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MEET: Jane Foster
Today we are pleased to meet Totnes based textile designer Jane Foster. Jane is known for her bright and bold screen printed textiles and she also uses gorgeous retro fabrics to make soft toys, bags and cushions. Her designs are also available printed on paper as cards and as framed artwork.
Please tell us about yourself and how you got started?
My background was in initially in music and after years of being a music specialist in schools, I decided I wanted a career change that would enable me to be a mum and work from home without having to send my child into childcare at a very young age. I loved screen printing when I was at secondary school so I did a week’s course many years later at a wonderful print workshop in Brighton. I was then hooked and knew that I wanted to try a career using this. I was extremely fortunate in that I was spotted (in an Open House during the Brighton Festival) and picked up by The Art Group who then sold my designs to Habitat. I was also spotted by the new founder of Clothkits just before it was re-launched so I started designing for them too. I also started to make and sell items from the vast vintage fabrics I’d been collecting and everything seemed to gradually grow. I started selling on my own website and on Etsy and I got into a few magazines.
Can you tell us a bit about where you make your products and please can we take a sneaky peek?
I make everything at home, here in Totnes, Devon. I screen print in a very tiny utility room and I sew and draw in my studio and on our kitchen table.
What has been your favourite design that you have made and why?
I like my toy cats – I always thought they were slightly strange looking and a bit quirky and they have been my most popular product.
Your designs always use lovely bright colours; where/what/who influences you the most?
I’m definitely influenced by the 70s and recall my home (and some of my mum’s friends’ homes) being full of colour and children dressed in Clothkits clothing! My mum always liked modern, Scandinavian design and primary colours so I’m sure this has rubbed off on me. I have travelled to several Scandinavian countries because I like the design and particularly love the Finnish company Marimekko. I also love fabric and ceramics from the 50s and 60s, especially Heal’s fabrics.
Do you ever have creative slumps? What do you do then?
I tend to have these when I am commissioned to design something for someone else as it is very hard to guess at what someone really wants! I am far better doing designs for myself that people may then choose to use. If I have a slump, I try working in a café instead of at home.
Running your own business is hard work, how do you balance your work and home life?
It is a challenge – I have to make sure we have lots of family time at the weekend, see friends (mine and my daughter’s) at some point in the week and then I work late at night once my daughter is asleep. I have to be quite regimented about this, even if I am tired!
If you had time what new craft would you like to learn?
I would love to learn the art of making jewellery using silver. I would design chunky abstract rings and pendants.
What advice would you give someone starting a creative business?
Firstly, prepare yourself for gradual growth! Secondly, don’t be tempted to buy materials in bulk (else you may find you are left with years later!). It is also important to create what you like yourself without trying to follow trends. Finally, be prepared to work hard doing what you love.
Do you have any special projects you are working on lately, if so can you tell us a bit about them?
I have a few things up my sleeve that I am afraid I can’t yet mention but you will hopefully find out soon! I also plan to design some more fabric kits and will hopefully have some more time to design some new screen prints.
How do you get the word out about your work and where can we buy your work?