Illustrator Spotlight: Rachel Katsaller

© Rachel Katsaller

Nov. 1, 2019

Today we are excited to feature illustrator Rachel Katsaller and her debut picture book, ADA AND THE NUMBER CRUNCHING MACHINE, by Zöe Tucker (North South Books Sept. 2019). Enter to win a copy!

Tell us about yourself and how you came to illustrate for children.

Hi there! My name is Rachel and I was born in a small tropical country in Central America, but moved to the Austrian Alps three years ago. Ever since I can remember I loved drawing and making up stories, but I never considered pursuing illustration as a career until after graduating with a Bachelor in Strategic Design. I attended the Summer Residency in Illustration at the School of Visual Arts in New York and decided to pursue illustration on a professional level. Ada is the very first book deal that I signed after making this life changing decision. 

© Rachel Katsaller

Congrats on your recent picture book, ADA AND THE NUMBER CRUNCHING MACHINE. Tell us about the story and what kind of research did you do to illustrate it?

Thank you very much, I’m very happy with how the book turned out. The story looked quite differently in its first drafts, so the images changed quite a bit as Zoës story evolved. I read as many books as I could find on Ada and did visual research on Victorian architecture and fashion. Luckily I also had the chance to visit London and the UK twice as I was working on the story, and even saw a model of Number Crunching Machine!

© Rachel Katsaller

You also have your own apparel brand, Las Furias. Do you find that your design/apparel work influences your illustrations, or vice versa?

Although it’s quite a small side business for me, my brand is the chance for me to become my own client. I get to produce the sort of things I’d love to find in shops. My influences and inspiration stem from a very different place than my children’s book work and I love how this creates a balance in my practice. It’s never quite separate, since it’s always my own body of work, but it adds a distinctive flavor.

© Rachel Katsaller

What projects are you working on now?

I’m currently working on several new book stories, developing a new line for Las Furias and getting a certificate as an official skateboarding instructor, which I’m quite excited about!

© Alyssa Sinnen

What is your preferred medium and illustration process?

In all honesty, I wouldn’t be able to say that I have one unique medium I love to work with the most. It all depends on the effect and what I would like to get across to the audience. If I’m away from my studio then I love working on my iPad, if I know I have enough time to play and explore, I love using oil painting or gouache and colored pencils. My favorite approach to work though is deciding on a color scheme and letting the colors dictate what I will be drawing. 

© Rachel Katsaller

What are the one or two things you did that most advanced your illustration career? Is this advice you would give to others?

When I started, I knew it would take time and effort to get myself known and find my first clients. But I also knew that for this to happen I needed to have a consistent body of work and keep producing the sort of projects I would like to get hired to do. So my advice to others would be to stick to a schedule and produce the things you’d like to get hired to do! 

© Rachel Katsaller
What is one thing most people don't know about you?

I love working in silence or while listening to an audiobook. Which means, I very rarely listen to music!

Where can people find you online?

I have a website that I update as often as possible as well as my online skate related shop. For day to day things you can find more on my Instagram!

Rachel Katstaller is originally from tiny tropical El Salvador, where she studied Strategic Design.

After a period in New York, where she attended the Summer Residency in Illustration at the School of Visual Arts, Rachel relocated to the Alps together with her cat Hemingway. 

Rachel now works for several international publishing houses concentrating on children’s books, editorial illustration and creating vibrant and unique illustrations for brands. She also has her own apparel brand, Las Furias where she channels her passion for skateboarding.

Hemingway still remains skeptical about the cold weather and lack of palm trees to climb.

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  1. These illustrations are really lively and well-done!

  2. Clever illustrations for this book. Love the graph paper dress! Congrats!

  3. It looks like an amazing book, can't wait to read it.Lovely illustrations!


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