Jane Foster is quirky designer from Devon known for her bold and bright character artwork.
Jane was born and raised in Hornchurch in Essex. As a child, she had three main loves – music, art and gymnastics. She spent hours on end playing the recorder, drawing and doing handstands. Jane didn’t have a TV growing up so had plenty of time to practice her violin and piano and make things, she always had a project on the go. Jane’s creativity may have come from her Dad who also loved making things, some of his most memorable were a fibreglass canoe, a hexagonal summer house and a guitar all handmade!
Jane had a good ear and perfect pitch so, at the age of thirteen, she attended the Junior Academy of Music in London and spent every Saturday studying the violin and piano from 9am to 5pm. Jane loved it and music became a bit of obsession occupying most of her time. It wasn’t until Jane was in lower sixth that she first discovered screen printing – she really enjoyed it and this was when Jane Foster the designer was born. She showed real enthusiasm and talent for screen printing and was encouraged and inspired by her art teacher. She was allowed to use the art room at lunch listening to her Walkman and have her own designated table. Jane quickly learnt to cut paper stencils and effectively screen print on fabric and t shirts.
Despite a love for screen printing, at seventeen Jane’s talents lay more within music so she left school to study violin and piano at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester for five years. It was here that Jane developed her work ethic and drive as she had to practice for hours and hours in solitude. The art didn’t completely dry up at college as Jane was asked to create an art exhibition in the foyer with the other art-loving students.
After leaving music college, Jane did her PGCE in music, drama, art and dance before volunteering for two years in Phnom Penh in Cambodia. She then lived in Brighton where she initially taught private violin lessons for five years before teaching classroom music for ten years.
Jane chose to leave teaching two weeks before adopting her daughter in 2008 as she wanted to carve out a new career path with sat alongside being a mum. Although a skilful juggling act balancing motherhood and work, Jane was driven to make it work as she didn’t want to return to teaching or put her daughter in childcare. She rediscovered the joy of screen printing and was spotted by The Art Group who sold her prints and cards in Habitat and other stores. She then progressed to be a textile designer screen printing fabric to make bags, cushions and quirky toys. Very impressively, Jane quickly began to sell wholesale all over the world from her simple website. Jane’s work was sold in Ikea and other large retailers, her social media presence rapidly grew and she began attracting more and more collaborations. Jane was approached by Pavilion publisher who she worked with on her first books on craft followed by Templar publisher who she signed a deal with to illustrate her own baby board books. Jane then gave up selling wholesale to concentrate on becoming a full-time illustrator.
In 2011, Jane first discovered MAKE International and bought a few of their already existing mugs online. The delivery address was directed to ‘Jane Foster Designs’ which sparked the curiosity of MAKE International’s Head of Design, Keith Brymer Jones. He looked Jane up, loved her work so got in touch to see if she was interested in working with him on a collaborative range of ceramics and homeware. It was several years later, when the time felt right, that the first set of Jane Foster mugs – the panda, fox, cat and lion – were produced. Since then, Jane has designed over forty mugs and glasses with MAKE International in her studio in Devon and has also collaborated on a haberdashery range and kitchen homewares. Jane’s collections, inspired by 60s and Scandinavian design, are charmingly colourful and bold and are the perfect statement piece for any home.
As well as her collections with MAKE International, Jane has been illustrating more books and will have an impressive twenty-one published and sold in many different countries by the end of 2017. It’s quite remarkable how Jane is now able to work as a fulltime illustrator/maker just over 8 years since she left her teaching job!
Outside of work, Jane loves going to the local Devon beaches with her family, going on short city breaks and meeting friends for coffee. She also enjoys helping her partner Jim work on their unique 60s style house as they both love DIY.