Hello lovely people! New week and new post on the blog 🙂 This time I interview someone I’ve admired since I moved to the UK and discovered her work, the lovely Jane Foster, illustrator and textile designer based in Devon and whose creations I am sure you’ve seen in book stores, the haberdashery at John Lewis and many other places! (I’ve got at home this lovely basket I use for my estudio 🙂 ). Jane is an amazing screen-pinter and she has also published several books for kids. Her love for the 50s and 60s scandi prints and designs are the based for her signature style. If you want to know more about her, keep reading! 🙂
When did you first discover your passion for drawing and illustration. And what about screen-printing?
I think I always enjoyed drawing when I was a child but didn’t ever feel I was any good at it – just enjoyed it. I was first introduced to a bit of screen printing when I was at secondary school – in those days, all the stencils were paper cut. I then had a break from it when I spent 5 years at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester studying the violin and piano and later did a PGCE in music and expressive arts in order to then go into teaching music. It was years later when I was around 36 that I then did a screen printing Summer course in Brighton and became hooked!
Do you still keep your first designs? What do you think when you look at them now?
Yes, I’ve still got all my work from my O’level and A’level art – I didn’t do particularly well at Art – I was far too graphic in style and didn’t do tonal shading! It didn’t stop me enjoying it but I guess it did make me decide on a career in music instead of trying to go to art college. At the time, I was far better at playing the violin!
How did you develop your style? I’ve read on your site that you are very influenced by Scandinavian prints from the 50s and 60s…
I collected fabric and ceramics from those years which must have been a huge influence to me. I visited Denmark and Sweden and was blown over by the designs of Stig Lindberg. I also started being obsessed with mid Century Modern design, furniture, architecture and pattern. I guess I always tried to keep my work simple and in one colour. It’s not always easy as every mark you make counts!
And how would you describe your style?
Bold, simple, happy and naive.
Which of your precious vintage possessions you cherish the most?
I love my 50s Birch Ply sewing box that looks like a piece of sculpture and also my 60s Kandya sidebars and kitchen unit.
Any artist or maker you admire?
How is your creative process from just an idea or draft to the final piece? I imagine it is a different when talking about a kids’ book, a design for a mug or a screen-printed design for a bag or a basket…
They all start off as simple fine line drawings with a black pen. It’s a different approach to designing a design for a mug as you have to think how the image will look wrapped around the mug shape – lots of cutting out rectangles of designs and wrapping them round mugs to check the design works! Designing for kids books – you need to keep the images relatively child friendly and not too scary! They love bold bright colours.
What do you enjoy the most of all these aspects of your brand, of all the things you do?
I think I love diversity of what I do – I love having my finger in lots of pies so I don’t get bored.
Which are your essential tools, those that you use on a daily basis?
Fine black line pens, pencils, rubbers, good scissors, pritt stick, good quality paper, a good scanner / printer. Everything I do is by hand before it is scanned in at high resolution.
What inspires you the most regarding work and in general as a person?
I love seeing my designs on products, especially the mugs and books. I also love getting emails from strangers telling me they love my products or that their child loves my books.
What was (and still is) the hardest part of starting your business? Any tips for newbies and other makers?
The uncertainly is very hard to deal with. I left the security of a salaried job for a career that I’ve needed to carve our from nothing – in the earlier days (and years) I wasn’t sure from day to day, and month to month if I was going to sell anything or make enough money to live. I always had back up plans and asked myself every morning, ‘How am I going to make money today?’. I would keep trying to come up with new ideas, many of which failed but many of which didn’t. I became good at facing rejection and good at picking myself up again, treating each day as a new start. When I first started to sell some of my products, I taught part time in order to pay the bills.
Any big projects or exciting news coming soon?
Yes, I’m working on many new mugs for later next year and there will be more books coming but I can’t yet say what!
Now, for a super quick mini questionnaire!
*What do you like to do on your spare time? I love going to the beach with my family.
*Book you are reading at the moment? The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo.
*A movie that inspires you? I still love the golden oldie Truly Madly Deeply – I love Juliet Stephenson and Alan Rickman and the Joni Mitchel songs and Bach cello music in this film.
*Food you can’t live without? Chocolate.
*I would wear this everyday… Stripes! Usually striped long sleeved t-shirt.
*If you could choose someone you admire to spend the day with, who would that be? Oral Kiely or Kate Bush!
*Favourite spot to get lost? Brighton Sunday Boot Sale!
So did you know Jane already? If not, hope you liked getting to know her a bit more and see you here next week!!
Picture credits: Jane Foster.