Here we are with Squeegee Club Interview Vol. 2 and we're so SO chuffed that the wonderful Jane Foster agreed to chat all things screen printing with us! We have been avid fans and Instagram followers of Jane since we started our own screen printing journey all those years ago. Like us she is a huge fan of Dick Bruna (the creator of Miffy) and bold, simply, playful design. She also has the most beautiful studio ever! So grab a cuppa and enjoy, then head to Jane's links at the bottom of the interview!
Hi Jane! Please tell us a bit about yourself and how you first got in to screen printing?
My first introduction to screen printing was when I was a teenager at secondary school. I had a really cool Art teacher called Mrs Bruce who had thick black eye liner, thick black hair and was an amazing artist. I loved her style, she was very kind and she believed in me. (which always helps!) I wasn’t great at ‘life drawing’ or sketching with charcoal but I absolutely loved the technique of screen printing as I loved the flat bold colours you could create on paper and fabric. She let me have my own table by the window to print on during lunch breaks and she also let me listen to my own music through my little Walkman. (I’m showing my age!) She had a long roll of cotton fabric in the Art Cupboard (I still remember that wonderful cupboard today!) and let me screen print my own curtains using cut out paper stencils.*Little did I know that it would then be 20 years later that I would then discover the love of screen printing again!
You have a very distinct bold style, where do you get your inspiration and influences from?
Thank you! I’ve always loved bold primary colours as I was born in 1970. My parents had quite funky taste - my Mum shopped in Habitat on Tottenham Court Road and I rememberer a wonderful bright green sofa with chrome arms! She liked Marimekko fabrics which I also grew up loving. She also loved simple Danish design with no frills.
Like us, a lot of your screen printed work is one colour. What makes you want to work this way?
Perhaps in the beginning it was because I used to hand cut the stencils myself and it was much easier printing in one colour! I also love the simplicity of one colour and the challenge of trying to make an image work just using one colour.
We are very envious of your studio! Please tell us a bit about it and how the space has developed over time!
Thank you so much! We chose to buy the quirky house we live in because it had a wide garden that we could build a studio in. This was honestly the main criteria! I felt I needed to work from home but have a degree of separation to the house. My clever partner Jim built the studio around seven years ago using insulated panels which we then clad and painted black (being inspired by Derek Jarman’s studio in Dungeness). It’s almost 29m square and had to be this size as at that time, I was needing an area to screen print, an area to sew and an area for my office. It’s changed a lot over the past 7 years as I’m now illustrating much more- I have lots of shelves of vintage children’s books that I collect, shelves of my own published children’s books and lots of plan chests full of my drawings as I still create everything my hand in the old fashioned way!
In the past you have used both paper stencils for printing and designs burnt to screen, do you prefer one method over the other?
I like the detail you can get from printing fine line illustrations burnt to a screen but I also love how creating a paper stencil can give you a unique not so ‘perfect’ line which can only happen with scissors. Using scissors can also encourage you to play more with shapes and you often get unexpected suprises!
What would you say is the best thing about screen printing?
I love the simple physical act of pulling ink down a screen and then lifting the screen off the fabric to see a result! It never stops being pleasing, especially when the print is precise and neat! *I also adore creating products such as toys, cushions and purses from the fabric - seeing how it can be used in a three dimensional way.
And the worst?
The costly mistakes! Those times when for whatever the reason (albeit the ink is drying on the screen as it’s too humid ….etc.) mistakes are made. It can be so frustrating!
What would be your top tip for anyone wanting to try screen printing?
Go for it! Take an evening class (when Lockdown finishes)- I re-discovered screen printing 20 years later when I found out I was living round the corner from a print studio in Brighton! It felt like ‘coming home’! I was a full time music teacher at the time but managed to book ‘drop in’ sessions in the evenings so I could print like crazy!
What is your ultimate dream for your business?
To create a balance between working on projects / books that I love whilst also having time to be with my family and to enjoy life.* I’ve just finished working on my first two Picture Books so would love to work on more to create a series. I’d love to create a whole brand around a character or set of characters (a bit like Dick Bruna with his character ‘Miffy’) that could be Licensed, animated and give joy to children and parents all around the world.
Lastly, please tell us about your squeegee! Do you have more than one?
Yes, I’ve lots and yes, I do have a favourite! I’ve a mixture of sizes - my favourite is a medium sized aluminium one with rubber - covered in ink. The weight and feel of it is just right for me.