taking flight into art, love, and life (the blog)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Possibilitarian Project: Rachael Taylor

The Possibilitarian Project is more than a blog series, it’s a movement. Because when you step forward as a Possibilitarian — and share the truth about how you created your beautifully messy, magnificently complicated & exquisitely joyful life and career — you give everyone else permission to dream bigger, be braver, and create what they want. And just like that, the impossible simply . . . . . isn’t.

Today we're talking with Rachael Taylor, a surface pattern designer who has exploded onto the scene in recent years with her unique designs, and her hugely popular ecourse. She recently signed on with legendary illustration agent, Lilla Rogers, and she also recently launched and co-founded the worlds first online surface pattern design magazine, Moyo (which is stunning). Whew!

I have had the pleasure of working with Rachael on a few different occasions where I found her to be an absolute delight, mega talented, super professional, and all out inspiring. She has a gift and determination that makes me want to get going. I also have huge respect for how she has recently handled any designer's nightmare. She is a brilliant teacher, full of integrity. Go, Rachael!

Please enjoy her story today. I love getting a glimpse into her beginnings, the place from which she started, the place from which has led her to where she is today. Inspiring.

I graduated with a BA (Hons) in Textile & Fashion Design from The University of Leeds.
Pictured with two of my very good university friends.


Who were you before you became a Possibilitarian? What was your ‘early’ career, or ‘previous life’?

I have always worked in the design industry; I was lucky enough to secure full-time employment straight after graduation. I initially worked for a year as a print and design technician for a small textile company. I then went to work for Hallmark, UK for a further two years; my role was a ‘mac designer’ and specialism was surface pattern design.

The experience of working in house was invaluable and the people were fantastic; however, I always felt more of a number than an individual designer. It was also very competitive, and I never felt I was being true to me. (I was never really allowed to draw from scratch or inject my own ideas; we generally received quite restrictive design briefs.) Early on in my career, I was happy to plod along and soak it all up, but after a while I really began to not enjoy my work at all. I always had a niggling uneasy feeling. It sounds odd but I always knew I was meant to do something else. I just needed to figure out what that was. I always say my ‘inner doodle’ was set free once I decided to go it alone.

Examples of work carried out during my 'Hallmark' days. I only ever designed straight on the computer. My work was a lot more graphic in style back then. I was never really asked to just draw from my head or doodle; it was a rare occasion! I designed a lot of generic gift wrap and a LOT of Christmas products.


What did you (secretly) long for, in that previous life?

I longed to be unrestricted and free within my work. I dreamt of being left to do my own things. I wanted to design and create art based on my personality, my instincts and how I felt rather than creating designs that would tick a particular box or area in the marketplace.

I love spontaneity, and I longed to apply this to more lifestyle and design work. I always hoped I would work for myself one day and imagined myself becoming a freelance designer.

Wire Stitch'- early mixed media piece.

Early on in my career I was very 'hands on.' I was a trained screen printer and specialised in machine embroidery during university. I've always loved mess, texture and spontaneity. This is something I still try and apply to my commercial design to inject a little of the 'old me' into my work. This piece was created during my university days and demonstrates how 'free' I like to work, it just feels more natural to me. I use to doodle and create marks using the sewing machine!

Most of my current collections incorporate some sort of free line work, texture, paint splats or mark making, when  I started on my own in 2008, I actually dug out all of my old university work to inspire me. I had become so  commercial and lost who I really was. It was a great eye opener for me and it help me remember what I loved about design so much!

::Moment of Truth::

Was there a pivotal moment when everything shifted? What happened?

Initially planned to leave full time employment in October 2008; however, I handed my notice in during April 2008. I had become quite unhappy and was really feeling lost, I felt like the creative world was becoming out of reach, and at one point (just for a split second) I even considered giving up my designing! The moment I felt like that I knew it was time to hand my notice in. I’m very lucky to have wonderful supportive friends and family around me. At this point I didn’t have a definite plan or work lined up but I knew my happiness was more important. It was quite risky, as I had just bought a house with my partner, but I was willing to take on any temporary/casual work whilst I figured out how to create my new creative life.

I had to give a months notice and during that month I worked crazy hours, building up my portfolio and setting up meetings with potential clients. In the beginning I took baby steps and set myself weekly goals. It was scary, but I knew I really had to go for it. I did get a few ‘no’s’ in the beginning, but I believed in myself and knew it would take time. Dealing with rejection can be hard, but I’m someone who doesn’t like the ‘what ifs;’ I’d rather try something than to have never of given something a chance. I love the saying "Never regret the things you do; only the things you don’t."

I knew it wouldn’t be easy, and it could be difficult financially at the start, but I was prepared to make a lot of sacrifices to make it happen. I really want to be in it for the long haul, and I knew it wasn’t a spur of the moment career path. I really hope to have longeveity as a designer.

