EST. 2009

August 19, 2021

That Wild Lounging

IT WAS ON THIS PARTICULAR SUMMER that I went wild swimming for the first time, which naturally drew me to Rachael Gan's Wild Lounging illustration of a young woman floating in a lake. The illustration forms part of the artist's Summer Series: nine digital illustrations created in summer 2021.

I consider the series Rachael's first body of work reflecting artistic perspective and personal style. Having had the privilege to witness her begin to dabble in illustration, and eventually develop into an illustrator, the collection feels very much like a debut, made with all the buoyant feelings of summer no less.

Here, I chat with Rachael about her craft.

LSP: What inspired you to start illustrating?

RG: I’ve always loved visual art - going to galleries to admire art and discover new artists. And,in my every day realm, appreciating the aesthetic and cleverness of artworks and illustrations in books and magazines.

The turning point in my illustration journey was lockdown 2020. Prior to then, I’d dabbled in art through weekend and evening classes but I identified as more of an art appreciator than a creator. During the lockdown, I found (like many of us) that I had much more free time at home. And with that time, I was motivated to draw more, and create original artworks. I also took a course in Enhanced Illustration through Central St Martins. The frequent practice helped me grow my skillset and confidence to the point where I now think of myself as an illustrator and creator.

LSP: Do you have a favorite medium to work with? Any styles and subjects you gravitate to?

RG: In terms of mediums, I love painting with watercolor for its looseness and unpredictability. I also really enjoy drawing with ink pens. You can’t pause for too long when you’re drawing with ink since it will pool, so the lines are always very fluid and elegant. My other favorite medium is digital - illustrating on an iPad with an apple pencil using Procreate (software), there are just so many possibilities!

In terms of subjects, I gravitate to scenes that evoke joy. The Summer Series of prints I just completed were based on my own excitement this summer for warm days, particularly following our challenging winter lockdown in the UK. With the summer series, I wanted to create scenes that evoked a nostalgia for summers gone and joy for summers to come - with brightness, serenity as well as intrigue.

LSP: Describe your process. How has this differed before, and since the pandemic?

RG: My process is still changing. However, right now, it involves: Deciding on the subject of the illustration.
Finding reference images and collaging them into a mood/inspiration board. Then, I’ll roughly draw a few different compositions for the subject, and select the one I like most for the underdrawing of the actual illustration.

Once I’ve decided on the rough composition, I’ll set a target date for completing the work. And then it’s quite an organic process. I’ll draw, paint, and create to complete the work by that date, making decisions and changes as I go. Deadlines help me focus, so I like to set myself timelines even if they’re somewhat arbitrary, both for my own work as well as client commissions.

Lastly, I’ll refine. With a physical work, there’s a limit on the number of tweaks I’ll make once the first pass is done. With digital works, I may continue to tweak for weeks (or months) after.

LSP: How do you stay motivated?

RG: As a new illustrator, I’m still experimenting and working out my style. Setting goals helps me stay motivated. I’ll say to myself "This month, I want to make an NFT." or "Next month, I want to create a large mixed media work." And then I’ll work to do it, often watching lots of youtube/skillshare tutorials to learn techniques, and looking at other illustrators’ work for inspiration and alternative perspectives. I love seeing what other artists and illustrators are creating, both in galleries and on instagram. My social media usage has gone up a lot since I became an illustrator.

LSP: What advice would you give to new artists?

RG: Try all the mediums. Create often. You learn the most through doing. You’re not going to love everything you make. This is advice I also often give myself.

Wild Lounging, Some Sweet Things, and Beach Days 2 by Rachael Gan. Shop the prints at