Rachel Esposito is a CCAD alumni who studied Illustration and Art History. Her work is largely watercolor and ink based inspired by fairytales, mythical themes, macabre and feminine forms.
Q: When did you start working in your medium and why?
I began focusing on watercolor and ink for my illustrations towards the end of my junior year of college at CCAD. It started out of convenience at first! Walking to school every day, carrying around oil/acrylic paints, mediums, containers, pallets, brushes, soap, illustration board/Masonite board etc. it became really tiring and sometimes hurt-lugging it all around campus. Not to mention up and down flights of stairs to my apartment. Around the same time I was gifted a huge bag of watercolor paints from my cousin, so I started playing around with them.
When senior year started I had classes that made me take a harder look at the artwork that I love and I am inspired by. More often than not, most of the artists were using the same medium I was just starting to use. It was an enlightening moment. I should’ve been exploring and using that medium all along.
Q: How would you describe your work to people? And how has it changed over time?
I would describe my work as Illustrative in design, limited color pallets, with a focus on fairytale and mythical/witch-like symbolism, as well as dipping into the macabre and gothic themes. I would say my work has changed quite a bit over the years. I think my inspiration was much more influenced by macabre and unsettling subject matter. I was also more interested in a fine art approach, it satisfied me for a little while but I missed the structure that illustration brings to the table.
Q: What’s your favorite part about your work? What can make it challenging?
I could never pick one favorite part, but what first comes to mind would have to be the idea for a piece. It’s very exciting when you start sketching or brainstorming or just going about your day and this idea morphs into your brain and your own reaction is “Yes! That’s what I want to do next!” As far as creating the work, I love the painting process. It’s the most fun for me.
The most challenging part can also vary. Every creative person can get artist’s block, and we all know how frustrating and deflating it can be. The most challenging part is sitting down when you know you need to make something, but you have no idea what! If I am in the process of making a piece-the idea is down, drawing is done-now I have to ink it. I have butchered many a piece with bad inking. I’ve also been known to get the shakes in my hands, so sometimes I just have to do something else so my hand doesn’t shake when I need to draw a straight line.
Q: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given in regards to your art?
I’ve had one teacher who was good at rattling me out of my own cage. While addressing his entire class he would say “Don’t be a slave to your reference.” which I often struggled with, I didn’t know how far to stray to make a piece uniquely mine. He would go on repeating this phrase to the class-and to me individually as well.
Another event that sticks out in my mind, He pointed to a drawing I was working on-while I was still struggling with how to draw my illustrations-and he said, “What is that? That’s not good. You’re better than that. Do it again.”
Q: What’s your favorite part about Art Crawl?
This will be my first time with Art Crawl. It’s always exciting to see artists gathered together to show their creations in a space for the public to wander through and purchase if they are that taken with a creation. Doing events like Art Crawl is the biggest inspiration and reward in making art.
Q: If you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
I’m excluding all family members who have crossed over-because it would not be fair to just pick one of them.
One of my favorite writers would be my choice. Angela Carter wrote some of my favorite interpretations of different fairy tales that inspired a lot of my works. I would love to hear more about her process in writing The Bloody Chamber in person.
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