I love this quote:

“Entrepreneurship – is living a few years of your life like most people won’t,
so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t."
– Unknown

I gradually built up a small amount of clients and took each ‘yes’ and new contract as a sign I was doing the right thing. And as the each job came in, I gained more confidence and courage. I wanted to design in a way that was true to me. For nearly a whole year I built up lots of collections in my own time (on top of working on freelance projects for others). I was lucky enough to be able to design my own website with the help of a very talented friend. My website and work received a lovely review on the renowned ‘Print and Pattern’ blog in February 2009 and from then on I became recognized as an independent designer.

After freelancing for a while (as an unnamed artist), I dreamed of putting my own stamp on products and being able to add my name to collections sold in the marketplace. After lots of independent bespoke requests I decided to launch a small product line in the UK (I looked after and managed the manufacturing) and shortly after I started receiving licensing requests as companies saw the potential that my own individual collections had. I never assumed I’d become an international brand, I just wanted to be recognized as an independent artist. But before I knew it, I had built a design label. I think being true to myself and injecting my own personality into my work and website created a look that defined my signature style. It felt like an organic and laid back process rather than being contrived. It also attracted the type of clientele I dreamed of working for.

An example of Rachael's current work


How has your life changed since then?

My life really has been one roller coaster; there have been ups and downs and lots of sacrifices. I really wouldn’t change a thing! I have been on such an exciting life-changing journey. I have really had to learn on the job, and I’ve made some mistakes along the way. I believe things can happen for reason, and every little thing (good or bad) has played a part in my career and shaped my creative path.


Where are you NOW? What have you created, what’s on the horizon, and how have you been applauded & recognized for your work? (This is your chance to brag away & BIG yourself up! Go for it!)

At the moment I’m in a really good place. I really pushed myself this past year (and had little sleep and minimal time off), but the hard really does pay off! I’m so thankful for all the exciting opportunities that I have received and am very lucky to have worked on some wonderful projects, including the e-course I launched with award-winning entrepreneur Beth Nicholls at the end of 2011. ‘The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design’ (the e-course) really has changed my life. I have been able to connect with creative people from all the around the world, and it has been a great learning curve for me too. I feel truly blessed at the moment; working on the e-course has been so rewarding. I’ve literally been in tears (happy tears!) and so overwhelmed by some of the feedback we have received. To know you have had a positive impact on someone’s life is such an honor, and it is really mind-blowing!

I have always designed organically and spontaneously most of the time. I just play my music and draw freely. I try to let my work just happen, and more often than not it’s a happy accident. The fact that the majority of my clients give me this freedom and recognize my natural style has been a great reward and something I've always longed for! My patterns are applied to various products, and my style seems to translate easily and adapts to various areas of the market.

Sometimes the same design has been used multiple times from decorating iPhone covers right through to large-scale wallpapers! It’s so rewarding to see your own design in the marketplace, but to see it presented in various ways at the same time is really exciting! I have to pinch myself sometimes…

The international growth of my business has expanded rapidly over the past twelve months. It has been amazing yet exhausting. I’m truly grateful to now be in a position to hire help. I have a fantastic assistant and wonderful PR consultant. At the moment I’m trying get the work/life balance back as I’m a little addicted to my work! I really do pour my heart and soul into my business, but I now understand the importance of holidays and taking time out.

As a creative person you need to feel fresh and inspired, so always remember to be kind to yourself at the same time! (Easier said than done sometimes.)

My licensing and e-course is really booming at the moment. I’m now in my fourth year of flying solo, and I’ve never looked back! For me to keep doing what I love is a dream come true! I never take my work for granted, and I’m so honored to have worked and collaborated with so many talented people. I love the fact that every day is different, and I wake up every day excited by the possibilities and opportunities that are ahead. I dread thinking about what would have happened if I had never had the courage to take that leap!? I may not been designing right now!


What’s ONE piece of advice or encouragement you’d give to someone who’s facing their own pivotal moment, right now?

To believe in yourself; take that leap! I always think if you want something so much you really can make it happen. I made a promise to myself to stay truly dedicated to my goal (and never, EVER give up!). I tried not to worry and think too much about the big picture, that way you are not so overwhelmed. Daily, weekly and monthly goals are realistic and manageable. I think if you don’t try something it will always niggle away at you so you might as well as just go for it! Remember to celebrate your achievements along the way no matter how big or small. When you're having a bad day and things are not going to plan it’s important to reflect and remind yourself how far you come. Life really is short so make the most of every opportunity and chance that you are given.

Thank you, Rachael!
You can connect with Rachael through
Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Blog

Rachael Taylor is A Possibilitarian. Are you?

Feel free to snag any and all of these for your sidebars. I just ask that you kindly link it to ThePossibilitarianProject.com so that others can join in the fun. Thank you!

Do YOU know a brave, tender & wildly inspiring person . . . someone who has created their dream life & career, on their own courageous terms? Nominate them for The Possibilitarian Project!


Lesley Grainger said...

Thanks for the inspiring post! Rachels designs are awesome!

gioia albano Mama Artist said...

Great article and I love your style!!!

margherita arrighi said...

adoro quel piumone...grazie Rachael