We caught up with Rachael to find out about her illustrating process, who inspires her, and how she manages to juggle deadlines whilst keeping her 30,000 followers on social media entertained.
Welcome to Pickled ink, Rachael, it’s a pleasure to be representing you. You graduated in 2017 with a first class illustration degree from Liverpool’s John Moore University, and have a spectacular portfolio. Can you tell us about your process, from initial inspiration to creating the finished artwork?
I love to travel and venture into the outdoors whenever I can, so I always document the places I go by taking photographs, which I often refer to when looking for inspiration. I also have a collection of picture books for references, and Pinterest is great for colour palette combination ideas. Once I have new ideas in mind, I’ll sketch out several roughs before drawing the final composition, and then I’ll paint the piece and digitally edit afterwards.
I think the painting process is probably my favourite stage, because although I always have an idea in mind about how the piece will look, I usually end up pleasantly surprising myself with a slightly different outcome. The area I find most challenging can be the process of inventing original ideas at the beginning of the project, because it isn’t always easy to think up new concepts!
Always coffee first! Then sometimes I’ll try and fit in a half hour run in the morning, or afternoon so I’m more focused throughout the day. I’ll usually check emails before working on anything practical, and then I’ll either focus on projects or web shop errands throughout the day with regular breaks. I always work into the evening, but I enjoy working long hours!
I find the work of Rebecca Green, Adelina Lirius, Júlia Sardà and Carson Ellis incredibly inspiring. Their characters are memorable and original, and I love their use of colour and imaginative concepts. In terms of authors, I admire Kyo Maclear, who wrote ‘The Liszts’, because I find her ideas really quirky and different. I’d also love to recreate illustrations for old stories, for example, Maurice Sendak’s ‘Where The Wild Things Are’.
You have a large following on social media and regularly update your feeds, do you find it hard to juggle being active on social media with your commissions and deadlines? Do you have any tips for illustrators looking to engage more on social media?
Yes, I have sometimes found it difficult when working on behind the scene projects and I am unable to post new work, because there can be a pressure to keep your feed constantly updated. However, I try to showcase old work in new ways whenever this is the case. I think it helps to put yourself into your page every so often too, so your followers can meet the creator behind the work. But overall, I think that consistency with marketing, style and content is key to engaging your audience.
There are so many projects I would love to work on! But I think to be able to eventually work on any book project that portrays a profound message or something a little ‘quirky’ and different would be fantastic (something memorable that stands out). I would also love to work towards writing and illustrating my own book one day too!