictional character who would you be?
I think I would be Bender from Futurama. Simply enjoying life to it’s fullest.

When do you get your best ideas?
It usually comes when I am not near any art supplies, often at night. I am totally a night person, so I tend to function better late at night.

What materials/tools do you use most to create your work?
Right now I am diving into oils. Before that it was primarily acrylic, sumi ink, graphite.

Are you self taught or formally educated? How do you think that has influenced or affected your work?
Well I am completely self taught. Everyday I am learning something new and growing. Missing out on the formal art education I do feel like my work is not as refined as I would like, though it’s getting better everyday. I Know quite a few people who graduated from the formal training who are no longer artists and now have huge debt. Their experiences of going to school to be brow beaten into not wanting to create art anymore while incurring future debt seems like I made the right choice. I have not paid a person to mold me into someone else’s style, I am proud to know my lack of funds and stubbornness has been a great blessing in disguise.

If your creative work was edible what would it taste like?
like the perfect Cannoli or cheesecake accompanied with the most amazing espresso in the world. A rich complex taste that fills you and gets you excited.

When you are not creating what do you like to do?
Spending time with people I care about, enjoying life and laughing my ass off. Going to different clubs to see the bands I like play. Seeing a good film. Getting lost somewhere I have never been and exploring what’s around. Reading the piles of books I keep meaning to get to. Traveling (how I miss that one) and playing video games, yes I love videogames.

How did you learn to access your creative talents and gain the confidence to put it out there for everyone to experience?
I used to draw comics all the time as a kid and wanted to be this animator and comic book artist. I used to keep to myself and just draw all the time. As for coming out to showing my work, I’m pretty insecure and truly an introverted person, have been my entire life. I used to let my insecurities keep my work hidden. Eventually I overcame this, I told myself (or insecurity) to fuck off and just start showing my work. Expecting things to be a massive failure. After a few years It has become a lot easier and I am not as introverted as I once was.

What advice would you give others just beginning their creative adventures?
If you are creating just for the fun of it as a hobby, just dive in and make it a treat to yourself. Meet other creative types and get involved in your local art communities. Like learning a foreign language, immersion is the best teacher. If you are planning on making this driving passion your career, have some practical common sense. Ideally have a regular job to stay afloat. I say this because this is a field in which you are easily exploited. I have run into many, MANY promoters, bands and start up companies that ask that you work hard to make something for nothing. Often you are treated as if this will be a great opportunity just for you, the proverbial carrot over the horses head, for the artist the carrot is often called “exposure”. Don’t fall for it. Also don’t let rejection get you down, it’s really hard to deal with at first, but you have to develop a tough skin. Also, keep making work on a regular basis.


  1. Michael is a wonderful and imaginative artist. It is always great to see his work. I especially like the way he uses color.

  2. Interesting that you list Egon Schiele as an influence. Now that you mention it, I can definitely see the influence of his style in your work.