I am so excited to share this interview with the beautiful Rachel Stubbs - her work is stunning and I want to wallpaper my walls with it. It is so nice to be interviewing an illustrator and getting a little glimpse into her creative life! Check out some of her work and thoughts below...
Where do you live and how do you think it influences your work?I currently live in South East London and have done for the past three years with my husband Jonathan. I love living here - there is so much to see and do for free so it’s an endless source of inspiration for us both. There is also a surprising sense of community to be found if you look for it, which is really encouraging and motivating. Working as an illustrator can be isolating so it is great to find others who are in a similar field.
How would you describe what you do?At the moment I am working full time as a freelance illustrator from our flat, although I have previously worked under many other guises since leaving university to make ends meet! Most of the commissions I get at the moment are for greetings cards, a lot of which I get through my agent. This can get repetitive so I try to vary it for myself by experimenting with different media. I’ve also been commissioned for editorials, book covers and typography projects and am slowly starting to get little bits of children’s work here and there which is really exciting. I love drawing and painting by hand with my pencils, inks, and watercolours, which I then combine using digital software to get it ready for print.
What are your tricks for getting inspired when you have a creative block?Switch activity. Whether it’s playing around with paint, going for a walk, looking through my books, visiting a local museum, cooking or meeting up with a friend. Anything to allows my mind to breathe a bit and relax.
What is your favourite project/piece that you have worked on and why?I really enjoyed working on the book cover illustration for ‘Islands of the Mind’, an anthology of poems and short stories written by a group of students from Lambeth Academy earlier this year. This was brought about by an amazing organisation called First Story, who arrange and pay for acclaimed writers to run weekly creative-writing workshops for students in state schools across the country. Walker Books helped them to produce and publish the final book and it was through a lovely friend who works there, Charlie Moyler, that I ended up being involved. She helped the group to articulate what they wanted the cover to feel like and then basically art directed me, which was really fun! The final piece feels quite different to a lot of my other work due to the dark subject matter, but it was a welcome change and challenge.
If you could learn a new skill what would it be?I’m really inspired by pattern and would love to learn how to make my own repeat patterns using Adobe Illustrator. Thankfully resources like Skillshare are making things like this more accessible, so I plan to make use of that soon.
Which designers/artists/photographers get you super inspired and excited?I love everything by Beatrice Alemagna, whose book ‘Un Lion a Paris’ first got me hooked into the world of children’s book illustration. She communicates with so much sensitivity and sophistication, and yet manages to retain a real sense of childlike naivety, which is difficult to do well. Her fearless approach to experimenting with different media and materials never fails to make me want to get back to work! Other favourites include; Roger Duvoisin and Jan Balet, Laura Carlin, Carson Ellis, Peter Doig, Shirley Baker, Jacob Whibley and Rune Gunerisssen.
How do you relax and unwind?I love exploring the different neighbourhoods and markets in and around London, visiting local museums and exhibitions, taking long walks in the park, cooking for friends, curling up with a good book and making haphazard creations on my sewing machine. I also love to get out of the city when I can to wide, green spaces.
What is your top tip for life?Don’t compare yourself – something I am still learning to apply to my own life. I love the quote “Comparison is the thief of Joy” by Franklin D Roosevelt, I think he sums it up beautifully.