Creative Space: Jane Smith


Illustrator Jane Smith tells us how she combines her love of illustration and bikes…

Tell us about your favourite pieces of cycling-themed work?

Bikes (image above) - This was a personal piece and a happy accident while I was experimenting with cycling figures for my Velodrome image. You have to love a happy creative accident!

Velodrome – This piece features London’s Lee Valley Olympic velodrome and was inspired by Team GB’s successes in the Olympics here and in Rio.

Tin Cafe – This was sold as a postcard in Tin Cafe, Haggerston, which is one of my favourite cafes. I am always inspired by its quirky liveliness and the activity around it.

Tea Building, Shoreditch – I had to go some serious lengths for this composition, which is why it’s one of my favourites. It didn’t look right from street level, so I knocked on a few doors in the building opposite and a kind gentleman let me go up to the office to take pictures for a better view. Being the ‘Tea Building’, I kept the colours dull and tea-like.

Do you cycle yourself?
Yes. I got my first bike when I was 9, growing up in the Yorkshire Dales. I have used cycling as my main means of transport all my adult life and find it the quickest way to get around town. My favourite thing to do is to catch the train to the seaside with friends and our bikes. To me, there are few things that beat a seaside cycle with fresh air and seagulls.

Why are there lots of bikes in your work?
I want to include the message that cycling and public transport are the greenest and healthiest ways to get around. I appreciate that cars are needed in certain circumstances but have no interest in them and don’t like their negative impact on the environment.

If you could illustrate one woman from the cycling world, who would it be and why?
It would have to be Laura Trott for all her successes for Team GB in London and Rio. If it encourages more women to take up cycling, all the better. I also admire the many women who commute in all weathers to work daily by bike, some as much as 15 miles each way.

What advice would you give your younger self? Keep at it and take the long view. If things appear to be going badly or too slowly, give it time and things will find their balance. It is easy to be obsessive and get caught up in your head and lose focus. I would definitely tell my younger self to be patient because that was never a strength of mine.

You can follow Jane here and see more of her illustration work on her blog


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