I have the pleasure in interviewing the fabulous Artist Jane Foster and delighted she was able to take time out from her very busy schedule to answer some questions so that we can learn more about her background and plans for the future. Jane’s work is both loved and respected throughout the world, she has built up a huge following on her Facebook and blog and continues to surprise and delight with her simple, bold scandinavian retro influenced designs. I fell in love with her work from the moment I discovered her and overjoyed we are a stockist of her designs.
Describe your business set up and how long have you been established?
My name’s Jane Foster and I run a small business called Jane Foster Designs. I started this around 7 years ago. I’m an illustrator/screen printer/textile designer/maker/author.
I design, screen print and make retro toys, prints and cushions which I sell all over the world through my website and Etsy shop. I’m also an author of a craft book ‘Fun with Fabric’ and my second book ‘Craft with Kids’ is coming out in January. (More books are in the pipeline for the coming few years).
Can you tell me about your work studio and where it’s based?
I currently rent a studio at Dartington, Devon but we’re in the process of building our own studio in our garden at home which should be finished in January 2015.
What does your typical day involve?
A typical day involves dropping our daughter off to school, driving straight to the studio (a half hour journey) and starting the day with admin. I check emails, print out orders from the previous night (these are usually from the States due to the time difference), check my Facebook and blog and deal with any wholesale orders / questions/ invoices etc.
I can sometimes have several hundred emails so this stage can be a few hours. I then put together my orders, checking that I have everything and if not, making a list of what needs topping up/printing/making. The last third of the day in the studio is usually sewing and putting together the various toy panels to take home for my evening’s work.
I take my packages to the post office on the way home and have ‘family time’ after school until our daughter goes to bed at 7pm. I’m then stuffing and sewing toys from 8pm -midnight. If I have new products to design or illustrations to do, this is often done in this window of the day too as it’s a good quiet time to focus.
I often work a 10 hour day which is longer than when I used to teach, but I love the job I do so don’t mind putting in the hours.
I always have Saturday off to take Polly out for hot chocolate and cake and Sundays are pretty much always spent as a family going to one of the local beaches.
What products/collection of your brand is your favourite?
At the moment, I really love my Jen and Joe dolls and hope to introduce more to the collection.
How do you gain inspiration for your work?
I often gain inspiration from drawing alongside my 6 year old daughter. I also love looking at children’s books from the 50’s and 60’s. More often though, the designs come from my head with no real planning – I just put pen to paper and see what happens!
Whose work in the field do you admire and why?
I love Dick Bruna’s work (Miffy!) as he’s been doing what he loves whilst making millions of children around the world happy looking at his books.
How would you describe your style?
My style is Scandinavian inspired, retro bold, happy, quirky and naive.
How did you get started down this route and what did you do prior?
I originally trained in music after I left school. I spent 5 years at the Royal Northern College of Music followed by a PGCE. I then taught music for 15 years but started to notice it wasn’t making me happy anymore. I noticed that whenever the school holidays started, I always threw myself into being creative. I re-discovered the joy of screen printing and began to get involved in exhibiting at Open Houses in the Brighton Festival. It was here that I was spotted by The Art Group who then had my work published in Habitat as prints and cards. I was also picked up by Kay Mawer who was re-launching the 70s brand Clothkits. I designed children’s toys and clothes for her. I started selling my screen prints and screen pointed bags in shops and galleries and started to realise that I could take the scary gamble to leave teaching! It was very hard as I wasn’t used to not having a regular salary.
What are your goals for the future?
My future goals are to spend more time on designing/illustrating and to attempt to delegate some of the more time consuming other activities to others. I shall be working on several pre-school books, designing more products and collaboration with companies who want to use my designs and produce products with them on.
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
I think I always thought I’d be a teacher but deep down wanted to be an artist. I’m from a family of teachers so it just seemed an obvious thing to do. I think I also thought it was a safer and more secure route!
To see our full range of Jane Foster goodies, please click here.