My name is Jan Smith, and drawing is my joy. I illustrate children's books for a living and I love it. I love it when I get a new commission; reading and then talking through the text with the editor, arriving at a plan for the illustrations; the story elements to draw, the style and the tone - making pictures from words that will add to the wonder of a story or illumination to an instructive work in a child's mind.
After studying art at Harrow College of Tech and Art I followed many paths; some chosen, some because I needed to eat (and some somewhere in between). I worked and travelled in France, Spain and Morocco. I worked as a chambermaid, cleaner, hotel booker, sign-writer, pictorial pub sign painter, and as a cartoonist for my local Nottingham Newspaper. All these steps adding to my knowledge and understanding of our crazy world and lending me the courage to take a deep breath and launch myself as a freelance illustrator.
Since then I have illustrated many books for well known publishers including:
  • Ladybird
  • Orchard
  • Parragon
  • Albert Whitman
  • Franklin Watts
  • Tamarind
  • Jolly Learning
  • Harper Collins
  • Autumn Publishing
Recently I was commissioned by San Diego Zoo (publisher Blue Sneaker Press) to illustrate a wonderful book "A Letter from Tashi" written by US children's author Carrie Hasler. It is a work I am particularly proud of - more so since it went on to win the prestigious US prize; The Ben Franklin Award for Best Picture Book in the 4-7 year category.
My son Oscar is a talented illustrator in his own right, who also produces unique and beautiful tattoos under his Insta name @slimelad. My partner who has one son, works as a nurse for our precious NHS.