From Project Manager to Illustrator: In conversation with Rachael Presky

Rachael Presky captures a diverse range of faces with her vibrant and kinetic illustration style. Her mission statement is to give everyone a voice, representing the underrepresented.

Why did you decide to take up your creative trade?

I was made redundant 2018 from my ‘corporate’ job as a Project Manager and took the opportunity to see if I could start illustration as a career! I had finished a part-time Masters in Graphic Design the year before but wasn’t keen on how restrictive it can be which is why illustration spoke to me and I felt I’d be able to express myself better. My previous work experiences have supported my illustration career and meant I could focus on the illustration aspect.

How do you get past creative blocks?

I think I look at creative blocks as I do the rest of my life, I take myself out of the situation and try to do something different and new! It can be a walk with my family and dogs, a visit to an art museum, or even a conversation with a creative friend. I find chatting ideas with people who are on a similar wavelength really helps.

What is your creative process?

I take a brief and come up with a couple of different ideas around that, some more rogue than others and sketch them up, before delivering them to a client. Sometimes people have a defined brief already so I can send them one sketch of the idea but other times, I’ll come up with 2-5 ideas and present them all! Then I move to colouring the one the client likes the most.

When it comes to my pieces, I’m currently working around the theme of ‘taking up space’ which I think is important for a woman, so I use sports and dance as an inspiration and fill as much of a canvas as possible. I’m trying to work on bigger and bigger pieces and I’ve just got a studio space where I can create at scale and I can’t wait to get working on them.

Where do you look for inspiration?

My work is hugely inspired by women and individuals who are competing at the highest level of sport, whether that is football, skiing, snowboarding or dancing. Most of my work features people, doing the things they enjoy/we all enjoy, interacting with other people, and socialising so that’s mostly where my inspiration comes from.

I’ve also had a condition that impacts my voice since I was a child which has given me a need to give others a voice through my work. I try to include as many different people as possible, in expected and unexpected situations.

What are you reading of listening to right now?

I just finished Lessons in Chemistry and now The Secret Midwife. Love listening to Lucy Rose, particularly her new album and Jungle.

What does your typical day involve?

I’ve got small children so I send the eldest off to preschool while my husband (if he isn’t working as a cinematographer) looks after the baby so I can head to the studio.

I like working at the studio on personal work so I’ll get a couple of hours of painting done but if my husband is working, I crack on with work while the baby sleeps. It’s exhausting at the moment but it means we get lots of time as a family!

What has been your favourite project to date and why?

It’s got to be the limited edition packaging for Neutrogena, there was a mini-documentary created too which expressed exactly what I wanted to do with it so the whole video team did an incredible job. It was quite a tight turnaround and the colour palette was very limited to the existing branding which was a challenge. I think I had 2/3 other colours to play with, and skin tones were one of them but the end result still came out so lovely!

How do you switch off?

Either walk in nature or, when I can, I ski. I’ve skied regularly since I was a kid and, without fail, it resets me. I’m not sure if it’s the freedom or the exercise but it’s my favourite thing to do outside of illustration!

Who inspires you?

My family! They’re the reason I keep going!


A big thank you to Rachael Presky for contributing to our series of creative conversations with industry experts.

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