Rachel Breckinridge '18

I look at my art through the eyes of a painter, a designer, and an art historian, not just of an illustrator.

Describe a body of work that you are currently working on. A recent focus of mine is working on background and setting design. I find it easy for me to design figures, so I am challenging myself with making the focus on where the figure is and how they are interacting with the background. I am striving for my backgrounds to tell a story of their own. Right now I’m working on a painting of a flower shop filled with various plants, old floorboards and walls. The painting is being created in gouache, which is currently my absolute favorite medium.

Full image of cover artwork, Rachel Breckinridge ’18

What’s your background? Besides my aunt, I am the only artist in my family; my parents would always tell me that they were never sure where my love for art came from! I spent a lot of time in hospitals and doctor’s offices as a child, which meant lots of sitting and waiting. Drawing was a great way to pass the time as I distracted myself with my imagination. I think by storytelling in my mind, and putting it on paper, made me really fall in love with illustration. It has a lot of influence on how I am as an adult and in choosing my major.

How has your education at MECA shaped you as an artist? MECA has pushed me to think about my art in many different ways. I look at my art through the eyes of a painter, a designer, and an art historian, not just of an illustrator. My professors encouraged me to take risks and explore options, whether it was through compositions, medium, or style. When I started my freshman year at MECA, I tried to paint as realistically as possible. After quite a bit of trial and error, I finally stumbled upon the style that I am cultivating now. Even through more confidence in a personalized style, I see it still changing and developing.

What inspires you? I am extremely drawn to anything that has a quaint charm. From growing up in a small town, I am attracted to places like farmer’s markets, small coffee shops, and flower shops. At these places, I love people-watching: listening in on conversations or imagining people’s stories. It gives me inspiration to come up with ideas for drawings when I am drawing a blank.

What do you hope to do after graduation? Currently, I am keeping an open mind about what is to come post-graduation. I see myself moving anywhere, really. I have even looked into signing up for the Peace Corps for a few years to get more worldly experience.

The end goal is to make children’s books. As long as I can eventually do that, I will be happy.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? One of my peers received this advice, but it changed my art completely. He was asked why the default for character design is blonde hair, blue eyes, and white skin. Where is the diversity? This conversation made me realize that this character standard was exactly what I was doing within my own my art. Since then, one of the focuses in my illustrations is that there is more representation. It really changed the way I think about what I am creating and putting out there.

What else are you interested in? Currently, I am working on collecting and caring for plants, succulents, and cacti. To me, they have a lot of charm, and they are almost impossible to kill — very helpful to me. I am also currently into thrift shopping and traveling. I recently got back from studying in France for a semester; I caught the travel bug because of it. Overall, my hobbies are always changing.