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Rachel Urquhart is an Australian born illustrator and creative force, whose dreamy gypsy sketches draw you in and seemingly allow you to travel to parallel dimensions, where everything is made with pixie dust. Rachel’s art isn’t just visually pleasing, but it creates an atmosphere of dream like landscapes and mythical creatures that are at once both beautiful and mystical.
When we decided to launch our new column Stylistic, Rachel was an easy choice to kick things off, as she is coastal chic, and classically cool. Form her art to her own personal style Rachel is defining what it means to be free in form, function, and fashion.
We caught up with Rachel to talk about her own personal style, growing up on a farm, and how she started working with Volcom. We are proud to present Stylistic with Rachel Urquhart.
Tell us a little bit about your life, where did you grow up and where do you call home now?
I grew up about halfway up the east coast of Australia, on a small farm where I kind of grew up wandering around on my own a lot — in the bushland and the creeks, and on the beaches. I have lived all over the east coast, studied journalism, worked in newspapers and magazines while moonlighting as an illustrator, and eventually the illustration side of things started to take way more precedence over my writing career. I live in Melbourne now, which is on the very southern end of the Australian mainland (down near Bells Beach)… it’s an incredible city with an amazing arts scene, but it’s a lot colder than I’m used to.
Did you grow up in a creative environment; was your family supportive of you creative endeavors?
It’s strange, I never really thought of my parents as creatives, because they worked pretty straight jobs as teachers and really encouraged me to study a conventional field at university (journalism). But really, my dad is a wood and leatherworker who designed our family home and really instilled in me this great appreciation of the natural world that kind of bent my perspective. He’d bring home treasures and wonders from around the farm and the ocean, like orphaned animals and beautiful feathers and water dragon eggs… And my mum was this 70’s weaving and macramé babe and is now an incredible gardener and cook. So, although I didn’t really recognize it as a traditionally creative environment, it really was.
How did you first discover your talent, what inspired you to create art?
I’ve always been into drawing. I think from a young age I was told at school that drawing was my “thing”, so I did it a lot and it actually did become my “thing”. Also growing up on the farm pre-internet and without any kids nearby to play with, I was left to entertain myself a lot, which if it was raining meant I spent my time drawing. It just built from drawing all the time, and I think it was all driven by a desire to bring something new into the world, or to communicate something so important, magical, and stupefying that I can’t quite put it into words.
Your illustrations seem to have an element of wonder and spirit, what informs your style today?
A huge part of it is the natural world that I grew up in — I’m always chasing the feeling of intense wonder I get from catching nature at work. That magic of finding a cicada just hatching out of its shell, a rare shell on the beach, seeing a baby hawk learning to fly… Something awesome, overwhelming, powerful, and way larger than whatever humans think they’re up to.
Does that play into your own personal style as well?
I’d never thought about that, but it probably does! I’m a terrible over-dresser, addicted to sequins, leather fringing, big hats, elaborate jewelry and brilliant prints — just more magic and drama!
How did you start working with Volcom, how has that experience been?
Kim (Volcom Australia’s creative manager) approached me about working with them after seeing my work around online. It’s been so much fun, just seeing how everyone works, hanging out with other female creatives, sharing that knowledge with a bunch of rad girls at the “School of Cool” nights we’ve hosted in Aus and NZ, and going on impromptu adventures. There’s a really strong support for the creative culture within Volcom, which I really appreciate. And I get to go on totally self-indulgent art journeys for the blog, which is great fun.
What project are you currently working on?
I’m working on some new graphics for Volcom Europe, but other than that, just lots of personal stuff over the Christmas/New Year break, which has been a nice change. The Australian summer is always a personal-creative bloom for me… I head back to the farm, draw, drink, hang with family, collect flowers and treasures, watch birds, swim a lot and let my mind grow wild.
As we move into 2016, what are your goals for the New Year?
I’m terrible with goals, before I’ve made them, they just seem to creep up on me and I say, ‘yep, that’s what I wanted to do.’ I’ve resolved to try and practice playing banjo a bit more, if that counts as a goal? And always to work harder, to get freer, to be more environmentally conscious, to read more, to watch documentaries instead of stupid TV shows… all of the things we all promise ourselves at this time of year.
If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring artists, what would it be?
Work all the time. Even when you don’t want to, or don’t think you have anything in mind… Just work. The cruel and unromantic truth that I’ve heard about great creatives is that probably none of them were born geniuses or vessels of divine inspiration, they were just obsessed with what they do and they worked damn hard to get that good.