Rachel Urquhart (or @RaychPonyGold, as she’s known by Instagram) was a journo by trade, until her illustrating antics got the better of her. “As much as I love writing, it never riveted and consumed me the way design and illustration does,” says the New South Wales north coast native, who now resides in Melbourne with her partner and a pooch called Humble Bean.
“I had a sense that if I didn’t go out and try now, there was a risk of growing old haunted by what-ifs and coulda-beens.” These days she entertains her every wild whim across page after page (this month, we’ve even let her loose on ours), designing for the likes of Volcom, Rebello Wines, Wandering Coyote boots and US label Wild and Free Jewelry. What say we stickybeak into this creative’s lair? (Just mind the urchin collection).
What pushed you to change paths?
About mid-way through 2014, I was really struggling to balance fulltime journalism with my illustration commitments: I was burnt out, getting sick all the time, neglecting my relationships (and my dog!), and not creating my best work on either side… So I applied to a short design course, and was offered a part-scholarship to Shillington college. It honestly felt like I was being shoved toward this change, no matter how hesitant I felt.
How do you approach a blank page?
Starting with big, crazy shapes – the bones of the thing – is always a good way. Just getting something down and breaking the ice. The natural world is definitely the strongest influence on my work, as well as literature, other creatives like photographers and musicians, and just the aspects of life that combine some of the dark realities with the bright magic – the things that fill us with wonder and awe and fear and excitement.
Tell us about your workspace…
On my computer desk right now: a crab shell and bowl of urchins from our last road trip, a bottle of rosé that has a nice label, a stack of picture books on Australia, my parents’ photo albums from the ’70s, kangaroo jaw bones, banksia pods and eucalyptus branches, feathers, Polaroids, a bowl of broken jewellery… I work best in the early morning, surrounded by all these things and usually with some kind of inane TV show running in the background.
If money was no object, what would you create?
Jewellery, for sure. Or giant surreal botanical sculptures, but I feel like that’s something to keep up my sleeve for when I’m an eccentric old lady.