Jane Katherine Houghton’s colourful ice-cream illustrations caught my eye on twitter and took me on a journey to the seaside in my mind. Jane is an illustrator and graphic designer from the lovely city of York. She adores all aspects of graphic design, publishing and branding along with the more traditional craft of hand-rendered type, intricate printing and pattern making. She clearly likes experimenting and often blends traditional skills with digital manipulation. I wanted to know more about this dreamer…
Jane, what’s your story? How did you get to where you are today? I really enjoyed studying A-Level English and Spanish alongside Art & Design, so I became a bit undecided and it seemed like massively difficult decision at the time trying to choose what to do, but I went with my instincts and chose to study art, later specialising in graphic design and then illustration. I had three great years at uni, then got myself a job and moved down to London.
Which UNI did you go to and what did you study? I studied Graphic Design at Northumbria in Newcastle upon Tyne. At the start of the second year we specialised in one of three pathways - either branding, publishing or illustration/image-making. I chose to specialise in image-making, though the pathways overlapped in certain respects so it was good that I had control over how ‘specialised’ I would make my work.
Which is your favourite illustration project to date and why? I enjoyed my uni projects immensely but I think I’m enjoying projects more now that I am free to completely do my own thing. I’m really enjoying making typographic prints at the moment, hand-rendered or digital. My most recent is a print using the words and phrases my Gran and Grandad used to say that make me laugh and reminisce; it’s lovely for my family but outside of our circle it probably looks like a load of nonsense!
What did you want to be when you were 10 years old? I started dance classes when I was young and completely fell in love with everything dance, so I think at the age of ten little years I was dreaming of being a star of the stage! Aside from dance, I was always busy drawing, painting, making and generally being creative - So it’s great to be able to start shaping a career doing something I really love.
What’s the proudest moment of your career to date? I don’t know if I can call it a career just yet as I only graduated in 2013! I’m so happy that I managed to get a First Class degree and get a job quite soon out of uni. I’m currently working at a digital production agency so I’m dabbling in all sorts of projects that are relatively new to me; I’m still learning, working out my strengths and favourite interests within design and illustration, so I’m just happy to be working in the industry while I figure things out.
Ok, so which project has been a highlight so far? I was lucky enough to be shortlisted in the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers’ Picturing Time competition. My work was exhibited at Sotheby’s gallery in July/August last summer that was really cool to be involved with.
How do you promote yourself? My website, online profiles such as Behance and personal mailers. I’m looking to enter a couple of competition briefs and exhibitions that will hopefully offer some more exposure to my work.
Do you love or loathe social media? Social media has both positives and negatives, but I think the pros definitely outweigh the cons when you’re a designer. I’ve realised over the last year or so that it’s kind of an essential tool for an aspiring illustrator in terms of communicating, collaborating, promoting yourself and generally being in touch with what is going on in the industry. Sometimes you just need to get on, embrace it and - in my case - be a bit more vocal!
Which tools do you use to create stuff? I start out sketching and doodling with pens and pencils, I’m a Sharpie lover and tend to use these when producing hand rendered type. I like to keep an open mind with my approach and tend to dabble in all sorts of areas depending on the project - collage, painting, printing, photography, followed by scanning things onto my mac and playing further from there.
What inspired your English Summer Holiday university project? What techniques did you use to create this beautiful brochure? I wanted to combine some sort of book design, illustration and writing the content myself. Summer 2012 gave us the Olympics and Diamond Jubliee so I chose that as a starting point and attempted to continue the happy, patriotic vibe into 2013 by celebrating all things English and encouraging Brits to stay on their home turf for a summer holiday. I crossed my fingers that English weather wouldn’t let me down during my degree show - fortunately it was boiling hot so that complemented my project nicely. For the brochure itself I painted a lot of the illustrations or constructed parts with paper and textures, then meddled around with them in Photoshop.
I love your ice cream pattern portrait. Does ice cream and images of the sea-side mean something special to you? My ice-cream print came along with the English Summer Holiday project as part of it was about recreating the traditional seaside type holiday that most people know, love and can relate to. I didn’t realise until now how many ice-cream related illustrations I have actually done... I look a bit of a strange and obsessed now, but hey who doesn’t like ice-cream? The illustration is fun, colourful and encapsulates my hand-rendered style.
Where do you find creative inspiration? I’m a bit of a hoarder of prints, papers, postcards and magazines etc, so I am always surrounded by a mass of creative inspiration. Aside from that, books, exhibitions, theatre, music and conversation. It’s everywhere... you just can’t get away from it.
What’s your favourite music to work to? Hmmm… Indie, Acoustic, Jazz and old-school classics, but for working purposes I normally keep it chilled and in the background - if it's too funky I get distracted and start dancing!
Which blog/magazine do you read religiously? Loads! Company, Elle and It’s Nice That. I also like Creative Review and Printed Pages as an occasional indulgence!
What do you spread on your toast in the morning? Peanut Butter, Nutella or an unhealthy spreading of golden syrup... but I’m a Special K kinda girl at heart.
What are you working on at the moment? I’m busy with my full-time job so I’m just working on personal illustrations whenever I get a chance at the moment. I’m currently working on some greeting card designs and some illustrations that I also want to get screen printed. I am selling some of my work through ‘Off the Barrow’ which I am really excited about and should be available to buy soon. Watch this space…