There is no mistaking a Jane Foster book when you see it on the shelf.
The textile designer turned children’s author has an eye-catching and quirky illustration style, influenced by her love of all things Scandi, Fifties and Sixties, and the work of Dick Bruni.
The result is captivating for babies – and cool for parents.
Jane has published 11 board books to date and her latest project is a series of city guides for small travellers. London and New York came out earlier this year, with Washington DC and Paris published this month.
We chatted to Jane about her inspirations and aspirations…
Why did you start your city guides board book series?
“I was asked if I would be interested by my publishers. I think a top London store said it would be a great idea as they loved my work. I always start my books with a theme to base the illustrations around.
“It was such an exciting idea to me as I love the challenge of illustrating out of my comfort zone. I hadn’t really spent much time drawing buildings and landmarks, but discovered I really enjoy illustrating them, especially more challenging ones such as Sacre Coeur with all its details. I also enjoyed illustrating Central Park in my own retro Sixties type of style.
“The books are aimed at babies and preschool children. They make a great little guide for parents taking their children to these various cities as they can look out for the landmarks and animals.
“For example, in Paris they can spot Notre Dame, a 2CV car, a croissant, poodle and a patisserie (and a few others). These books will hopefully help adults to engage with their children in a fun way and I’m hoping the bright illustrations will be memorable for years to come.”
When and where do you like to draw?
“I prefer to draw in daylight but have been known to draw late into the night on many occasions if I’m working on a deadline. This often results in eye strain and headaches the next day so isn’t advisable!
“I love a mixture of drawing at home in my studio, on the kitchen table and in local cafes.”
Your illustrative style is very distinctive – are you ever tempted to try something completely different?
“Yes, but not yet! I think it’s important to be known and recognised with a distinctive style to become firmly established. I think it’s probably one of my strengths and an important quality to have in this industry.
“It’s the style that comes naturally to me and although I admire many other illustrators who have a completely different style, it’s the way I naturally draw at the moment. I can imagine if I were to illustrate for older children then my work might become more detailed and perhaps with finer lines.”
Would you ever like to do books for a slightly older age group?
“Yes, but in the future – there’s no rush! I’m enjoying the preschool books for the moment and feel there are many more I could do before I venture into new avenues.”
Is there another writer or illustrator you’d like to collaborate with?
“I haven’t really thought about this much before as at the moment, my designs are quite static and design-led. I’m not sure my current style lends itself to a narrative.
“It’s something I will consider with a new style in the future. I’d also be interested in working on some simple animations for preschool children.”
What’s your top tip for parents about sharing books and reading with a child?
“Choose books that you love so that your enthusiasm shines through! There’s nothing worse than reading a book to a child when you’re fed up with it.
“Another good tip is getting your child to try to read the book, or at least try to remember the various pages if it’s a simple alphabet book, for example.
“I also love making stories up for my daughter and that way, I can include everything that I know she will enjoy.”