Happy weekend friends! Today we are visiting with Rachael Novak of Shore Society and getting to know the maker behind her sweet illustrations and prints. Rachael is a madly talented designer & illustrator with a beautiful style (check out her portfolio for a look at her awesome skills!). Rachael hangs out with us to share her work, creative space and artistic inspiration and a peek into her life as a full time creator of handmade goodness. Thanks for sharing your awesomeness with us Rachael!
Hi Rachael, welcome to OMHG, please tell us a bit about yourself!
I’m Rachael, I love gummy bears, painting my nails, and if left unsupervised, could eat a whole box of Cheez-Its in one sitting. I am pretty silly and I also have a bit of a guttermouth—somehow I was never punished with a swear jar! I live in Cleveland in an apartment with bright green walls. I have a BFA in Graphic Design from Kent State, which I finished in 2008. I’ve always known that I wanted to an artist of some sort, so I’m really grateful that I get to do what I love. Right now, I design cards for American Greetings as my day job, and run Shore Society and do commissions in my own time.
So, when did you start Shore Society?
Although Shore Society just recently got its (official) name, I’ve been growing my side business for the last couple of years. My first “break” came with a gallery show, then shortly after I participated in Made in the 216, Cleveland’s local handmade event. Ever since, I’ve continued selling at Made in the 216, and expanded to sell my product at a few other local shops. My online sales have also grown by continuing to sell on Etsy and partnering with Poppytalk Handmade in this year’s Holiday Market. It’s amazing to be a part of the handmade community—everyone’s been so nice and supportive.
How would you describe your work?
My illustrations are sweet and a little quirky, and usually inspired by animals, words and lettering, and everything nautical (I could stare at boats on the water for hours!). I love Cleveland and love the Midwest so I think my work always reflects that attitude—of friendliness and warmth with a hard-working edge. Process-wise, I typically draw or paint by hand and then do some editing to my art digitally.
Did you ever have an “aha” moment along your journey?
Probably too many to count! But I think my biggest lightning bolt moment was a combination of 1) realizing I didn’t want a traditional agency-type design job, and 2) discovering that I can grow a viable side business that fills my need to create on my own terms. You can’t count on the right job or the right company to make it happen for you. Not only do I feel more in-control of my future, but I feel more satisfied that I’m accountable for my mistakes and successes—no one else is. My philosophy is “if your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to it.”
You call yourself a designer and illustrator. Which hat do wear most?
I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive—I think having a designer’s sensibility makes my illustration work stronger. So they work together! I still do traditional print design, but try to lend a hand-done touch to everything. If I’m working on a logo or design project, the more I can draw it, the better. I like to hand-draw my lettering whenever possible. A lot of my early experience involved nudging type around on a computer…I mean, I’m a slave to the details, but that’s just not my style. I like to make bigger moves. Do it by hand, blow it up, paint it differently, crumple it up if it sucks. I need that action to feel like I’m doing something.
Do you have your own studio? What is your workspace like?
I wish I had more of a studio, but right now I work from my own little corner of our apartment. With the limited space we have, I’ve actually been challenged to organize and condense all of my supplies and tools (which is a lot)! I have a wide-format inkjet printer that I use to print my illustrations, and I use a Wacom tablet for drawing digitally and editing. It’s a total full-service corner office! So for now, I have a little home studio, but hope to someday have a full room at home or a space to rent and share with other designers.
What do you like to do when you’re not designing?
I love to cook and bake, but if I’m not cooking for myself, my boyfriend and I love to go out to eat. There are so many great restaurants around here so it’s tempting to go out every night. In the summer and fall, I spend a lot of time outside and by the lake, watching boats, having a beer, riding bikes. Summer around here is a total blast. Other times when I need a break, I also like to go to my mom’s house to see her dogs, they always brighten my day!
So what’s next for Shore Society?
A lot, I hope! I have actually been picking up more pet portraits lately, so that’s a surprising and very welcome development. I love animals and drawing other people’s pets is fun for me. I also hope to partner with a few other online shops, as well as have my work carried in a few more stores. There are some other really exciting things coming up that I unfortunately can’t share quite yet, but I assure you you’ll be hearing more from me this year! Shore Society grew a lot last year and I’m doing everything I can to make 2012 even better!
Say hi to Rachael here in the comments + connect with her online:
Love the Hemmingway print! Good luck w/ all of your endeavors & can’t wait to see more!
Rachael so nice to meet you-I am totally crushing on your “I have always loved you print” I say that to my daughter all the time. And wow American Greetings? That must be super fun! Thanks for letting us meet you – I’m sure you are really AMAZING – if your ever in North Carolina we could have cupcakes and drink a Mt. Dew 2-gather!
Racheal, Your designs are delightful, wishing you all the best with your creative business. LOVE the ‘kitteh’s in the boxes’..adorable.
Very fun interview, Rachael’s work is great! I have a tiny studio space too and it can be challenging to keep it all organized.
Cool stuff. Very creative. I really like that sailer guy. Can’t wait to see more.
Great work! I love the kitties!
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