Donny Foley is currently the gallery manager for the Pacific Arts League in Palo Alto. Donny has also created his own illustrated characters, Donbon, Bert the cat, and Skunk-Truck, who live and make mischief in the Donbon Universe. Though he has slowed the creation of these comics during the pandemic, Donny looks to return and further explore their world in the months to come.
In our conversation, Donny explains the creation and transformation of his artwork as well as exploration in “Word Painting.” (https://www.donbonsuniverse.com/word-paintings)
Below is article abour Donny’s journey in our 2012 article from issue 4.3, “Branding”
This episode’s music is “408” by Jack Pavlina. Read more about Jack in Issue 14.1 Winter 2022 — release date: Dec. 9, 2021: https://bit.ly/Discover141
Follow Jack at @jackpavlinamusic
Welcome to the wonderfully whimsical, twisted, and delightfully inappropriate world of Donny Foley, aka Donbon. This Donny does it all, comics, painting, children’s books, vintage resale, cartoons and more. He is not out to change the world with his art, he just wants to make people laugh and brighten their day.
What do you do?
I mainly work in digital art, it’s much more forgiving. I do a lot of things like clocks, calendars, stationary, but I’m mostly known for my comics. Recently I finished my first children’s book titled “Khristina and the Lost Imagination;” it’s a very cute story about a little girl and her cat. My buddy and I started a cartoon called “Vitamin D.” I’m very excited about this because I’ve always wanted to make cartoons since I was a child. I also help run a vintage resale business with my girlfriend and her best friend called, Out of Print Vintage.
Where can we find your work?
I’m featured all over the place currently, for instance: KALEID Gallery and… actually that’s about it. My website is full of goodies though www.DonbonsUniverse.com.
What inspires you to create and how do you keep motivated when things get tough?
I’ve met a ton of people in my life who do what I do, just hella better. But, they’re content just throwing it all away for some crap job that makes them unhappy. I don’t want to be like them so that usually gets me motivated.
What do you think is more important content/finished product or technique/process?
Personally I think the content is the most important part. If your content sucks then your technique and finished products will do nothing but just look good.
Who are some people who influence and/or inspire you?
Mike Patton, Jhonen Vasquez, my girlfriend’s cat, Spot, Trey Parker, Matt Stone, the people of Pixar, Winsor McCay (Little Nemo), J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter), Shigeru Miyamoto & Takashi Tezuka (Legend of Zelda), a lot of my old bosses (because they’re something I strive not to be), and a bunch of my friends who I won’t name because if they read this, I’m sure it will go to their heads and their heads are just fine the way they are.
If you could be any fictional character who would you be?
Little Nemo, that kid had some sweet adventures.
When do you get your best ideas?
Ha ha randomly my most genius ideas come to me while I’m in the shower. Then I get exited (not too excited) about this new idea and can’t wait to work on it. I think it’s because I have nothing to do in there but think. Oh and clean.
What materials/tools do you use most to create your work?
My good old reliably unreliable computer, mouse, and wacom tablet. (All of which are falling apart.)
Are you self-taught or formally educated? How do you think that has influenced or affected your work?
For the most part I’m self-taught. I’d be lying if I said I never had anyone give me a bunch of pointers. I even took a photoshop class once to sharpen my skills. But the teacher was never there so I didn’t really learn a whole lot. I think not having formal training is nice, I’m able to form my own style that wasn’t some teacher’s that cost me a lot of money and time to mimic.
If your creative work was edible what would it taste like?
I would like it to taste like rocky road cereal from the ‘80s followed up with an amazing high five. But it would most likely taste like snail urine.
When you are not creating what do you like to do?
I usually go to hospitals and punch babies in the face, maybe drop an atomic elbow or two.
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 make all these over the top and stupid comic strips in high school that everyone loved. The more positive reactions I got, the more confident I’d get. Negative reactions are great too, sometimes they’re even better. They show you what you didn’t see and can help you improve.
What advice would you give others just beginning their creative adventures?
Go to a nice a quiet graveyard all by yourself, find a peaceful shady spot and make yourself comfy. Look around and tell yourself, “I can draw better than everyone here.”
Article originally appeared in Issue 10.0 Seek (Print SOLD OUT)