Friday, August 14, 2009

Interview - Jane Reiseger

Nursery murals by Jane Reiseger

Illustration for Spicers Paper commissioned by graphic design firm Pip and Co. Hand drawings with pen and watercolour on paper.

Drawings inspired by Pearl Restaurant.

You mightn't know the name Jane Reiseger, but if you're in Melbourne or Sydney, chances are you've almost certainly seen her work. You might have seen her playful illustrations for the Docklands on HUGE billboards on the freeway recently (as well as tramstops all over town). You might also have seen her beautiful nursery/kids room murals in Real Living magazine... her smile-inducing animal paintings all over the walls of Sydney's Children's Hospital... and if you've ever shopped at Nest Homewares in South Melbourne, you're more than likely familiar with Albi the elephant..!

Jane's work is filled with playfulness and childlike innocence... and it takes a very special grown-up to draw with the ease and naivete of a child! Jane's engaging illustrative style lends itself to a wide range of applications and has drawn a fantastic variety of commissions over the last few years. It seems so cool that some of Melbourne's luckiest tots gaze up to Jane's murals from their little beds, whilst high-end retailers such as Rogerseller commision wall paintings and branding illustrations from the very same artist!

My favourite snippet from Jane's website is the Van Handel's Christmas hat story. A few years ago Jane was working at Nest in South Melbourne, and had just created Albi for their Christmas display. Melbourne's well known restauranteur Frank Van Handel was a regular customer of Nest at the time. One day he came in, and after seeing Albi in the window, said to Jane “if you ain’t Dutch you ain’t much…”!!! Being Dutch himself he loved the little Dutch Oliphant and asked if Jane would create some hats for his family to wear at Christmas. In return Jane was offered a dinner with all her friends at his restaurant - the well known St Kilda Stokehouse. Jane's friend's mum made the hats, and she drew her gorgeous designs on them in red texta. Perfect! (... and what a cute story!)

Van Handel Christmas Hats

Thanks so much for Jane for this interview (completed in record time!). Do pop over and browse her lovely website for more beautiful examples of her work.

LOVE snooping in Jane's fantastic sketchbooks!

Tell me a little about your background – what path led you to what you’re doing now?

I have an earthy background.
I grew up on a farm on the Mornington Peninsula, there were horses and cows and an apple orchard. I was a shy child so used to spend a lot of time drawing. I could talk to people thru my pictures.

I studied Fine Art at the Victorian College of Arts majoring in painting, finishing in 1993. I was 20 years old. After art school I painted and had a few exhibitions and worked in cafes. I started my own illustration business in 1999 after a family friend asked if I could design a wine label for their vineyard. I really enjoyed the whole process and thought maybe I could turn illustration into a job, so I started going to food and wine festivals and got inspired by meeting people like the Chef Geoff Lindsay and Donna Hay. I did illustrations for Yering station, Walters’s Wine Bar, Lindenderry, Gourmet Traveller magazine and The Age. I still needed a bit more income so I got a job working at Nest Homewares in South Melbourne 2 days a week. This was a great place where I could supplement my income and do some illustrations at the same time. I met lots of really interesting talented and lovely people. I used to draw on the tabletops of the shop and hand write point of sale signs.

Aesop point of sale Illustrations for Nest Homewares

I also got to illustrate the Christmas motif each year, which was very successful and got turned into product. The most well known is Albi the elephant.

My interest for interiors grew thru working at nest and I started painting on walls and doing illustrations for various retailers, stylists, foodies, architects (SJB and Maddison) and graphic designers (Hoyne Design and Studio Pip and Co.) I left Nest about 4 years ago and have been working fulltime as an illustrator. I have painted murals for Country Road, The Royal Children’s Hospital in Sydney and done a series of drawings for Rogerseller’s new identity with the graphic design company Lemonade. I also have been painting murals in private residencies by commission.

Sydney Children's Hospital wall paintings

What have been some of your favourite drawings, special projects or collaborations?

I am very fond of Cheekie Monkee who I did for a limited edition Hallmark range. He is very daggy. I want to make large silkscreen art prints using his image.

