10th November 2015 Tereza Litsa

Interview with Rachel Morris

Who inspires you?

My family has always been supportive since I was very young and I’m well aware of how lucky I am for that. It’s very cheesy, but doing well for my husband and daughter is important to me – I’d like to make them proud. In terms of illustrators I admire, there are lots and for different reasons. I grew up immersed in Quentin Blake’s work and greatly admire the sense of immediacy, fun and humour he can get across with a few scratchy pen marks and splashes of colour. Judith Kerr is another illustrator whose work I’ve grown up with – There’s a brilliant documentary about her called ‘Hitler, The Tiger and Me’ and I put it on in the background while I’m working sometimes to give me a shot of inspiration.

When did you start illustrating?

I think I’ve always drawn things, since I was old enough to hold a pencil. I used to draw tiny pictures, mostly faces, on the walls of my parents house. Usually tucked away in a corner behind a chair or somewhere it wouldn’t be discovered immediately. I remember knowing it was naughty but my Mum, Dad and sisters would laugh when they found one, so I did it anyway.

Do you remember your first illustration?

Not really. My first published illustration was in Twinkle magazine when I was about 5. I won a competition – I drew a horse rearing up on its hind legs in a circus and clearly remember drawing a feathery plume on its head and lots of people in the crowd.

Interview with Rachel Morris

How do you find inspiration?

Prepare yourself for a cheesy answer: It’s everywhere. I draw as much as possible. I think everyone goes through creative dry patches, but you’ve just got to keep going and unexpectedly you’ll hit upon an idea and it’s like the exciting whooshing down bit of a roller coaster. Going to the V&A Museum always sparks ideas. They have fantastic collections and I love to include historical details in my work when it’s appropriate. I have sketchbooks full of objects and costumes I’ve drawn to refer to. The BFI also have a collection of the most wonderful old film clips – I watch them and draw things and people that catch my eye. Because it’s a moving image I don’t have long to capture the spirit of the gestures and movement. It’s a good exercise.

Do you have a personally favourite project up to now?

That’s like being asked to choose a favourite from among your children. They all have their moments and I don’t think I’ll ever lose the thrill of landing a new commission. I had great creative freedom with a job I did for Hi-Tec Sports, illustrating the good feedback they’ve had from customers over the years. I also really love some of the custom maps I’ve drawn for private clients. The idiosyncrasies and little personal stories they want included are great fun to draw. And when you’re working with a great Art Director with a clear idea of what they want, that can be an absolute dream.

What’s your favourite theme/topic for your illustrations?

Whatever I’m drawing I try to remember the feeling that no one else is looking at the same scene as me – I mean, they may be looking at it, but not seeing the shapes and colours the same way. I try to keep it fresh and if I can add elements that make people laugh, that’s great. I’m working on a never-ending personal project – It’s a series of drawings, originally inspired by the dodgy phishing emails a friend was receiving all the time (thank you Jo Caird!). I asked the good people of Twitter and Facebook to contribute their favourite subject line or line of text from their junk mail and got some corkers back. I think I’ll be working through them for a few years.

How do you define creativity?

I suppose it’s the urge to make a mark. To show other people how you see things.

What’s your favourite social network to promote your work?

Twitter comes in pretty handy. It’s a great place for sharing/asking for advice and generally keeping up with what’s going on. 3 years ago a campaign called Totally Locally came to the town I live in. Its aim is to remind people to shop at independent businesses and to promote how much good it does for the local economy vs shopping in big chain stores all the time. I heard about that via Twitter and have been working with the team behind the Teddington branch ever since to come up with posters and visual things.

Facebook is good too. There’s a group called Illustration World set up by the illustrator Sarah Underwood. It’s a very supportive community.

Tell us about your professional plans for the future. How do you see yourself in 2 years?

Well, I’d obviously like to draw lots more cards for Thortful! I’d also love to illustrate a whole book and see it displayed in a shop window. That would be wonderful. If anyone can help me make that happen in the next two years, I’m all ears. 

Interview with Rachel Morris

About Rachel

Name: Rachel Morris
City: London
Favourite Quote: “All nice things are good for you” Moominmamma
Dream destination: Anywhere with plenty of coastline.
Favourite Colour: That amazing turquoise-blue colour of the sky at dusk.
3 things you’d take on a desert island: Can I take my family? That’s a soppy answer, but I’d miss my husband and daughter…after a while anyway. If it’s just things I’d take paper, a never ending mechanical pencil with un-snapable lead, and a lovely big yacht complete with an expert crew and fully stocked bar.
Strangest moment I’ve experienced: That’s tricky, so I’ll opt for the moment I learnt that peanut butter and brown sauce is actually a very tasty combination.
“I’d love to____” be able to grant wishes (but I don’t want to live in a lamp or wear harem trousers)
Describe yourself in 3 words: Always getting older.
Link to promote: www.rachelillustration.co.uk


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