Illustrator Jane Heinrichs has crossed the globe from her native Canada to South Africa, but is now firmly based in London. She's also is this month’s Featured Artist! See her web portfolio in our Featured Illustrator Gallery

Thank you so much for inviting me to be a featured illustrator! 

About the Banner Art

July is Picture Book Month here at Words and Pictures, and the banner art reflects the dreamy, imaginative quality of being immersed in a story.  I painted it with ink and watercolour in several layers, and then Photoshopped them together. Lately I’ve been inspired by Victorian watercolours and Japanese prints.  I try to combine these influences with a modern twist.

Personal Journey

Let’s share a cup of tea and I’ll tell you my story…

Once upon a time in a far away land named Canada, I did my bachelor’s degree in Classics, Archaeology and Art History. I knew I loved drawing, but I wasn’t sure how to incorporate it into my life at the time.

One day my archaeology professor asked me if I knew anyone who could draw some illustrations of Roman statuary, villas and pottery for an upcoming university publication. I rushed home to grab my sketchbooks. She was impressed, and I’ve worked as an archaeological illustrator ever since.  I loved seeing my drawings in print, and the fact that they told stories illuminating the lives of ancient Romans.  It showed me the magic of illustration, and also led me on fantastic adventures on digs in Tunisia. 

I continued my academic studies at the Courtauld Institute of Art (at Somerset House), where I completed my masters in art history focusing on medieval illuminated manuscripts.  Even though I loved the research, and pouring over ancient books in the British Library, I realized that I would rather spend my time drawing.

I have to say that being a SCBWI member has been the most amazing, inspiring experience. 
Inspired by Somerset House and the fantastic Courtauld Gallery, I wrote and illustrated a picture book called “Magic at the Museum.”  It was short-listed for best-illustrated book at the Manitoba Book Awards (in Canada), and is still selling amazingly well at the Courtauld gallery shop. 

from Magic at the Museum

After that experience of putting a picture book together, I knew I had found my calling.  I enrolled in a masters of illustration course at Camberwell College of Art and joined SCBWI.  On reflection, I have to say that being a SCBWI member has been the most amazing, inspiring experience. I honestly don’t know where I’d be without you all!

And, as every story needs a happy ending… After a fantastic set of portfolio reviews at the 2013 London Book Fair, I signed with Advocate Art Agency. I’m so excited to be part of such an energetic and supportive team.  I can’t wait to see what the next part of this adventure will hold.

Blog and Online Shop

This year, in January, I resolved to re-open my Etsy shop and revamp my blog.  I felt like I needed a challenging project for the New Year.  In a sense, the shop and blog have become catalysts to push me forward with my illustrations.  I feel a sense of responsibility, perhaps even urgency, to create new illustrations to stock my shop and showcase on my blog.

Shortly after I re-opened my Etsy shop, Disney Baby Blog featured one of my prints in a collection of the best prints about reading for National Libraries Week.  It was such amazing affirmation. I love Disney!

I love meeting new people; please stop by my blog to say hello.  And feel free to do a bit of window-shopping in my Etsy shop. (Words and Pictures readers can get 10% off any purchase with discount code SCBWI10)


I usually start with a thumbnail sketch, which is barely more than an abstract scribble of shapes and gestures. I just want to get the composition and energy right.

Then I start a bigger pencil drawing where I work to get detail into the characters and background. I’m always comparing it to that first tiny thumbnail, to make sure I’m not losing any of the energy I visualized.

I transfer the sketch to watercolour paper and draw the ink lines.  I love Japanese “Deleter” manga pen nibs and “Koh-i-noor” brand sepia or sienna ink.  This ink is almost like a lacquer, and leaves a raised profile on the page.

Once I’m totally happy, I’ll start painting in watercolour.  I often add touches of coloured pencil or gouache at the end, to add variation to the textures and transparency.  Sometimes I paint aspects separately, and then combine them all in Photoshop.  It all depends on the demands of the image (or the client)!


The main advice I have for anyone wanting to become an illustrator is to draw, draw, draw.  Just keep improving; keep challenging yourself.  Try to work fast and accurately.  The reality of working as an illustrator means meeting deadlines that seem impossible. But if you believe you can, you always will!
And that’s my second bit of advice: believe in yourself.  Nothing is impossible.  Everything can be figured out.

So there you go, here’s my fairy-tale ending to this story: believe in yourself, and then work harder than you’ve ever worked before.  Climb that mountain. Forge through that dark forest.  And when the day comes that you’ve reached those goals, you’ll set new ones. Then you’ll have a whole new landscape of challenges to conquer.  But you can do it! 


See more of Jane's work on our Featured Artist Gallery Page

Follow Jane on her portfolio website, her online artist's Etsy Shop, and on her 
Jane Heinrichs Studios is also on Facebook


  1. I didn't know about the archaeological side of your work! It's always fascinating to see people's varied creative journeys and how they brought them to where they are today.

    Well done on becoming the featured illustrator and here's to being somewhere entirely new tomorrow!

  2. I love your illustrations, Jane! So beautiful!! From your fellow Manitoban abroad! Ceej :)

  3. Well done Jane! Your background in archaeology really adds a unique aspect to your children's illustration, such a fascinating story!

  4. Interesting about the Courtauld too - and best of luck with future work, Etsy and all!

  5. Lovely illustrations and the banner is perfect for this weather.

  6. Jane, I'm so pleased we have you in Words & Pictures. I love Eve Garnett's Illustrations for The Family at One End Street and this is so much what your work reminds me of. Thank you for a lovely featured Illustrator piece which , while being interesting and practical, has the same ethereal quality as your blog.


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