Hallmark cards

I had a lot of fun coming up with the bathroom images for Rogerseller. I also got to go to Sydney and Brisbane to hand paint two large murals in Rogersellers stores.

Illustrations for Rogerseller

My favourite nursery type mural is one I did for Real living magazine of a tree with birds… the photographer Dan Magree took a really nice photo with the stylist's dog jack in the shot.

Nursery Mural for Real Living magazine - photo by Dan Magree

I like my fruit and ice cream drawings… Inspired by moving to Yarraville and having a peach tree.

I recently worked on a project with RBD graphic design for the city of docklands access campaign. I handwrote words and did line illustrations that were then collaged together with photos. It was weird/exciting going around town and seeing my writing really large on billboards and metro lights.

City of Docklands advertising campaign

Where do you turn for inspiration – nature, travel, books, magazines or the web etc?

I love big skys and looking at the sea… I like visiting Flinders and going to the cafes down there. I often get inspiration drawing in my car. I like the small space it’s a moveable studio. I enjoy listening to 774 talk back radio. I like reading Elle Decoration UK, and Dumbo Feather… I like the design files.

Which designers, artists or creative people do you admire?

I admire the retailer and designer Daniella Moore and her shop 'Tree' at Flinders.
I think the illustrator Hanna Konola does beautiful work.

What does a typical day at work involve for you?

I work from home in Yarraville. I start the work day around 8.00 am with a bowl of muesli and a green chai tea in front of the computer checking my emails. My dog Misty sits under my table.

Around 9.00 I will call clients, talk to graphic designers, stylists then start working on drawings by hand with pens and paper.

At 11.00 I might have an onsite meeting with a client… a mum wanting a mural or a retailer, graphic designer.

Around 1.00 I like to go and sit in a café get some lunch and do some drawings and notes from my meetings.

At 3.00pm its back on the computer for more emailing and scanning of images and a bit of researching on the web and in magazines and some more drawing.

I like to finish work by 6pm and go down to Williamstown with Misty for a walk.

Jane's studio at home in Yarraville

What would be your dream creative project?

I enjoy what I’m doing and just want to do more of it. I would LOVE to collaborate with some talented folk on some limited edition products…maybe design some kids floor rugs?

What are you looking forward to?

Going back to Tassie…went there recently for work/holiday. Fresh air, lots of yummy local food and beautiful quiet beaches.

Melbourne Questions

Where do you shop for the tools of your trade? (i.e. sketching materials, paints, dyes, etc).

I buy my pens, tracing paper and tape from Officeworks. I shop at Eckersleys and St. Kilda Art Supplies for art papers, textas, canvas and brushes. I get my paint from Porters.

What/where was the last great meal you ate in Melbourne?

It was more an afternoon treat… it was a yummy syrupy lemon sponge cake thingy from Spoonful in Prahran.

More drawings inspired by Pearl Restaurant.

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?

If we don’t sleep in My boyfriend and I like going to farmers markets... Recently went to a tiny one in Healesville.

Melbourne’s best kept secret?

Cibi… I think its on keele street in Collingwood?

It’s a cool Japanese café/shop down a side street off Smith Street it has great coffee, good magazines, interesting quirky things to look at. It has lovely natural light. It’s a good spot to do some drawing.

Big things!


  1. So inspiring! Love the unperfect look of her work (this is by no means intended as an insult). I look forward to seeing some of her work in the States!

  2. Always wondered who was behind those lovely elephants & monkeys at NEST! Whenever I've got to find a present for a baby, I get something from her range! Merci for sharing her story.

  3. I have seen Jane's work (esp. at Nest), but never actually knew who was behind these beautiful illustrations. Thank you for such a fantastic interview!

  4. finally know who is behind those amazing rogerseller illos I love. incredible. great post

  5. Beautiful work, lovely artist! I was thrilled to see Jane at Magnolia Square last weekend where she was at the Bee and Tree stall (they use her amazing art on their items). I didn't know those great designs at Nest were her's too, what a nice surprise. Thank you for a great interview!

  6. wow. omg. love. i have seen a lot of Jane's work but had not known who was behind it, thanks so much for shedding some light! i am definitely a fan. great interview!

  7. thanks for another great interview! Very interesting to see her work applied to so many different project.