Janan (Koutny) Cain grew up in Darien, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. As a young girl, she loved going to her dad’s office (he had a display graphics business) and drawing with the professional tools found there: artist’s markers and huge paper tablets. Her mother was always involved in various craft projects, such as ceramics, decoupage and toll painting. There was never a question in Janan’s mind as to the career she’d pursue. After high school she earned an Associate of Arts degree in Visual Communications at the Art Institute of Colorado in Denver.
Janan started out as a graphic designer in 1982 doing keyline and paste-up. She was employed by various design studios around Chicago and Colorado Springs before getting seriously interested in illustration as a career. Eventually she landed at Tom Cain Design (who was to become her future father-law), a package design studio outside Chicago. Tom encouraged Janan to hone her illustration skills in her spare time on the job, and ultimately she became a full-time illustrator. Janan’s artwork spans a broad range of projects, from corporate campaigns and consumer packaging, to branding and communication design for Fortune 500 companies. Janan worked with many different techniques, including pen and ink, pastels, gouache, acrylics, airbrush, colored pencil, scratchboard and computer illustration.
In 1993, Janan had her first daughter, Emily, and stopped working full-time. Around the time her second daughter, Isabella, was two years old, Janan wanted to teach them words for their emotions but couldn’t find any good books for young children dealing with that topic. Being an illustrator, she decided to create her own book and the idea for The Way I Feel was born. The Way I Feel is among the best-selling children’s picture books of all time winning numerous awards and accolades.
Janan has since focused her energies on drawing and illustration, and currently practices freelance design and illustration from her studio overlooking her garden in Riverside, Illinois. Janan loves to garden and spend time with her family which includes her spoiled cocker spaniel, Oliver. Her true passion (or obsession) is riding her horse, Finn. She and Finn have begun showing dressage and hope to have many years together riding trails and winning ribbons.