From the serene landscapes of Northamptonshire, UK, Rachel Parker, fondly known simply as Rachel, embarks on a textile journey that takes her around the world. Today, we're thrilled to introduce this mastermind behind the vibrant patterns as we release her exclusive fabric collection in Australia. Ok lets get to it:
- Name/Nickname: Rachel
- Location (City/Country): Northamptonshire, UK
- Preferred pronouns: she/her
Let's Get to Know Your Creative Journey
When did you discover your passion for fabric artistry?
I took an Art Foundation course after finishing my A Levels where we basically got to have a go at lots of different crafts, everything from ceramics to lithography printing to glass-blowing (though I’m pretty sure I chickened out of glass-blowing from memory, too much fire for me!). I soon realised that the fabrics and embroidery were calling to me the most, so I started spending most of my time in the print studio. It was such a fun year and really changed the way I thought about design.
How did you venture into surface pattern designs? Was there a particular moment or experience that sparked your interest in this field?
I knew I loved working with fabrics, but I didn’t really know how that could be someone’s job. I chose to study Textiles at university in Norwich, partly because I loved the city but also because the course really encouraged experimentation, which felt like a continuation of the fun that I’d had on Art Foundation. In our first year we were taught how to knit, sew and weave, which was all fun but didn’t feel like me. Then we were shown how to create a giant repeating pattern and something in me just clicked - I started seeing patterns everywhere! It felt like the possibilities were endless and I knew I wanted to be the person who got to design for all of those exciting products.
What are your biggest sources of inspiration? (e.g., nature, culture, dreams, etc.)
Like many designers, I find the natural landscape endlessly inspiring. I really think that inspiration is everywhere if you remind yourself to look for it!
Is there a specific color that you find yourself drawn to repeatedly?
I often use a lot of pink in my designs, it’s such a versatile colour and I love all of the tonal variations, from dusty rose to the brightest fuchsia.
Do you have any quirky rituals or habits that boost your creativity?
My creativity is definitely boosted when I take the time to clean and clear my desk. I also deal with any admin/emails that I know will play on my mind. Then I make a cup of tea and put on an audiobook (something fantasy based) or a podcast (probably True Crime, yes I’m one of those nuts), and hope that the dogs don’t interrupt my flow by barking at the postman.
Behind the Scenes:
Describe your creative workspace in three words.
Sunny, colourful, escape.
What's the most unusual tool/material you've ever used in your artwork?
I created a design by rolling marbles in paint once, maybe I should dig that out!
Any funny or memorable incidents that happened while working on a project?
Asking my boyfriend to pose as a skier so that I could draw him without having to reference too many images from google was pretty funny!
Which artwork or design are you most proud of, and why?
I’m always really proud of my most colourful designs, for example the rainbow colourway of ‘Somewhere’. So often you’ll hear advice about narrowing down your colour palette and being selective with colour choices, but it’s always so much more fun to just follow your instinct and throw everything at it! I sometimes get messages from people who’ve made something out of one of my colourful fabrics to say that it really brightened their day when they wore it – that's my absolute favourite thing.
Have you ever faced a creative block? How did you overcome it?
I think every artist and designer feels like that sometimes, so the important thing is to recognise it as being part of the creative cycle and not let the frustration weigh you down. If I’m feeling stuck or slow or sluggish then the best thing to do is just walk away rather than try to push through it. This can be hard when you’re working on a client project or you have a looming deadline, but being able to manage your time to suit your creative flow is one of the perks of being self-employed.
Is there any particular project that challenged you but brought immense satisfaction?
Honestly, I feel like that about every client project that I work on! The main challenge is navigating what the client wants, because with the best will in the world it’s immensely hard to communicate what you’re imagining. “I’ll know it when I see it” is something that designers hear a lot! It’s always so satisfying when you arrive at the moment where the client says, “Yes, that’s it!”
If you could collaborate with any artist or designer (dead or alive), who would it be and why?
I love David Hockney’s paintings and I often think they would make amazing fabrics. Imagine being let loose in his archives with the task of putting his landscapes into repeat, that would be a dream!
Imagine you could bring one of your designs to life as a large-scale installation. Which design would it be, and where would you place it?
I think ‘Somewhere’ would be an amazing installation! I’m imagining suspending layered diamonds of acetate or glass. It would need to be somewhere sunny with a gentle breeze.
Art and Beyond:
Aside from fabric artistry, do you have any other artistic pursuits or hobbies?
I used to do a lot of embroidery and cross-stitch, and I took up knitting for a while but never got beyond the lumpy stage. Drawing in my sketchbook is always my favourite way to switch off, it feels like such a mindful process.
What do you like to do when you need a break from creating?
We have a converted campervan and we’ll regularly take off for a few days and go on an adventure, either to the coast or somewhere green. My favourite days include a picnic and end with a campfire.
Words of Wisdom:
If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring fabric artists, what would it be?
I’d say don’t get bogged down in trends and research, try and find your own creative voice. If your art comes from a place of creative satisfaction then that will really shine through.
How do you keep the creative fire burning during challenging times?
Sometimes I think about what I would do if I wasn’t doing this, and I always draw a blank. It’s a hard path and there are many, many times when I’ve wondered if it’ll ever get easier, but I know at my core that this is where I’m meant to be.
Fun Quickfire Round:
- Coffee or tea? Tea
- Sunrise or sunset? Sunset
- Mountains or beaches? Both please!
- Cats or dogs? Dogs
- Pen and paper or digital tools? Pen and paper