5 June 2020

Meet the Artists – Rachael Saunders

Posted in: Animation, Artists, Branding, Children's books, Design, Editorial, Illustration, Meet the artist, Packaging, Publishing

Rachael Saunders illustrations are fun, plain and simple. Every character has a knowing smile on their face no matter the situation or scene and they invite the viewer to join in the joke.

Though it isn’t just Rachael’s character work that share their smiles. Her designs for packaging, posters and book covers are executed with an infectious enthusiasm, Rachael is an artist who is clearly always looking to expand the style and application of her illustrations, creating work for clients like Tesco, Nosy Crow books and The National trust.

Her latest expedition into the world of animation is a perfect fit for her characters who channel the designs of Disney’s 9 Old Men but with a touch of the old elegance of Raymond Savignac and other post-war poster designers. It’s a sure thing that adding an element of movement and imbuing her characters with even more life will definitely bring a smile to a viewer’s face.

We spoke to Rachael about tennis, criticism and character design…

Where do you live? 

Southampton, Hampshire, UK 

Where is your studio located?

At home. 

Can you describe your creative process?

My process is divided 60/40: 60% research, sketching, colour tests and composition, 40% final artwork. I often underestimate the importance of preparation so by separating my time like this, I can make sure that I don’t rush through the earlier stages. My finished illustrations are created on Photoshop using layers of texture and shapes. 

What does a typical working day look like?

I am most productive during the morning so I try to wake up early to get a good chunk of work completed before lunchtime. Then I take the dog out for a long walk and mull over ideas in my head. I enjoy this break away from the screen as it allows me to come back to my work with fresh eyes. I have a slower afternoon, answering emails and making amendments. Most evening I spend playing tennis with my partner and friends to unwind. 

Do you listen to music or the radio whilst you work? If so, what’s on your playlist?

 I listen to different things depending on the mood of the project I am working on. If it has a sad theme I listen to somber music, if it is a piece about a certain person, I find documentaries about them to listen to in the background. This helps me to get into character and become more immersed in the artwork. 

How long have you been with the Artworks for?

Since I graduated in 2014. 

What drew you to the Artworks?

The Artworks were on my radar in the run up to graduation as I was drawn to their personal and friendly approach, along with their impressive portfolio of artists and clients. During my degree show in London I was approached by Alex and Steph, which I was delighted about, and the rest is history! 

What books or programmes did you love as a child? Have they influenced your work in any way?

As a child I was captivated by the animated Disney films; 101 Dalmatians, The Aristocats, Tarzan and many more. The raw spontaneity of the pencilled elements and the enchanting character designs all contributed to my love of illustration. 

If you weren’t an artist, what would you be instead? 

I would love to try animation. 

What was the most important lesson your learned at Art School, if you went!

Don’t take criticism personally. 

What inspires you the most to create?

So many things: watching old films, nature, food packaging, travelling. 

Name three artists that you admire.

Norman Thelwell, Mary Blair and Alice & Martin Provensen. 

What kind of commissions do you enjoy the most?

Anything with character design involved. 

What would your dream commission be?

To design characters and scenes for a children’s animation. 

Do you have any pets? If so, what and what are they called?

I have a pet poodle called Winnie. 

What 5 things could you not live without?

My family, my friends, my garden, good food and a sketchbook. 

What is your very favourite meal?

Anything cooked by my fiancé Ted. 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I am a club tennis player so I enjoy that most weekends, long walks in the New Forest, time spent with family and friends. 

What is your current dream travel destination?

We were supposed to be on our honeymoon right now, so anywhere but home! 

To see more of Rachael’s work, click here.