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How it started vs. How it’s going: Rach Lloyd – BA Illustration

Have you ever looked at an artist’s work and thought that they must have always been that good and sure of what they’re doing? It’s easy to look at a piece of creative and not understand the development that leads up to the finished product. How it started vs. How it’s going aims to highlight what goes on in the background of each creative project, as well as comparing the artist’s personal growth over time. In this episode we speak to BA (Hons) Illustration student Rach Lloyd, and compare her practice from Year One to Year Three. Rach tells us all about her illustrative journey, and her love for letterpress and printmaking.

How it started: Rach’s work when starting at NUA

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What got you into illustration?

I started to focus on illustration when I realised what it was, rather than what I thought it was.

Almost anything can be defined as illustration; photography, design, printing, even performing. It’s all created from the same process: thinking and making. That doesn’t have to be drawing.

How would you describe your practice, then and now?

My style was much more experimental before I came to NUA. I was doing a foundation at Kingston School of Art – we had weekly projects, and individual ideas were a huge focus.

Now in year 3, I am trying to get back to that place where I would make a variety work, letting my own ideas exist on the page.

Where do you get your inspiration?

My biggest inspiration is comedy. It’s a great encourager of challenging perceptions and encouraging thinking.

Not only does comedy push me to trust an audience, but it has also revealed transferable processes that can be applied to illustration to create playful and fun imagery.

Comedy also has to be constantly assessed and reflected upon, which is also an important factor of illustration. Analysing issues and insensitivities in our work helps us to be more inclusive and self-aware, helping us to be more respectful in general.

I think it’s really important not to only have art inspirations. It can be quite intimidating, and make you want to copy the style of the artist you love, so non-visual inspirations, such as radio and reading are also really great to encourage imagination and creativity.

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What do you love about illustration?

It’s range. Some illustrators are brave enough to put their whole life story and personal battles into their art, so that others can find comfort and belonging in a shared experience.

Others focus on shapes and style, and are comfortable with the simplicity and decorativeness of their work.

The range is so valuable, because people look to illustration for both meaning and escape.

That’s why I look to comedy a lot, because it too offers meaning and escape. Letting an audience think and breathe on their own is a really exciting part of resolving work.

How it’s going: Rach’s work now

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How has studying at NUA helped develop your practice?

NUA has quite a good workload balance, meaning if you really don’t get on with the project you’ve been set, you can set yourself projects around it to keep progressing and making.

The intensity isn’t so much that you have no time to think, but enough to have had a couple of different workshops every week.

What have you learned about yourself as an illustrator since studying here?

Being at NUA has helped me create a healthy mentality towards illustration.

In years 1 & 2 I was mostly focused on getting good feedback, making changes only to tick boxes. I was losing my own thoughts and directions, and learned that the most important thing is to do what you love, but also know what you don’t enjoy.

Making work to impress and make money can potentially make you feel very unfulfilled and stressed, so finding a sometimes risky but honest route is personally important.

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And what about your practice?

The most important thing I’ve learned is that I enjoy printmaking the most, and am working towards building that side of my portfolio.

It’s very unlikely it’ll be straight forward or financially do-able straight away, but if you love making work enough to make sacrifices or slowly work up to freelancing, then it could be really worth it.

What advice would you give to someone considering pursuing a creative subject?

It’s really important not to worry about having a style or identity, as it’s often much more exciting to keep testing new processes.

As long as the motivation to work hard and willingness is there, style often comes through practice and focusing on the ideas and message, rather than putting pressure on yourself.

You can keep up with Rach’s work on her Instagram @rachlloydpress

Explore BA (Hons) Illustration