London illustrator Rachel Gale captures nature, woodland wonders and food with heart. Her endearing drawings, ever-evolving passion projects, are feminine, uplifting and utterly bewitching. We had a chat to Rachel about her art, background and unwavering desire to get creating. Prepare to feel the doodled love.
Can you tell me a little about your training and artistic background?
Ever since I can remember I have always loved drawing and making. My pencil case and art box has always been one of my treasured possessions. Doodling on my exercise books often got me into trouble. Throughout my school years Art was always my favourite subject so taking a creative path seemed only natural to me. After my A Levels I studied 'Design & Art Direction' at Manchester School of Art for three years, which I loved. I always leaned towards a more illustrative way of working, integrating my preferred hand drawn style into the design briefs I was given. After University, I wasn't ready to move back home so London was my next destination. I imagined living in London to be buzzing with energy, fast paced and super busy, inhabited by people thirsty for opportunity & fun. It really did meet and exceed all my expectations. I hoped that this city would offer the creative opportunities I longed for, although not sure of what exactly they would be. Almost five years on, I adore this city more than ever.
How would you define your style?
I would describe my style as simplistic, fun and playful with a strong sense of 'hand drawness' and craft. I like working in various mediums, from pen and coloured pencils to collage, but drawing using a 0.4 black fine pen is my favourite. Creating repetitive patterns using intricate lines and dots is my bliss. I guess that the things I draw and the 'feel' of my work is a true representation of Myself. My journey as an Illustrator has been slow and organic, and as I grow, my work is ever evolving.
What inspires your work?
Everything around me. I especially like to draw animals, food and nature. I find the colours and patterns in nature absolutely fascinating. Through image making I express and document my feelings and daily life. Taking photographs and keeping a journal is really important to me, especially when travelling to new places. I recently went to Sri Lanka for a month… Wow, what a beautiful place. I kept a sketchbook throughout my trip, back on home turf as I flick through the pages, my memories and experiences radiate and transport me back to this magical island. Near or far, everyday life and experiences fuel my inspiration. Living in London is a constant source of inspiration for me, this place is just bursting with energy. From the people I meet and the walks I take, to the things I eat, this city inspires me. On a deeper and more personal level, practising Yoga has given me the nourishment and self awareness I need to drive my creativity.
Why does wildlife feature so heavily in your creations?
Growing up in a coastal town called Formby has a lot to answer for. Living by the beach we'd go for family walks and spend hours in the sand dunes. The pinewoods was like our second home. Being one of four kids meant we were never bored, we could turn any outdoor activity into an adventure. Hide and seek in the woods and spotting red squirrels was so much fun. I guess thats why now, I love being outdoors surrounded by nature and wildlife. I find animals and birds so interesting to draw, you can bring them to life on the page, with funny expressions and personality. The textures and colours amongst wildlife are so beautiful and endless.
My childhood pets are also ingrained deep in my heart. We always had guinea pigs and rabbits hopping about our garden. My Guinea pig drawing is based on our beloved pet 'Bean', and yes, with his roundness and orange fur he looked just like a baked bean. We'd spend hours in our garden, up in the tree house or helping our Dad in the greenhouse. It feels like only yesterday that I was knee deep in the pond, net in hand, fishing for orange spotted newts & baby frogs. Not to mention, our annual camping holidays to France, these are amongst the most fondest memories of mine. All six of us squished into our people carrier, tents and sleeping bags packed in around us and with our bikes on the roof. Happy days. All these things have shaped me into who I am today, and this is conveyed through my work.
Does living in England influence your work in any way?
Definitely. After all, I am English and I have lived here my whole life so it's had certainly influenced my work. I love this island. England is so diverse; its culture, landscape, architecture and history. England is my Home. A place becomes Home when I'm feeling happy, settled and safe. I have two homes, Formby, North West England and Bow, East London. I do miss living by the sea, but London fulfils me in other ways, I love walking along the canals of East London and I spend a lot of time in Victoria park. The contrast of the green rolling countrysides and the bustling cities makes England so interesting. The people we meet and connect with are hugely influential on ourselves as individuals. For me, especially living in London, I have met so many beautiful people, from all walks of life and ethnicities.
What advice do you have for aspiring designers?
Keep your integrity... I've always followed my heart and gone with what has felt right. Often random encounters have led to little jobs, often when totally unexpected. Working in this creative world, I believe your best tool is to be open and connect with others. Like, chatting with a stranger in a coffee shop or on a bus could lead you to your next job, or could simply inspire you. Being open leads to opportunity and allows chance to step in. Sometimes taking risks and stepping out of your comfort zone is needed to bring on a change of direction, if you get that gut feeling, just go for it.
To learn more about Rachel’s stunning works, and invest in a few pieces yourself, please click here.