Meet Rachel, of Rachel Joanis Illustrations. Rachel is the kindest, sweetest, and most thoughtful soul. We have always been a huge fan of her work and are so excited to launch this collection on Yes Neighbour, with all proceeds going to BLM.
If you had to describe yourself in 3 words, what would they be?
- Inquisitive - as pretentious as it may sound, I always want to learn more about things that interest me, acquire new skills (there’s always more to learn in my line of work), and investigate further into topics that I don’t know much about.
How did you get started as an Illustrator?
Illustrating has always been my passion; I have loved to draw since I can remember but my career as an illustrator really began at the end of my final year in university.
I was in the Fashion Communications program at Ryerson, when a friend working for an ad agency at the time, asked if I would create an illustration of Drake for content on their social platforms to post on his birthday. I remember I was beyond thrilled to be asked. I had just started to post illustrations that I had been doing in my spare time, and couldn’t believe that they wanted a custom illustration from me.
That one commission led to meeting the founder of a PR company who really took me under her wing. We collaborated on some incredible projects together and she connected me to several of my first clients. She remains my mentor and close friend today.
What is your absolute favourite thing to illustrate?
I love to illustrate anything associated with the world of fashion and beauty. I have always been inspired by fashion-related images, with their endless possibilities for expression using colours, textures, and styles; I love representing the fashion world through my illustrations.
I also love drawing people; trying to capture their personality and character is always an exciting challenge for me.
What inspires you?
I’m continually inspired by my family and friends, fellow creatives, and designers. I get inspired scrolling through portfolio platform sites, such as Dribbble & Behance, seeing the amazing work that other creatives have published.
Whenever I’m looking for an idea for a new illustration, I’m mainly inspired by current events; reading about what’s going on in the world always gives me new ideas for something to illustrate. I have an ‘inspiration’ folder on my computer that I’m constantly adding to; it’s full of photos and illustrations/paintings, news articles, screenshots taken during movies, quotes, etc. it’s basically a never-ending mood board.
What does creativity mean to you?
I think it means always using your imagination (as corny as that sounds) and being open to new ideas. Keeping yourself open and being flexible in your thinking, leads to seeing things from a new and clear perspective.
I also think allowing yourself to fail is incredibly important. Giving yourself room to make mistakes, and embracing the idea of failure, is a necessary component of creativity. I think the fear of failure can act as a creative block. Taking the pressure off of yourself, can allow for experimentation and freedom, and may lead to your best work.
What is the creative community like in Toronto?
My experience with the creative community in Toronto from the start has been incredibly welcoming and inclusive. I can’t say it enough, I’ve found that so many other creatives are quick to share resources, offer help and share contacts; in particular the female creative community, it’s really amazing.
I’m continually inspired by talented designers/artists and creators based here in Toronto. At times it can feel daunting, and a bit intimidating seeing so much incredible work, but mostly it’s pushed me to be more innovative and think outside the box.
What does a perfect Saturday look like? (pre-COVID..)
Because our week-days are usually pretty hectic, Saturday mornings are sacred for my boyfriend and I. A lie-in is a must. Shortly followed by either cooking or going out for brunch. Add in a visit to a gallery or museum, a quick stop at one of our favourite coffee shops, and topping it all off with a movie at TIFF makes for a perfect Saturday.
Advice to someone getting started as a creator?
The first thing I would say is don’t be afraid to ask for help, and again, try not to be afraid of failure. You’ll learn more about your own style and process from figuring out what doesn't work than what does. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, and don’t get too fixated on creating something “good”. Research whatever discipline you’re planning on following and immerse yourself as best you can.
A dream project of mine has long been to illustrate a New Yorker cover. Another has also been to illustrate/design a film cover for The Criterion Collection. That would be an absolute dream! *fingers crossed*
To see more of Rachel's work or to get in touch with Rachel, check out her website here. And don't forget to check out the Rachel Joanis x Yes Neighbour collection - all proceeds will be donated to BLM.