Happy Holidays! I can’t believe it’s almost that time of the year again - 2018 has flown by much too quickly - so many personal projects are still yet to be completed - but let’s not worry, 2019 is ready and waiting for lots of new ideas! 2018 was an amazing year for my illustration business, especially with my wholesale endeavours, and I cannot thank my stockists enough for offering little homes for all my cards and prints. I’ll be exhibiting at Showcase Ireland in January, and fingers crossed my wholesale line will expand and grow beyond these shores. Here’s to a magical 2019, and I hope you all have a wonderful and relaxing holiday season ~ Rachel x
I was delighted to take part in Art Source at the RDS, Dublin this year, and to represent the BCFE Graphic Design course. I always recommend this course to anyone who would like to learn about digital art and design, and creative thinking in general. I learned a huge amount in my 2 years there, and the teachers are undeniably dedicated to each and every student.
It was my first year at Art Source, and it’s an amazing event with over 150 Irish and international artists exhibiting their art all under one glittering roof. As a first time exhibitor of my illustrations, I was quite nervous in showing my work. However the genuine interest and amazing feedback from customers and passers-by has given me a much needed confidence boost (us artists are so sensitive!). It was humbling and gratifying to hear people discuss my illustrations and ‘read’ the stories behind them with their own interpretations (much of which were very accurate). After a super busy few days, I feel refreshed once again to get back to the studio and work on some new and exciting ideas that I’ve had floating in the back of my mind for some time now - it’s amazing what a little bit of fresh air can do.
I designed the Graphic Design business cards (above) - I just had to include flowers - and they proved very popular!
I’m probably too organized for my own good, and so I made a scaled drawing in Adobe Illustrator of how I envisioned my stand.
With the help of my super talented DIY-ing Dad, and my creative genius sister, we set to work on putting together the display. Spirit levels to the rescue, we achieved an almost exact replication, and one which I was so happy with - yay teamwork.
I mixed large and small prints with my greeting cards to add some visual variety to the set-up.
My ‘four seasons’ of Dublin doors proved a huge hit at the show.
It really was a wonderful experience! I met so many lovely artists and chatted about all the ups and downs of living an artistic life.
I was in great company with a huge display of Andy Warhol screen prints.
And that’s a wrap! I loved every minute. Thank you so much to everyone that called-by my stand, chatted, purchased my prints and cards, and genuinely appreciated my work. Rachel x
My 2018 #inktober series ‘Little Women Big Ideas’ is officially complete, and to celebrate I have added all the inspiring characters into one empowering print! I usually pick a Halloween-ish theme for my inktobers, but decided to try something different this year. I wanted to gain some more experience using digital ink, with an alternative subject matter - women who changed the world with their ideas. I’ve been illustrating more children’s characters the last few months and sought an excuse to draw more little people - so - I’ve illustrated a miniature childhood version of each woman, with the hope that any little women or men will be inspired to one day conjure up their own big ideas. Happy Halloween!
~ Rachel x
This year I went on yet another time-travelling illustration adventure - way back to the 1970s - with Judi Curtin’s new book You’ve Got a Friend. I illustrated the cover once again, and it’s always such a delight to receive the printed version with its brand new book smell - and it’s pink!
~ Rachel x
As mentioned in my previous blog post, I designed my wonderful twin sister's wedding stationery and props. I used the invite as the main source of inspiration for the rest of the designs. Both myself and my sister are super creative, and we like to take on every opportunity to delve into our creative minds. We planned the table settings, made the welcome props, designed the mass booklets, and arranged the flowers for the church and bouquets - amongst many other things. It was a real DIY project - and everyone was overjoyed with the results. Read below for more...
~ Rachel x
I made these unique wedding cake toppers for the equally unique bride and groom! I painted them in their wedding outfits, and I think it offers a wonderful keepsake of the special day. My sister said she will frame them and hang them next to the wedding photos - such a nice idea.
The bride and groom peg dolls, wandering through a garden of wildflowers (and sponge cake).
I was also in charge of making the favour boxes. They were inspired by a love letter, and were filled with shiny DIY shredded tissue paper, and a special chocolate surprise. I used a vintage 'love' postage stamp, along with postal craft stamps, and a handwritten address in gold ink - all tied up with string! We placed the boxes on beautiful vintage floral side-plates that Airfield Estate luckily had in storage.
In keeping with the wildflower theme, we decided to do something a little different to the usual table numbers, and instead named each table after a favourite wildflower. I illustrated each flower, printed them on beautiful cream card, and stuck each one on a wooden skewer - voila - a table card! We then placed them amongst colourful flowers in wicker pots, in the centre of each table.
I designed a large seating chart using the flower illustrations from the table cards. Above you can see how the tables were presented - with lots of greenery, and floral elements such as the plates, flowers, and menu cards. The library room in Airfield Estate is perfectly elegant, and I think our wildflower theme complimented it wonderfully.
And lastly, the large welcome poster which was placed in the glorious garden. Guests arrived in through the gate and were immediately met with the wildflower welcome and theme.
