Artist Jane Font illustrates spooky tales for independent Glass Spider Publishing
Photo supplied, Jane Font
Late in the evening, you might find Jane Font snuggled up with her writer husband, Vince, listening to a scary story he’s imagining. But Jane won’t be holding onto Vince … she’ll be holding a sketchbook.
The couple, always trying to spook each other, frequently told one another creepy bedtime stories. Then years ago, “in a fit of mutual creative frustration,” Jane Font said, they decided to try a creative exercise … or as they called it, an experiment. The idea was simple, but brilliant. Jane would paint a creepy watercolor painting and, in turn, Vince would write a scary story to correlate with the painting. The next time, Vince would write the story first, then Jane would paint the picture.
“It was such a fun exercise, and before long we had so many stories with illustrations that we started a blog to share them,” she said.
The “experiments” kept coming and, soon, they realized that a book (or three) would be the ultimate “experiment.” Since her husband also has a small publishing company, Glass Spider Publishing, putting it into print was the natural next step, said Font, a full-time artist with a studio at The Monarch.
Now they have two books, “Shadows on the Page,” which won the prestigious League of Utah Writers Gold Quill award this year, and “More Shadows on the Page.”
Image supplied, Jane Font
“We’re tossing around ideas for a third,” Jane Font said.
“The way we worked on this project was very flexible and fluid,” she added. “Sometimes, I would create a painting on my own, letting the inspiration take me. Other times, we’d begin with a prompt, like ‘a shadow in an attic window’ (that one turned into “The Hag at the Window”). Very rarely did I find myself having to tailor a painting to a specific story, although that did occasionally happen.”
The two are creatively in sync with each other and have fun playing off each other’s ideas. “He might write a story that sparks an idea for a new painting, or it might happen to pair perfectly with something I previously painted. Likewise, a painting I make for a story might inspire him to go back and make changes (to a story) so that it incorporates certain details of that painting,” Font said.
This happened with the short story “The Thing in the Hall.” Vince couldn’t picture what the monster looked like, and therefore, didn’t have a clear physical description until Jane painted the picture.
“My favorite story is the short story ‘Nightsong,'” Jane Font says with a knowing smile. “We came up with that one together while camping. There was a really intense and scary storm one night, and we spent a couple of hours looking out the windows of our tiny camper watching as other campers ran around trying to grab things that were blowing away from their campsites. It was scary and exciting, and pretty soon we were going back and forth with ideas for a story.”
Image supplied, Jane Font
Font confides that they have discussed switching roles for at least one story in their third book. “I’m not a great writer,” she confides, “but he’s a great editor, and while Vince may not be an experienced painter, he’s married to a pretty good art teacher, so we’ll see how that goes!”
You can purchase copies of “Shadows on the Page” and “More Shadows on the Page” at https://amzn.to/3EdocXx, or visit Jane Font at The Monarch to get a signed copy.
Follow Jane on social media @pandemonium_jane on Instagram and @Jane Font (Pandemonium) on Facebook.