Racheal Anilyse is a talented illustrator and dreamer from Connecticut. Guys, this interview is so perfect. Her art makes me feel warm and cuddly inside. I envy her colorful and fun style. It’s genuine and it’s real, I promise. I discovered Rachel through her Typographic Weekly Tao series. I was reading the Tao of Pooh at the time, so the stars were aligned, I am hooked on her flickr stream!
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? What is your background?
My name is Racheal Anilyse and I’m from a sleepy town in Connecticut. I grew up on Lisa Frank, neon, Trapper Keepers, tea, Full House, and troll dolls. I have three younger siblings (but there’s an 8, 9, and 13 year separation) so I pretty much grew up by myself. I used drawing to entertain myself because I didn’t have cable until I was at least 12 (shocker!). When that got boring I’d write letters to my friends. Then I went to the Hartford Art School and studied illustration and design. Graduated. Then I started running and designing a magazine and blog called Underground Art School for art students. Now I do freelance illustration, still write and blog for art students, and am trying to work as a children’s book illustrator. There is no end.
What materials do you use? You seem to experiment and play around with different things. How often do you do this with your artwork?
I use tea, watercolor, and ink base, with pen and graphite overlay. I can’t have my process too methodic. I think I might have ADD tendancies. I need an element of surprise, so I use tea splashes because I can only plan up to a point about where they will go, but the splashes blend and seep wherever they want and I have no control over it as it dries. The pen and pencil I can control, so they keep the balance.
I never really thought I was experimenting too much with my work because the process is pretty much the same every time, but the technique maybe gives the effect of being different because I never know what the tea will do, or how a piece will look in the end. I am a huge design nerd and have tried combining my design skills with illustration on the computer but as it turns out, I prefer the computer strictly for design and keeping as much of the illustration in my own hands.
I think it may also seem like I experiement a lot because I’m still trying to figure out my visual language in illustration. Each illustration seems to differ slightly from one to the next. But I kinda like this. I have a wild card quality to my work. Whether that’s good or bad for booking freelance jobs, I’m not sure, but it keeps me personally on my feet.
You have lots of references to people and quotes in your art. What/who inspires recently?
Yea, I enjoy drawing portraits and I pick my subjects randomly. There’s no reason to that one. The face says it all. I think it’s the most interesting part of the body. I could care less about hands or pose. I just like to draw the most interesting part. And it’s a game for me, because I try to see how close I can get to resembling the person without tracing paper.
I also love love love a good quote. My music interests are all over the place which is great because there’s so many options of great lyrics to be inspired by. However I can’t seem to get into metal, country, or Jack Johnson. I also am not ashamed to admit that I’m always down to read a spiritual text, again, my spiritual interests are all over the place. Right now I just started reading a lot of Kahlil Gibrad. That was life changing.
What projects are you working on now? (And, why aren’t there any more weekly taos? I adore them so much!)
Right now I’m sweating blood and tears at building my children’s illustration portfolio. I’m trying to develop my character designs and sequential storytelling. I think I’m almost there. Then I have to figure out the next step, which is probably search for the right art rep. I’d also really like to make some large scale weekly tao’s. I never work past 11×14 because my scanner is a baby but large scale lettering is calling me. Plus I really do miss making those tao te ching quotes.
What is your favorite and least favorite thing about freelancing?
The confused client. They decide on Design A then come back and say “No! Make a Design B.” Then they hate that and ask you to fall backwards back into Design A again. Their doubt becomes my doubt and my problem. And then that doubt morphs into self doubt and guilt. And then I have to pull myself together and smile and make Design A again.
I also detest pricing and quotes. Some print jobs you work harder at in regards to thumbnails, sketches, color comps, final, etc. and it pays beans in comparison to the super commercial jobs that pay big for like barely any work. Although those jobs aren’t that creative. It’s weird gauging what to put in a quote because it’s the estimated value of your work, in which case I would like to say I have great potential, therefore I should raise my rates. But I usually undercharge.
What do you do when you are in a creative drought?
Well, I don’t really struggle too much to make something or come up with an idea. I don’t experience droughts per se anymore. If anything I become too overwhelmed with ideas and projects and because I don’t know which one to start on first, so I avoid it all instead. I think what saves me from droughts is I never let myself be overcome by the fear of lack of an idea, because that fear is itself just an idea. So I continually move onto the next piece, next project, next idea, whether it’s good or bad, for someone else or for myself. But like I said, that also means I have too much on plate.
The place where I struggle isn’t through concept or ideas, but more technique (such as color choices, layout, etc.) which at that point I do nothing. I let it be. It took me a few years to master this.
I now know when I’m creatively stuck. I used to resist it and get super frustrated and would keep working on a piece. I actually did that other day. But I have to remind myself “ok, put the pen down. walk away.” That was an unlearned lesson in art school-how to set my restart button on a piece.
If I’m really p.o.ed i usually spend a week knocking out movies in my netflix queue or reading, and scouring blogs. If I’m on a deadline I sit on my bed, have a good cry, and come back to the studio. I also found that being ok with staring into space for a good hour so helps. Accepting that act as part of the creative process has proven successful for me.
Dogs or cats?
PUPPIES and KITTENS!!!!