About Jane Elias, Founder and Creative/Executive Director

As the seventh daughter in a family of nine children (eight girls!), my parents either ran out of ideas or lost interest in middle names by the time I came along. I was christened Jane, simply Jane, and so I remain…

A bit of a shy girl, but coming from a family whose tradition of artistry stretched back generations, I found myself drawn to communicate visually and began sketching and painting at an early age.

It was in college at the University of Minnesota that my talents were first put to the test publicly, as an editorial illustrator for the Minnesota Daily. It was a fast paced, art-on-demand job that stripped away my inhibitions and ultimately ignited a creative spark that is still with me.

As soul-nurturing and gratifying as art can be, it can be tough making a living at it. My early days required creativity beyond the paintbrush just to make a go of it. I would exchange art services for vet care, theatre tickets and photography services. A desperately needed root canal led to adding “muralist” to my repertoire. I suggested, portfolio in hand, to the director of the dental clinic, that “I haven’t any money, but I have a little talent.”

After painting a play area for children at the clinic, I was hired to paint many more murals in clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, restaurants and private homes all over the United States.

I also found myself drawn to helping kids find their own artistic voices.

I was a visiting artist in the Minneapolis public schools, traveled to a remote village in Alaska to teach art projects to K-12 students, and worked with neighborhood groups in North and South Minneapolis to create community art gardens with amazing flowers & snake fence pickets painted by the kids.

Their enthusiasm and innate creativity never failed to inspire me.

And then I married and had children of my own. Things slowed down – a lot! Nation-wide mural painting gigs and parenting aren’t a natural fit. I stayed in the game with the occasional local mural and a continued involvement with community projects, but George and Gayl were the real focus of my creativity.

Well, you can divert a passion, but it doesn’t go away. Whenever my children had friends over they would ask for illustrations to color. I began using a sharpie marker to draw Hello Kitty, unicorns, and dragons in a coloring book style. I drew patterns on placemats I drew on magnets, mirrors, furniture and eventually canvas. The seeds for Simply Jane had been planted.

Check out some of Jane’s fabulous sister artists:

Sister Anne www.anneelias.com

Sister Meg www.watchhumansfly.com

Sister Lisa www.eliasmetalstudio.com

Sister Mary www.myspace.com/aliaseliasray