So, tell us a little about you.
My name is Rachel Littlewood, and I’m a London based designer & risographer.
I studied at London College of Communication, and graduated from the BA Design For Graphic Communication course in 2015. A lot of my work is print based, but I also enjoy working on exhibitions, producing installations, and running workshops.
What’s your story? Tell us a little about your background and what you do.
I initially studied Art & Photography at A Level and plan to do a degree in Fine Art, but after completing a Foundation Course at LCC, I found (graphic) design suited me much better. Whilst at university, I discovered the risograph printer and have since been in love with the printing technique. Risograph printers are environmentally friendly machines from Japan that use vibrant soy based inks! The process is similar to screen printing but much quicker to use, which is why I use it for a lot of my projects. I’m currently a freelance printer and workshop leader for Hato Press.
I also discovered I enjoyed making work that has to be experienced physically by it’s audience, such as books, exhibitions, and installations. This year I’ve been working on several installation pieces for the designer Morag Myerscough, including ‘Joy and Peace’ (two installations for the London Culture Mile located in Silk Street and West Smithfield Rotunda Garden).
What artist or artwork inspired you the most growing up?
When I was really young, I was mainly inspired by cartoons I watched, such as Pokemon and Sailor Moon, as I really wanted to be ‘cartoonist’ (I think I really meant comic book artist/illustrator but I didn’t know the right words for it). As I got older, I began to focus more on art and photography at school, perhaps leaning more towards darkroom photography as an interest. I remember really falling in love with the work for Pierre Cordier, who pioneered a technique called ‘The Chemigram’. Chemigrams are a mixture of painting and photography, and rely on experimentation and the artist being okay with the notion of ‘happy accidents’.
What artists most inspire you now?
My favourites at the moment are probably Risotto; a Glasgow based studio known for fun, bold patterns, and Risolve; a fairly new riso press in the US who have been making waves with all their great ideas. There is also lots of illustrators and designers who’s work I admire, but I think my favourite is always changing depending on what kind of work I’m doing myself. Although Studio Moross is always up there in the top 3!
What piece of work are you most proud of? Why?
Last year I designed the identity for ‘Practices of Enquiry’, an exhibition of teaching held at UAL. I was the sole graphic designer for the exhibition, and working alongside the curator I developed the identity, designed all print & digital elements, and the exhibition signage. It was a really nice project to work on, as they gave me free reign over the design, so I was able to suggest a bold colour palette and visual language. I was also just happy with the overall result, and the responses we received from the exhibition visitors.
Do you think people are just born creative or is it something everyone has, but many don’t explore?
I agree with what Picasso said: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”. I’m sure most children enjoy drawing or getting messy with paints, but I think creative jobs aren’t seen as a secure choice so people get discouraged from pursuing them. But I think it’s good to make things, no matter how big or small, or whether it’s professionally or just for fun!
What do you listen to when you work? Recently I’ve been listening to ‘Higher’ by The Horrors. I also like putting on Spotify playlists as they are longer than albums; my favourites at the moment include ‘Soultronic’ (Soul/R’n’B/Electronic mix) which is for when I need to keep motivated and work quickly, and ‘This is: Vaporwave’, which I listen to when I need to concentrate and remain focused.
If you could give advice to yourself growing up, with the benefit of hindsight, what would it be?
I’d probably tell myself to stop worrying about everything, but considering I still worry about everything, I’m not sure I’d actually listen to that advice! But I do think I’d also tell past Rachel that just because I studied graphic design, doesn’t mean my job title has to be ‘graphic designer’. I think when I graduated, I struggled a little with what kind of job I actually wanted to do, and what industry says graphic design is, so I kind of ended up looking at jobs that weren’t really right for me.
What’s next for you?
I’m currently working on a piece for ‘Ideal Science: A Risographic Survey’, an exhibition at Newlyn Art Gallery. The exhibition runs from 05 Dec 2017 till 06 Jan 2018.
My main aim in the next year is to get myself set up with my own risograph printer. This way I can do more printing work and focus more on my own print projects. I also have plans to visit lots of risograph printing press across the UK as part of a risograph colour project I am working on, and I should hopefully be attending the bi-annual riso conference at the Jan Van Eyck Academie called Magical Riso.