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Meet Our Illustrator for Insecure: Rachael Sinclair

Every month, CreativeMornings works with an artist in our community to create an illustration for our global monthly themes. Our monthly themes help spark new conversations and ideas at our events. Speakers around the world are invited to share a story around the theme and what it means to them.

Our global theme for June is Insecure. This month our featured illustrator is Kentucky native Rachael Sinclair, an illustrator and designer.

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Given that these illustrations spark conversations all around the world, it’s only right that we get to know the illustrator.


Meet Rachael Sinclair


Rachael Sinclair is an illustrator, designer, and Kentucky Colonel from Louisville, KY. She spends her spare time cooking, baking, and rescuing houseplants from the clearance sections of various gardening departments. She also enjoys feeding birds and squirrels in a patient attempt to win their undying allegiance so they may become her mighty backyard creature army.

You describe yourself as a “life-long creative.” How did you get into illustration and design? What were some of your biggest creative influences in your early days?

As long as I can remember, I used drawing as a way to catalog my exploration of the world, a sort of reminder note of how things looked, moved, that kind of thing. As I got older, I started treating it more seriously, giving myself assignments and challenges. My mom always had something in the works — sewing, carpentry, or cooking — and I’d be right there with her. She taught me other skills that supplemented my drawing and helped make me better. She was a huge influence and I wouldn’t be as artistically diverse without her.

Creating was just part of me, something I was compelled to do and continually develop. I can’t say I “got into” illustration and design as much as I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else.

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Creating was just part of me, something I was compelled to do and continually develop. I can’t say I “got into” illustration and design as much as I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else.

I understand you also were classically trained. How did you go about transitioning your work to the digital realm? Do you have a preference for analog vs. digital?

I didn’t start working digitally until college. After two years of drawing and painting classes, I found I was drawn to commercial art and illustration as opposed to traditional studio art. That’s when I discovered graphic design. Learning to render things the “old-fashioned way,” however, was invaluable.

I came to digital art with a pre-loaded muscle memory of not just where lines go, but of the nuance, texture, and layering that makes "art” work. The transition was rocky — paper to tablet, staring at a canvas to staring at a screen — but once I made the processes my own, things clicked. Now, I prefer working digitally as it’s more efficient for me.

You focus on truly embodying the essence or feeling of concepts (in both type lettering and visually). What came to your mind when interpreting this month’s theme Insecure?

I see creativity as natural to each of us as flying is to birds (well, most birds). But like the toucan in the illustration, we can be afraid to embrace our gifts. Maybe we’re scared we’ll fail or that others will judge us, so we stay in the trees with a balloon tied around our middle just to be safe.

The world is a brilliant rainforest of opportunities — wild and infinitely fascinating — and if we never take flight, we’re depriving ourselves (and those from whom our creativity might benefit) of so many wonderful things.

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We can be afraid to embrace our gifts […] The world is a brilliant rainforest of opportunities — wild and infinitely fascinating — and if we never take flight, we’re depriving ourselves (and those from whom our creativity might benefit) of so many wonderful things.

As an artist, do you have any rituals or tips for managing or overcoming moments of insecurity?

When I feel anxious about my work or being social, I focus on what I know about myself. Facts are really calming to me as insecurity and anxiety thrive on “what-ifs.” If I remind myself of past experiences, when I had a success or when I punched through fear, that can inform my decisions on a current struggle. Battling insecurity and anxiety is about acknowledging your own personal strength and though it may not completely eliminate those unwelcome feelings, it helps you clear them away a lot faster.

Battling insecurity and anxiety is about acknowledging your own personal strength and though it may not completely eliminate those unwelcome feelings, it helps you clear them away a lot faster.

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Your love for Kentucky can be felt throughout your work. What’s the creative scene like in your city or region and how has it impacted you?

Kentucky as a whole is ridiculously creative. I grew up in a rural community in the western part of the state, full of clever and resourceful people. Just because something was utilitarian, didn’t mean it couldn’t be beautiful. The quilts made from flour sack fabric or the ingenious ways people would repair things stuck with me.

Louisville, my home for a long while now, has the diversity and energy of a big city with the heritage and traditions of the country. Things here are like the grafting of a tree, something new that grows out of the old.

Is there a particular theme or topic related to Kentucky that you love illustrating?

One of the first things I taught myself to draw as a kid was horses, a Kentucky icon for sure. I was really serious about it too, studying my models and books, trying to get it just right. Kentucky is home to some amazing food and in the past few years, I’ve developed an affinity for not only eating it, but illustrating it.

Oh, and I love painting beautiful glass vessels of bourbon; it has such a gorgeous color.


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What’s something that you recently learned or was inspired by that’s influencing your work or life?

A few years ago, I stumbled on a playlist of vintage tiki music (or Exotica) and fell in love. Since then, I’ve used the look and feel of tiki as not only a way to be calm, but energized when I’m working. Somewhat tangentially, I’ve done more food and drink illustration of late. I swear I can smell some of it when I’m drawing or maybe I’ve just had too much coffee and I’m hallucinating!

I see that you’re also a baker. Do you have a recipe or dish that you’d recommend?

I have tons of recipes I’d love to share, but these were the first things I learned to bake with my grandmother and they’re still my favorite!

Peanut Butter Cookies
Ingredients

  • 1 c. white sugar
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 c. peanut butter, creamy or crunchy
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 c. all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp. salt


Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine sugars and butter, beat until creamy. Add peanut butter and beat until combined. Incorporate eggs and vanilla. Whisk dry ingredients in a separate bowl and add to wet mixture gradually.

Roll teaspoon amounts of dough into balls or use a cookie scoop. Place on a lined cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Dip a fork in sugar and mash to dough balls, making a cross pattern on top. Bake 8 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned on the edges and set in the center. Transfer to wire rack to cool and store in an airtight container.

Note: If your dough is too sticky, you can place it in the fridge for 30 minutes before rolling and baking. Also, the dough can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for a day or two, simply let it sit for 10-15 minutes to soften before rolling.

What’s one thing that you’re looking forward to?

I’m really looking forward to drawing and coloring with my baby niece and nephew when they get a bit older!


You can explore more of Rachael’s work on her website, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Dribbble, and Behance.

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