As part of this month's 'March meet the maker' I want to share with you some behind the scenes information about my work and how everything is made. I've been known to say that my business is a bit like having another child in that both my daughter and my business need lots of time, love, nurturing, dedication, enthusiasm, patience and energy. My daughter is my greatest achievement but I also love my little business which has grown alongside her ever since she was a baby. I've been very fortunate to have made this career from home whilst being with our child. She's inspired me, influenced what and how I create and has been super entwined in much of what what happens here. (She has her own sewing machine and art desk too in the studio!)
Almost everything that happens with my business 'Jane Foster Designs' happens inside our studio. 'Jane Foster Designs' is a small business that I run with the help of my partner. We are just the two of us juggling lots of plates! We're a great team - I have my roles and he has his. More importantly, we've got working together down to a fine art and know when to give each other space! I'm the creative person in this business but my partner is very much behind the scenes helping with orders, packaging, scanning and giving lots and lots of support and encouragement. He's a stay at home Dad who is also renovating our home at the same time. (*He also gets roped into taking the photos of me!)
Everything we produce starts life as an illustration on paper. I always use fine line black pens - a mixture but lately, I'm using Muji pens 0.38 and 0.5 fine line gel pens.They produce a great line and don't smudge. I don't use a graphics tablet, everything is done by hand. If I make a mistake, I glue a piece of paper over it and re-draw. (I've recently bought myself a large new iPad with a pen to draw but haven't yet managed to move over to digital as I still prefer drawing the old fashioned way on paper!)
Illustrating with my obligatory coffee by my side!
If I'm working on one of my new children's books, my partner will scan in my illustrations at very high res to send to the publishers. If I'm going to produce screen prints and products from my illustrations then my partner will scan the illustrations in to then add to acetate to then be exposed onto silk screens. This is something that he taught himself to do (expose silk screens) but as the process involves a large washing booth to clean the screens and is quite time consuming, we now get a local company to expose our silk screens for us to save on time.
My passion for the past twelve years of so has been screen printing. I love the flat finish you get with the process and love how bold the colours can look. I also love screen printing in one colour, often with fine lines, which is perfect for this process. It was around five or six years ago that I made the big decision to only sell products that start life from my illustrations. (Prior to this, I sold products that I made from vintage and retro fabrics from my collection.) Below is a photo from earlier days when I was a HUGE fabric collector. I'd make cushions, quilts and literally hundreds of toys. I would sell them wholesale all over the world and it got to the stage where I couldn't keep up with the demand. I made the decision to stop wholesale to dedicate my time to illustrating and screen printing, thus having time to create new designs.
My daily life now is varied according to whether I'm working on a book or not. Over the past few years I've worked on five or so books a year which has meant that much of my time is spent illustrating. (Which I love doing!) In between books I love creating new products for my web shop and Etsy shop.
I'm very fortunate to have an area in the studio to screen print in. We've an area where we store all our screens, a printing table and an industrial metal sink to wash the screens from.
We've also a dedicated area in the studio where I can store the prints and printed fabric panels. We offer over 100 different products in our shop that I print and make by hand so these need to be stored neatly and be easily accessible. I also need to have enough stock made which can sometimes be a challenge!
I'm often asked what I love making the most and the truthful answer is that I like it all! I love the variety in what I do. I love illustrating, love screen printing my images onto fabrics and love making them into products. Here are some of the products past and present that I've designed and enjoyed making from my screen printed fabric panels below. I mostly print onto cotton or linen. These include toys, toy kits, cushions and purses.
Its was my Nanna that taught me to sew when I was a child. She definitely played a part in my passion for this career. I enjoy sewing on a machine but also love hand sewing as it's very relaxing. I make all my purses and hand line every one. It's time consuming but I do this every night whilst our daughter sleeps. I've done this for the past ten years. It's a time I look forward to as I'm usually illustrating during daylight and is a nice contrast. You can shop the purses I currently have available here.
Below are some of my favourite screen prints past and present.
You can see the prints I currently have available here. I'd love to hear your thoughts - please leave a comment if you'd like to ask me anything.