The next addition to my Dublin door series looks at Autumn and the warming colours it brings to the facades of the city. I was born in October, and I love everything about this month (not just the presents!) - the rich colours, the cool crisp air, the crunch of leaves beneath my feet, and the spookiness of Halloween.
~ Rachel x
From rough sketch to finished piece - lots and lots of layers! 'Fáilte' is Irish (Gaelic) for 'welcome.'
A speed drawing video - from start to finish.
The final illustration. Looking forward to October already...
As a fan of the original L.M Montgomery books, I love most things associated with Anne of Green Gables. The new season of the tv series Anne With an E has just been unveiled this week and I'm eager with excitement to binge-watch episodes 1 through 10 (yay for extra episodes this season!). Anne's imaginary friendship with Princess Cordelia, and her wild imagination of make-believe is the inspiration behind my new illustration - 'Anne and Princess Cordelia.'
Through family tree research, I discovered my great-grandmother was orphaned from birth. She lived around the same time as Anne, and was boarded out to a childless couple who ran a farm. Therefore the story of Anne feels somewhat more personal for me, as maybe my great-grandmother had quite a lot of similarities with this intriguing character...
~ Rachel x
From rough sketch to finished piece. I use a Wacom Cintiq with Photoshop.
Alternative colour studies - I usually go through several rounds of colour changes in order to find the most suitable colours for the scene and atmosphere. This is the most head-scratching part of my process! As Anne is the main character, I based my colour choices around her and what would compliment her colouring. The final colour scheme highlights Anne as I used cooler blue tones for the tree and Cordelia, and warmer brown tones for Anne and her real-life possessions.
Short drawing process video of Anne's hat.
The final illustration - I love adding lots of little details to a scene. This is Anne's little sanctuary of play and imagination, her tree of story-telling and make-believe. She has personally decorated it with ribbon, candles, books, inkwell, wildflowers, and she shares her space with some friendly wildlife.
I had the pleasure of designing my wonderful twin sister's wedding stationery over the last six months - and it was such fun to work on a wildflower themed design. My sister Gillian - from Lost Forest Jewellery - requested a very personalised design, combining her love of botanicals (and her cat Billie), and her husband-to-be's farming career. Irish wildflowers adorn one side of the design, and a cheeky dairy cow, pheasant and apple tree adorn the opposite side. They married in a quaint blue church, which is so endearing I just had to include it in the design. The happy couple sit in the centre of the layout, embraced by nature. I used these elements on the menu also, but instead included the delightful Airfield House, with a plentiful picnic basket below. My next blog post will reveal the DIY projects I made for the wedding, including the peg doll cake toppers (as seen below), and the dainty favour boxes. Stay tuned!
~ Rachel x
Irish wildflower wedding stationery suite, with cake toppers and favour box. The design was inspired by wildflowers, farming, whimsy, and the Edwardian summer garden party.
Wedding invite, with venue map illustrated on the reverse. All designs were printed on a lovely cream stock.
Detail of wedding invite, showing Billie the cat chasing a little farm mouse!
Irish wildflower postage stamps were the perfect accompaniment for the robins-egg blue envelopes.
Wedding menu, with an accompanying favour 'postal' box. The favour box sat next to the menu on the table and contained a chocolate treat within it. It was inspired by their long distance romance, and the journeys they would take to see one another.
A few months ago I set to work on two pieces for the Incognito Exhibition 2018 at the Solomon Fine Art Gallery in Dublin. It is an annual public art exhibition - the largest exhibition in Ireland - with over 1600 artists providing miniature artwork on postcards, in aid of the Jack and Jill Children's Foundation. All artwork is priced at €50 each, and buyers can't confirm who the artist is until they purchase and check for the signature on the reverse of the card! I just love this concept, as ultimately the buyer is purchasing artwork that they genuinely love, regardless of who created it.
~ Rachel x
My first piece was inspired by childhood wonder, exploration and imagination. I began with a rough sketch, and then outlined the main lines. I penciled-in the reverse of the sheet to make graphite paper, in order to trace the image onto the postcard. I used washi tape to tape down the postcard to my paper palette, and to create a thin border frame. The next stage is colour choice - one of my most indecisive qualities! I find it's best to begin with one colour and then base the rest of the palette from this....
I usually prefer to work with a limited colour palette. As mentioned above, I have a difficult time finalising a colour palette, and so I limit myself from the beginning of the process to just one colour - usually the dominant colour of the illustration - and work the rest of the palette around this. My first choice was a lovely grey-green colour, and so this particular shade of green informed the choice of tones of brown that I used.
I used Polychromo pencils as they lend themselves well to blending. They also have a lovely soft texture that reminds me of oil pastels, which produces bright and vivid colour application. In order to make the little girl stand out from the background, I decided to use a pop of bright orange for her hair. It allows her presence to be known immediately, and the colour - although a visual contrast to the rest of the colour palette - is also complementary to the greens and browns.
And here are my final two pieces for the exhibition. The botanical hand is a companion piece, as it depicts her hand holding a bouquet of her forest finds. It was a pleasure to work on these pieces for such a worthy cause, and I hope you enjoyed reading a little bit about my process. If you have any questions, please comment below!
