Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Q + A: Rachel Dougherty
Name: Rachel Dougherty
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Q: What are some of the main influences of your work?
I feel like when you're an artist of any kind, everything you love sort of adds into the primordial soup that your work crawls out of. So, main influences? Golden Books, Richard Scarry's Busy Busy World, pencil tests, the Marx Brothers, Chardin, Where's Waldo, 1950s movie musicals, Lautrec, 101 Dalmatians, old westerns, The Raft of the Medusa, John Hendrix, Milt Kahl, and whatever new thing is blowing my mind that day.
Q: What is the first thing you do when you start working? Any warm-up rituals?
I always hear eye of the tiger in my head when I'm laying out my brushes or sharpening my pencils. If I'm having hard time coming up with what to draw, I usually find inspiration in big photobanks (I love shuffling around on the Library of Congress's digital library), or try to find a movie that is relevant to what I'm working on.
Q: What’s a project you’d like to work on?
I'd love to do a biographical picture book. I'm such a history nerd, and I think some of the best stories out there are the true ones.
Q: What has been your favorite Ten Paces swap so far? If you had to add a theme to the line-up, what would it be?
Oh man, it is so hard to decide! I really loved our Old West week and I had a super time with Handsome Gents. We had such great contributors on that one. I'd love to do a deathmatch themed week. A whole bunch of drawings of people fighting to the death? Ideal.
Q: What is your favorite thing to draw?
So many things! Piles of people, cowboys, cars, old men, presidents, lettering, enormous sneakers, people falling on their faces, dogs, jazz hands.
Q: What are some of your favorite things to do outside of making awesome illustrations?
Watching documentaries and reruns, reading books and sometimes comics, drinking coffee, playing board games, dancing while vacuuming, searching for my new favorite restaurant/diner, listening to as much blues as possible.
Q: You’re originally from the Philly burbs, went to school in Baltimore, and now you're back in Philadelphia. How does where you live influence your art - has your return been a source of inspiration for your work?
I don't think I realized Philly's potential when I was growing up here. Don't get me wrong, I had an awesome time in Baltimore--I was sad to go and still visit often. But I love being in Philly so much. There's so much to see and draw, so many people, so much great art, and still all feels like it's just my speed. I love being near my family and seeing old friends. I love all the history in Philadelphia, too. And that is always turning up in my work. Having the revolutionary war jammed down my throat from elementary onwards should have gotten a little grating, I think, but who knew that a five-year stint in Baltimore would make you miss Ben Franklin?
Q: Which of your illustrations is your favorite so far - or if you had to choose a piece from your portfolio to represent yourself, which would it be?
It's so hard to choose. My favorite pieces are always the ones I've jammed the most people into. It's a feat to finish them, but I love that moment when you walk away and go, "Holy CATS! Look at all them!" I did a whole bunch of them in college as part of my thesis (i.e. the one below) and I just got to do a picture book about the sinking of the Titanic, and there are some real crowd gems in there. I can't wait until it prints, and I can finally show them to people!
Q: Do you think your first illustration jobs came more from promoting yourself or from knowing people and having connections?
My first jobs definitely came from knowing people and making connections. The picture books that I've just finished working on for Capstone Publishing were actually my first freelance experience that came directly from promoting myself, which was so awesome! Sometimes you feel like you're just repeatedly making these mailers and sending them out into the void, so getting an email where someone says "I loved your mailer and your work, let's do a book together"? It's amazing.
Q: You and Alyssa have been running Ten Paces and Draw for more than 8 months now, what are your favorite things about the blog?
My favorite thing about collaboration is getting to see something I've created in the hands of another illustrator. I love seeing what they leave in and take out of the sketch, and I love translating someone else's idea into my own kooky language. And with the blog growing with so many new artists and new projects, it seems like every week there's some cool new thing I'm discovering about illustration generally and about my work specifically. I feel like it's helping me grow in my own work, trying all kinds of new things. Also, I love the recurring contributors we have. It's like a strange little community we've created. Having the meet-up in September and actually seeing these people whose work we post every week was really awesome, I hope we can arrange to have another one soon!
Check out more of Rachel's work on her website and blog!
Posted by Rachel