Chuck Galey | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Chuck Galey

Photo by Daphne Walker Nabors

Award-winning author, writer and illustrator Chuck Galey says he's a child of the Golden Books era. This year, the 59-year-old Greenwood native is the recipient of two grants from the Mississippi Arts Commission, but it took a reality check for Galey to choose a career in art.

Uncertain that his love for art would support him, Galey initially followed an interest in scuba diving, instead studying physics and oceanography. When he discovered that he was prone to seasickness, Galey knew he needed a change of plans. His father offered him some words of advice that set him on the path to becoming an artist and art educator.

"My dad, who was always encouraging, said to me, 'Don't forget your art,'" Galey says.

He came to Starkville to study at Mississippi State University, where he earned his bachelor's degree in commercial art. While in college, he met the woman who would later become his wife, Forrest, and the couple has lived in Jackson for 30-plus years.

Fortunately for Galey, the computer skills he obtained in his pursuit of oceanography were not in vain.

"All of that time when I was working with computers made me comfortable around them from an artistic point of view. I'm now able to use them digitally for digital arts very easily," Galey says.

Art education came into the picture after a change of careers. Galey worked in the advertising industry for six years, but after the birth of his son in 1987, Galey gained a strong interest in illustrations from his son's collection of picture books. He also began looking at daily encounters for inspiration.

"I started looking around at everyday life, and I started discovering that characters surrounded me," Galey says.

Soon, he was participating in summer library readings, furthering his move to becoming an illustrator.

"I never had anybody to come around Greenwood that I knew of that was actually an author or illustrator to show that there's actually a person behind that book," Galey said.

Elementary schools began requesting Galey to work in their creative-arts programs, teaching the process of crafting the words and images for picture books.

In April, Galey participated in a weeklong art residency at Mason Elementary School in Laurel, Miss., as a teaching artist. There, he worked with students to create small, graphic novels. The students created illustrations and plots, and five-minute skits completed the projects.

"(The skits) added a theatrical component to it," Galey said. "It was really fun to watch how they developed their stories."

When it comes to advice about remaining creative, Galey emphasizes the importance of letting ideas flow onto the page, something he admits not always doing.

"It's the idea of sitting down and working on a continual basis. Practice the art of drawing and coming up with ideas, dreaming, writing your stories and getting in the habit of doing that," he says.

Chuck Galey Illustrations is located at 5443 Hartsdale Drive. Visit for more information.

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