My studio may be small but it's full of my most treasured items. It's a room brimming with inspiration and procrastination; where I communicate with the rest of the world, and where I really feel at ease. Take a look below for a few snapshots from my favourite place...
~ Rachel x
Packing up todays orders. The 'radio' biscuit tin is where I keep my mail receipts (I wish there were still biscuits in that tin).
Each drawer is full of a different colour Pro Marker, or a variety of different pens. I love to have artwork all around me - including a mix of my own work with other illustrators I like.
I prefer to use various interesting mugs and tins to hold my pens and pencils. Each print is hand-stamped with my logo on the reverse.
I have two large pin boards where I display many things I've collected through the years. This board is largely devoted to vintage Valentine's. I love making and typing funny telegrams on my typewriter - not everything in my studio has to be serious work ;)
I'm delighted to announce that Stand by Me by Judi Curtin (The O'Brien Press), won the National Book Tokens Children’s Book of the Year (Senior) award at the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards last night! I illustrated the front cover of this wonderful retro-inspired book. It was a delight to illustrate 1960s style buses, records, and old long-lost (but not forgotten) letters.
~ Rachel x
I think my favourite part of running my shop, is packing-up greeting cards. It may sound mundane, but I love folding the little cards and slipping them into their protective sleeves. They're almost like mini art prints. And you know what is even better? Check out the teeny tiny icons on the reverse of each card. I like to add little magical details like these; a playful accent to entice the viewer. I think my favourite is the miniature Mendl's gift box from my 'Agatha' card.
I have recently changed printers, and I now use a heavy cream card, which has a wonderful texture and weight. The card is also FSC-certified, so it's in-keeping with my eco-friendly ethos. I happily accept wholesale orders, so please get in contact if you would like to stock my products!
~ Rachel x
Yesterday I participated in my very first live illustration event. I was approached by the wonderful people at Ted Baker, London, to illustrate in their Kildare Village store for the 'Make it Yours' event. With every Ted purchase over €150, lucky customers received a free personalized tote bag by myself. It was such a fun and enlightening experience. I drew a range of illustrations; including flowers, floral patterns, quotes, monograms, portraits, and cats!
I think the theme of the day was definitely floral, along with inspiring quotes. And the most popular colour was purple (and glitter, of course). I love finding out details like this, as it helps me to gauge what customers are looking for in personalized illustrations/designs. I used mainly Promarkers, Posca, and Sharpie pens as they dry much quicker than paint. The newly purchased Fabrico pens were ok, but weren't as smooth in their application as the other pens. Tote bags are tricky enough to illustrate on due to the variety of materials they can be made from, but it was exciting to illustrate on a new surface for a change, as I'm usually a paper-loving girl!
~ Rachel x
Some of the pens I used during the day. Posca and Sharpie were better suited to the task and the type of tote bag material. The Promarkers bled a little bit as the material was quite light, but the shading and blending of Promarkers is one of the things I love about them, and it resulted in quite a nice watercolour-wash effect.
Before I began illustrating on the bags I sketched a few doodles to warm-up. I also brought a scrap of canvas material to test colours and ink absorbency before applying them on the tote bags.
During quiet times, I illustrated some Ted Baker-buying winter customers in my tiny sketchbook.
I'm delighted to reveal a project I've been working on since late last year,
The Usborne Museum Activity Book.
Myself and 3 other illustrators have provided an array of museum themed illustrations for this amazing activity book. There's colouring-in pages, stickers, puzzles, quizzes and lots more!
Before moving into the world of illustration and design, I was an archaeologist and art historian, with a serious love of museums, galleries and daydreams of long forgotten worlds. It was so great to have the opportunity to combine all these passions into one single project. My illustrations adorn the following pages: 14-15, 24-25, 28-29, 40-43, 52-54, and 58-61. I've included several of the spreads below. Available to purchase in all good book stores.
~ Rachel x
✨ PRE-ORDER ✨
I have compiled all my inktober characters into one special print. I have launched a
pre-order from October 23rd-31st, and the prints will ship from November 6th. This magical A3 sized print is printed on FSC certified paper with plant-based inks, and I will be hand painting enchanting shiny details emanating from the wands with Finetec sparkly watercolour paints. I will also personally sign the print on the front within the border. If any little witch or wizard would like to purchase one of these special edition prints, please follow this link
A3 size print with hand painted shiny magical details are available with the pre-order only. Don't miss out!
~ Rachel x
I love October. Not only was I born during this month, but I relish the Autumnal colours and soft lighting, the cool turf-doused air, and the urge to get ink all over my hands! Inktober is a creative online project that encourages artists all over the world to take up pens, brushes and ink during the month of October. I usually set my own theme, as seen last year with my popular Frightening Females series. This year, I found a tiny sketchbook, which was waiting to be used, deep within my paper drawer. It's the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter this year, and I decided this would be the perfect theme for my Inktober project: Tiny sketchbook + Harry Potter = Little Harry Potter. My Little Harry Potter series was posted on my Instagram and Twitter. Each illustration was created using Promarkers, Indian ink, dip pens, and fine liners. Who is your favourite character?
~ Rachel x