Fran grew up in Pembrokeshire with her sister and two brothers. However she recalls spending hours alone in the garden observing snails, insects and tadpoles; she wanted to share their small world. When she was 4 she won a Blue Peter badge in a drawing competition. This, along with her encouraging and creative primary school teacher planted a little seed in her head; she wanted to be an artist. Fran can’t remember ‘not drawing’. She copied Norman Thelwell’s drawings of children on chubby ponies – she started working at a local riding stables at the age of 10 in return for riding lessons, which broadened her understanding of drawing horses.
Fran moved from Pembrokeshire to Llanelli when she was 15 and after ‘A’ levels did a foundation course in Art &Design in Carmarthen. For a while she veered towards ceramics, model-making appealed, but decided it was illustration she wanted to specialise in and went to Exeter to complete a BA in Graphic Design. Here she discovered the work of Arthur Rackham, Brian Froud and Alan Lee, a small stepping stone in developing her own style. Before graduating, representatives from a tile manufacturing company spotted her work. She worked for 6 months designing tiles, whilst living in Cornwall and travelled to Australia. She travelled the country, worked as a crew-member on a whale-watching tall ship, with dressage horses and cared for orphaned wallabies.
On her return to the U.K, she worked on a reserve for the West Wales Wildlife Trust, in a cafe on site, designing interpretation, posters and running children’s workshops. Before becoming a full-time illustrator, Fran worked in a whole-food shop, South American Cafe, as a hotel cleaner, card packer, and as a scenic artist near Chepstow where she learned to make polystyrene walls look ‘old and weathered’. She sold her own hand made cards for a while before approaching her favourite card company whom she had discovered whilst studying in Exeter, ‘Two Bad Mice’ Publishers, then based in London – now in Pembrokeshire. Initially her work was rejected but persistence prevailed and she now produces images for cards, ceramics and wrapping paper; which are distributed worldwide.
A commission for a poster from the Welsh Books Council resulted in her first picture book with Gomer Press in West Wales. She has also been commissioned by Andre Deutsch and Piccadilly Press in London, Templar in Surrey, Scottish Natural Heritage and Forestry Commission, A.Vogel in Ireland, and has had work commissioned from Tasmania. She has written and illustrated several childrens books. Fran occasionally works in schools where she talks about her books and provides illustration workshops.
Fran returned to live in Pembrokeshire in 1999 and lives with her partner, two sons and two dogs near the Cleddau Estuary.