Grad Spotlight: Rachael Saunders

Aspiring children's book illustrator Rachael Saunders shares her experience of studying at Falmouth, her love of sport and future plans as she prepares for her grad show.

Tell us a little bit about your background experience and route into illustration? Where did you study?

Throughout my childhood I have always had a wild imagination and enjoyed being creative but never considered it as a possible career avenue until I completed my foundation diploma at Falmouth University. I fell in love with Falmouth’s wonderful artistic scene and breath-taking scenery so decided to stay to study BA (Hons) illustration. I have recently completed this course and believe that Falmouth University has set me up brilliantly for my future career as a freelance illustrator and designer.

How would you describe your work? Where do you get your ideas and inspiration?

My work is often described as being whimsical and ‘made from sunshine and rainbows!’ I guess this isn’t too fair from the truth as I enjoy creating illustrations that are full of fun and that will put a smile on your face. My work centres around colour, shape and texture to make images that are vibrant and intriguing. A lot of my work derives from design with shape playing a fundamental role in my work. I draw inspiration from observing the work of artistic masters such as Picasso, Fortunato Depero and Miroslav Sasek, as well as contemporary illustrators including Leslie Barnes and Ben Newman. Travelling during my years at university to places like Barcelona, Bologna and New York has also been a huge inspiration to me and triggered many project ideas.

What are you working on right now?

Currently I am working on some character designs for a new children’s book I am illustrating as well as a few poster designs for events and a small collaborative project. I am also preparing work for Falmouth’s upcoming graduate exhibition opening on the 13th June and the D&AD show in London during early July.

Do you have a studio at home or do you share a workspace?

As I have just completed University I no longer have a studio to work in, so I am having to resort to a small desk in my room. My future plan is to rent out a shared studio space or to join a design group or collective.

 List 5 things you cant live without:

  • Definitely my bamboo tablet and mac!
  •  Sketchbook and pen
  •  My two best friends and fellow illustrators Clair Rossiter and Briony May Smith
  • My family and pet cat Bruno
  • and I do love a bit of chocolate!

Is illustration always something you have wanted to pursue?

Illustration wasn’t my initial career choice whilst at school and college. To be honest I didn’t really understand what it was back then! I have always loved animals and sport so considered either being a vet or a P.E. teacher. Art was a subject I only ever considered as a hobby and it wasn’t until I had to choose what to study at A-Level that I had to decide between sport and art. Sport was my first choice, however as the college I attended in Southampton was small and demand for this subject low they weren’t able to run this course. So art it was! Although at the time I was upset about this decision, it proved a blessing and a fundamental turning point in my life that brought me to where I am today.

I didn’t really understand what Illustration was at school! I was planning to be a vet or a P.E. teacher.

What does your day look like?

My daily routine generally consists of getting up a 7:30, checking emails and getting ready. I am most productive in the morning so I like to work on illustrations up until lunch. To break up the day I usually pop out to the gym, do some shopping or meet a friend for coffee. I would then continue illustrating until I have to start my part-time shift at the local supermarket.

Highlight of the last 12 months?

This would definitely have to be my trip to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in Italy and an industry visit to New York with fellow course mates to receive feedback on our portfolios. These were both incredibly insightful and inspiring trips and I was lucky enough to visit publishers such as the New Yorker, Wall Street Journal, Hodder, Walker, Macmillan and Penguin. In the next couple of years I hope to have a few children’s picture books published and to be working on some fun design projects for various companies and organisations.



Posted on May 29th, 14 by | Twitter: @lisahassell

Founder & director of Inkygoodness, Lisa is a published writer and arts journalist, focusing on creative business, graphic art and illustration and design education. Her words regularly appear in Computer Arts, Creative Bloq, Digital Arts and IdN.

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