Rachael Taylor is ‘one of a kind’ working and following her career has been an education and a joy. Optimism, risk taking and passion are some of the ingredients that has given Rachael fuel in her career so far; and even through the hard times she has strived, delivered and met any challenge that has come her way. I am extremely proud to know and have worked with such a talent as Rachael Taylor. Here is a little insight into her creative life so far…
What is your background and where did you study?
I am originally from the Wirral, Merseyside (UK) and graduated from the University of Leeds in 2005, with a BA (Hons) in Textile & Fashion Design. After graduating, my first job was as a print & design technician whilst also working as a part time freelancer in the textile industry. I then then went on to progress my textile & stitched screen printed pieces & held my first solo exhibition called ‘Stitched’ in 2006 at the Brahm Gallery, Leeds. Later that year I was awarded 1st prize in the ‘Janome Creative Competition’ for a layered paper skirt design.
Do you feel university prepared you for work?
University was where I originally developed my signature style of layering, textures & quirky hand drawn linework and was a great time of experimentation for my work. This style is still present in all of my work from my illustrations to my product line. Though university was a valuable experience to me it was my work placements and concurrent jobs after university that really enhanced my knowledge of the industry.
What are the key elements you have learnt from graduating, to going freelance, to eventually running your own business?
I have always worked in the design industry; I was lucky enough to secure full-time employment straight after graduation. I initially worked for a year as a print and design technician for a small textile company. I then went to work for Hallmark, UK for a further two years; my role was a ‘mac designer’ and specialism was surface pattern design.
The experience of working in house was invaluable and the people were fantastic; however, I always felt more of a number than an individual designer. It was also very competitive, and I never felt I was being true to me. (I was never really allowed to draw from scratch or inject my own ideas; we generally received quite restrictive design briefs.) Early on in my career, I was happy to plod along and soak it all up, but after a while I really began to not enjoy my work at all. I always had a niggling uneasy feeling. It sounds odd but I always knew I was meant to do something else. I just needed to figure out what that was. I always say my ‘inner doodle’ was set free once I decided to go it alone.
Just over six years ago I left a secure job to pursue my dreams and take control of my own design path. It really was the best decision ever and has really opened my eyes to what’s out there in the world. I suddenly felt free, it was like a huge weight had been lifted and it really allowed my personality to shine through. I gained confidence as a person and taking that leap encouraged me to push myself both professionally and in my personal life.
Ever since, my life really has been one exciting roller coaster; there have been ups and downs and lots of sacrifices. I really wouldn’t change a thing! I have been on such an exciting life-changing journey. I have really had to learn on the job, and I’ve made some mistakes along the way. I believe things can happen for reason, and every little thing (good or bad) has played a part in my career and shaped my creative journey.
One of the main things I want to convey in my online e-courses is to be ‘you’. Of course we have to learn commerciality but the design industry is a competitive one and injecting your own personality and stamp on things will always help you to stay passionate and create fantastic design.
The attitude I encourage is to just go for it - life is too short. We all get no’s from time to time but it’s good to at least try and I think the online support had just given a lot of the students the encouragement and reassurance they need.
How do you start licensing your work? What is the route you took and what do you recommend others to do?
I initially licensed a small amount of pieces via an agent (these were mainly unnamed ranges) after a while I decided to launch a small product line of my own, as I wanted to become a recognised brand. Soon after I was approached about further licensing deals as a branded range using the ‘Rachael Taylor’ trademark.
You have started a business on ‘How to Make it in Design’ which includes the groundbreaking e-course ‘The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design’ with Beth Kempton from Do What You Love. Is the teaching side something you would like to do more of?
It’s hard to explain the buzz you get from teaching, it was quite nerve-wracking in the beginning as you worry that people may find you boring, not like you or not enjoy your teaching. Luckily I’ve found it to be a completely rewarding experience. To be able to help and inspire others is mind blowing. I’ve been lucky to be able to teach across the UK and even in the US and I really look forward to doing more in the future.
At an early business age, you have achieved a lot - what keeps you driving forward?
I’m someone who is really inspired by motivational quotes.
I especially love this quote…
“Entrepreneurship – is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.”
You really do have to believe in yourself and take that leap! I always think if you want something so much you really can make it happen. I made a promise to myself to stay truly dedicated to my goal (and never, EVER give up!) I tried not to worry and think too much about the big picture and that way you are not so overwhelmed. Daily, weekly and monthly goals are realistic and manageable. I think if you don’t try something it will always niggle away at you so you might as well as just go for it! I always remember to celebrate my achievements along the way no matter how big or small. When you’re having a bad day and things are not going to plan it’s important to reflect and remind yourself how far you have come. Life really is short so I make the most of every opportunity and chances I am given.
You have recently published a book called 20 ways to draw a Doodle - how did this come about?
I was approached by Quarry Books through my US agent Lilla Rogers and was asked to illustrate for one of their ’20 Ways to Draw…’ series. They had seen examples my work and thought the doodle version would go well with my hand drawn, quirky style. It was a lot of fun and I got to draw so many different things that I would never have thought to draw before! It is a dream come true to be the author and illustrator of my very own book!
20 Ways to Draw a Doodle: http://www.rachaeltaylordesigns.co.uk/shop/paper/books/20-ways-to-draw-a-doodle-book#.U9pPP1Zr57Y
What is next for Rachael Taylor Designs?
I hope to continue doing what I love. I really hope to have longevity as a designer. I really would love for my design brand to keep growing, be able to teach around the world and possibly create some children’s’ clothing designs and books. I enjoy the not knowing sometimes, as long as I continue to do my best, be happy, work hard and remain dedicated, I’m quite happy to see where the journey takes me.
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