Jane Tanner grew up in Coburg, Victoria and has stated that her parents 'were ill or absent in my teenage years, so I found refuge in art, nature, and books.'
She studied art at Prahran Technical School under Lenton Parr and Alun Leach-Jones
among others. She has an Associate Diploma of Fine Art in printmaking and painting, and a Diploma of Education. She worked as a teacher before becoming a full-time illustrator in 1984.