Walter Foster Publishing: Fresh and Contemporary

The preeminent publisher of art instruction books, Walter Foster Publishing began like many California entrepreneurial success stories: In 1922, Walter Foster, a caricaturist, sign painter and Vaudevillian performer, among other talents, started publishing instructional art books in his home in Laguna Beach. In the beginning, he did it all: writing, illustrating, printing, binding--all of it! Walter was driven by his belief that anyone who wanted to draw or paint could do so with just a little help and encouragement.

Eventually, Walter Foster Publishing, an imprint of the London-based Quarto Group, grew into a world-renowned, trusted publisher of quality art-instruction books. It continued to grow its line of books for adults and launched a children's drawing book program that includes several licensed titles with Disney, Nickelodeon, Dreamworks, and others.

Anne Landa (left) and Rebecca Razo

However, it's been over the past decade or so that Walter Foster has "really hit its stride," says Rebecca Razo, publisher of Walter Foster and the forthcoming Laguna Press. "Anne Landa, group publisher of Quarto Southern California, took over running the business in January 2015, at which time we revamped our program." This includes adding a wider range of titles, not just for serious fine artists, but also for art hobbyists, crafters, and weekend art enthusiasts, as well as introducing more intuitive approaches to teaching art. "And we've modernized the aesthetic of our list across the board," Razo adds.

Walter Foster books enjoy a longstanding, solid reputation in the art and craft market at such retail establishments as Hobby Lobby and Michaels, as well as art supply chains, including Blick and AC Moore. And its presence continues to grow in the book trade. "One of the things we hear over and over again from people around the world is: 'I grew up with Walter Foster books!' " Razo says. But the company also wants booksellers and librarians to know that, as Razo puts it, "We're not just your parents' and grandparents' instructional-art book publisher." The list is "as fresh and contemporary as it is practical and useful," she says, adding, "And we've struck a perfect balance between continuing to serve the needs of our core audience--the serious fine artist--and publishing for those who just want to pass the time making great art."

"Being part of the Quarto Group has enabled Walter Foster to spread its wings," Anne Landa, group publisher, Quarto Southern California, says. Quarto's mission is, Landa continues, "to make and sell great books that entertain, educate and enrich the lives of adults and children around the world. We're constantly looking for new ways to create and deliver content that people need."

Since 1996, Walter Foster Publishing has been part of The Quarto Group, which specializes in illustrated nonfiction, is domiciled in the U.S., and is listed on the London Stock Exchange. Quarto has 48 imprints around the world that publish in 50 countries and 39 languages through traditional and non-traditional channels focusing on subjects that range from art 'how-to,' graphic design and home improvement to cooking, gardening, motoring and crafts. Its 400 employees are in the U.S., U.K., and Hong Kong. In the U.S., The Quarto Group has five creative hubs: in Lake Forest, Calif. (where Walter Foster is located); New York City; Beverly, Mass.; Minneapolis, Minn.; and Seattle, Wash., where becker&mayer, its the most recent acquisition, is based.

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