Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Super Star Interviews: Rachel Place

Welcome to my monthly interview feature! I’m so excited to be interviewing all the fabulous artists, illustrators and designers I’ve meet over the years (both personally and virtually!) and sharing their artwork and experiences here on Bird Meets Worm. Look for a new interview on the first Tuesday of every month.

This month I’m tickled pink to be catching up with the super sweet Illustrator, Rachel Place! I can’t get enough of her darling artwork!! She creates whimsical, cute, fun designs that will make you smile. Rachel specializes in surface pattern design and illustration. She grew up surrounded in artistry; her mom was a weaver, her dad was a blacksmith, and her Nana, Elsie, cultivated her creativity. Elsie was an amazing woman who, from a tiny white cottage on Martha’s Vineyard, would write Rachel letters every week on the cutest stationery. She would have Rachel practice drawing straight lines and was undeniably sweet. Well, except for the time she made Rachel clean her dentures for saying a not-so-lady-like word! To this day Rachel has flashbacks of standing in front of that sink, scrubbing away.  Elsie believed in her like no other.  Her Nana understood that little things that made people smile were big things. Rachel currently lives outside of Austin, Texas with her husband and daughter. You can view more of her artwork here!

Nothing says "I Love You!" like flowers! Perfect!

 Q: You are a master illustrator of all things cute, cute, CUTE! Dish with us about who/what/where inspires all this cuteness!

A: When I was younger, my Nana would send me letters on the cutest stationery. It wouldn't have been polite to respond with plain paper so at a young age my mom took me to Hallmark and my life long obsession with pretty paper began. At the same time, I grew up with illustrated storybooks, binders filled with cute stickers and rad 80's plastic jewelry. I never really grew out of toys, stickers, and things that make me happy. For a long time I wished I could have been a fine artist, but over the years I've learned to embrace who I am and what makes me happy: all things cute! 

Foxy Floral Fabulous!!!

 Q: I love all your darling repeat pattern designs! Give us the scoop on how you create them—from idea & sketches to color & design. Plus, any tips for creating that perfect repeat?!

A: After I decide what subject matter to draw, I usually sketch my main ideas, characters, and icons on paper. Since my sketches are usually pretty rough, I bring them into Photoshop or Illustrator by taking a picture of them, saving it to Dropbox and work from there. Color is something I struggle with. It helps me to look at how others successfully use color in their work and try to take a similar approach, while still keeping true to my own style.

Tips for creating the perfect repeat: Well, most of the time you don't have to, the majority of clients don't require it. Other than that, once I am done with a pattern, I like to put it aside for a day and come back to it. 90% of the time looking at it with fresh eyes the next day will help me identify areas of opportunity.

How darling are these Easter cutie pies?! Very, very!!

 Q: Give us the scoop on your MOST favorite illustration projects: one from your past and one from your present.

A: Having some of my illustrations chosen for fabric at Joann's was ones of my favorite older projects. I liked the design and to see it in stores on the shelf was an unreal feeling! Every time I walked by it, I couldn't help but smile.

More recently I challenged myself to do an Advent Calendar. Creating new work and posting art daily was initially a struggle, but at the end, I really enjoyed the challenge. It helped me realize sitting down and just doing it was half the battle and that other goals are achievable, if I put my mind to it. At the end of the month, I had a lot of new work and the bonus of gaining new Instagram followers at the same time.

Q: Your art licensing work has been represented by multiple agencies over the course of your career. What have been the benefits and challenges of working with an agent?

A: Trend reports, Art Direction, and real-time personal feedback are some of the most beneficial things for me.

One challenge is not always being present at the shows or client visits. It is valuable to hear what buyers have to say about the work being presented. I get feedback from my agent after the show, but sometimes that face-to-face connection can be an exhilarating part of the job.  

Seasonal sweetness! I'm just loving this Gingerbread Boy!!

Q: What advice would you give fellow illustrators about: 1) self-promotion, 2) business practices and 3) trade shows?

A: 1) Put yourself out there. Find whatever social media platform is most authentic to you and do your best to regularly post work that reflects the type of work you want to be doing. 2) For business practices, the basics go without saying. Under-promise and over-deliver, be timely and pleasant to work with. I cannot stress enough about having a strong support system—it helps me get through the work week! Either friends or artists in the same field (also friends) a quick chat or message can help change your perspective and motivate you to keep moving forward. 3) Trade shows— walk them if you can't exhibit and exhibit when you can, but most importantly, when you're ready. I've done both and exhibited with a former agent. It's exciting and so much fun to meet clients face-to-face, not to mention the other artists, plus New York City is always a good idea. 

Panda sure knows how to throw a party!! 

 Q: Describe your most perfect day.

A: I could go so many places with this, but I'll stick to my perfect work everyday day vs. a perfect vacation day. I would wake up, walk the dog, create some art for whatever project I'm currently working on at the moment. Wrap that up, meet a friend for lunch, which would include a small reasonable dessert. Followed by shopping at my favorite paper goods store, then spending a quiet evening at home with my family.

Thank you so much, Rachel for chatting with us here at Bird Meets Worm!! We can’t wait to see what you create next!