Inkygoodness Collective Member Spotlight: Rachel Presky

Rachael Presky is a freelance illustrator and commercial artist from the UK. Her work is continually evolving and has become a joyful celebration of different people and cultures. She has been a proud member of Inkygoodness Collective since September 2021.

With a background spanning Biomedical Sciences, Project Management, Graphic Design, Parenthood, Dog-Parenthood and a semi-professional Athlete, Rachael Presky works across advertising, murals, packaging and editorial projects and is a regular on Adobe Live UK streams.

Her clients include Adobe, Vans, Adidas, Flow Magazine, the British Red Cross, Klarna, Mondi/Pergraphica Premium Papers and many more. She lives in a little, but surprisingly creative town, in Bedfordshire called Leighton Buzzard with her husband, 18 month old toddler and 2 crazy dogs.

Can you tell us about your childhood and where you grew up? Did you always enjoy being creative?

I loved art but also skiing as a child/teenager. I was never that great at other sports, although I enjoyed gymnastics, playing tennis and football. I was lucky enough to live 10 mins from a dry ski slope where I ski raced for 10 years and then at University, took up the much cooler version of Freestyle Skiing – the jumps and rails! I have recently realised that I would love to use these influences more in my work and have been trying to portray the movement and fun.

Did you study at art school?

I have always had two sides of me, creatively I studied Fine Art until A Level but wanted to study Medicine so I also took Maths, Chemistry and Biology. I didn’t manage to get a place so I studied Biomedical Sciences.

My projects focused on wayfinding/logo design but I always got a little bit of illustration in there! A lot of illustration is, however, self taught. My early work was vector based but then I discovered Adobe Fresco and Procreate on an iPad!

After University, I pursued skiing as both a hobby and potential career before getting a ‘real job’. The creative side never left me though and I took a part time Masters in Graphic Design.

Rachel Presky, Illustrator

How and when did you realise you wanted to pursue what you do? How did you get started in the creative industry?

I had an abrupt start to Illustration, I was made redundant from my ‘real job’ in the tech industry. I took the opportunity of a couple of months salary payout to pull together a portfolio and start contacting people.

I got a spot at the ‘One Year In’ Exhibition at New Designers in 2019 and from there I gained 2-3 commissions, loads of contacts and an agent. It was such a great kicking off point for me and I met so many great designers who are smashing life now! It only makes you want to succeed more!

Can you tell me more about your path to becoming an illustrator?

From initially starting out, contacting a tonne of people, I managed to get a couple of jobs trickling in but also took on some contracting work from my old role which kept us going financially! The pandemic made a difference in a positive way for my career. I found that editorial commissioners were commissioning more illustration and animation because photography/video wasn’t possible.

It was also a big switch up because my husband is a Cinematographer and he couldn’t go out to work! This year I’ve seen a switch in where my work is going too, I’ve had mural projects that I never thought I’d be commissioned for. I’ve been lucky to get some jobs where I have creative freedom, which is the absolute dream!

I’m hoping to push my work to be more of a Commercial Artist over the next year so I get commissioned to create more murals and artworks for different brands!

Rachel Presky, Illustrator

Any big projects you can talk us through? The brief, the challenge, the outcome?

I’ve just finished up a mural for ADIDAS (WTAF!), they had the tightest timeframe I’ve come across for a mural! I had to create a mural design, which thankfully is being printed on vinyl and based on my style of sporty ladies, by the following day, a Friday and finals by the Monday. I spent the weekend working it up in Vector, which I very rarely use, but managed to get it done! It should be up in the Adidas London flagship store this month!! Lots of the murals I have done have tight timescales though, I think most have a couple of weeks from brief to final painting completed. They’re so exciting to work on and get my creativity flowing!

How do you manage quieter periods? When client work is slow or non-existent?

I either get life stuff done, mum life is fab hey 😉 I contact potential new commissioners or make a start/continue on personal projects. Every time I see someone has shared an Art Director in their project post, I screenshot it and come back to it when I have quiet time. I then have a list of people I know commission illustration. I’ve found that personal projects also tend to bring in work. For example, the adidas project I recently did, came off the back of a poster series I created, inspired by women at the Olympics. Personal Projects are ALWAYS worth it!

Do you have any skills or hobbies non-art related? How do you like to spend your free time?

I used to be a semi-professional freestyle skier and this really influences my work. I love sports, particularly extreme sports and I love supporting women in sport. My focus has more recently been to use these influences, the movement, fun and happiness that sports bring and try to show this in my work. I love chilling out with my little family and going on walks too, so the simple life!

How do you define success for yourself? Has this changed since you started out?

My goalposts always change and although that could be seen as a bad thing, I think that helps me strive to better myself and my career.

Rachel Presky, Illustrator

I think I’ve been lucky enough to hit some of the goals I initially had for my career. When I started, I focussed on Editorial illustration and had the goal to work with Flow Magazine, I emailed them quite a few times, then one day they contacted me out of the blue with a commission! Tick! As time goes on though, I’ve learnt more and my goals change or evolve. Now my goals are to work on more murals because I loveeeee seeing my work at scale and I hope one day to be commissioned to create a full advertising campaign.

What do you love about Inkygoodness Collective?

I love having a community who you can share and receive tips from! I’ve also met some illustrators whose work I loveeeeee! I took the Make your Mark course and the Pizza Mural portfolio project actually pushed my work in a new direction which I love and am very grateful for! I also spoke to some of the other parents in the Collective who reassured me that getting a childminder for my daughter would give me more time and she’d love it and since then, we’ve upped the amount of time she is there and she does love it! Such a supportive community!

I loved the community that came with illustration and seemed so much more welcoming than the design industry.

Rachel Presky, Illustrator

Do you have ideas for what you’d like to see next?

Maybe some specific classes on how to get into different industries within illustration? I’d love to know how to get into hoardings, as one example, and to know who holds the cards there! I’m slowly learning that it’s the design agencies that hold a lot of the power when it comes to commissioning artwork.

What do you want to learn from other artists & illustrators in our community?

I think sometimes, for every new type of project you take on, it can feel like you’re reinventing the wheel on how to approach it. It’s great to have a community to field questions off and get their advice/experience. Also, love that so many people have different ways of organising themselves as freelancers! It’s great to know how I can streamline my workflow.

Do you have any final words of advice for aspiring illustrators and makers?

Just keep going, don’t stop contacting commissioners or sharing your work. Nobody knows your work exists unless you show them!

Check out more of Rachael’s work:
Instagram @rachaelpreskyachael

Part of our on-going series of interviews with members of Inkygoodness Collective.

Rachael Presky one of 40 artists and illustrators to complete Make Your Mark, our 10-week programme to kickstart your freelance illustration career. Applications for Make Your Mark Bootcamp, our six month personal and professional development programme are now open! Starts Monday 17th June. Find out more here.



Posted on Jun 2nd, 24 by | Twitter: @inkygoodness

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