Today, Rachel Bright’s dreams of working as an illustrator and as a writer of children’s books has become a reality as her creative range of The Bright Side Stationery hits the market.
As a student, Rachel had taken a BA Honours in Graphic Design at Kingston University, before going to work for Royal stationers Smythson of Bond Street, London . Her hour and half commute gave her time to write ideas for her stories. “I knew at that stage that I wanted to write children’s books and I also knew I wanted to travel as I’d never taken a gap year, but I didn’t have the funds to take a year off.
“Then on the train journey one day, I saw an advert for Virgin Atlantic cabin crew and decided to apply. I later found out there were around 45,000 applicants every year.” Rachel was 23 when she became an air hostess at Virgin Atlantic, and flew full-time for a year before switching to part-time for six months following the 9/11 attacks.
“I jumped at the chance, and worked for a month on and a month off,” says Rachel. “But wherever I went I always had a sketchbook in my wheelie case, and I thought that going part-time would be a fantastic opportunity to do some illustrating and writing.”
She then began working as a designer for a children’s publishing company, and five years ago went to Bristol to do an MA in printmaking at the University of West England while working part-time as a copywriter for an advertising agency in Bristol.
She says: “I’d been planning to do an MA in illustration at Falmouth University, but I came to Bristol and loved it and instead enrolled for an MA in printmaking at UWE.
“I’ve always been really interested in typesetting, and UWE have this amazing room with drawers and drawers full of old lead typefaces. I was like a kid in a candy factory.”
It was while she was studying at UWE that Rachel came up with the first illustration for a card using the jumbled old-fashioned typeface that has become her trademark.
“The words were: ‘You Make My Heart Go Boom’,” she says.
“I love words. I started coming up with phrases that looked good in that typeface.” “I decided to be a bit more commercial and make a full-time living out of what I was doing,” she says.
Rachel was taken on by card publisher Really Good 18 months ago. Her ‘wordages’ have now appeared on card designs and a range of products has been launched in John Lewis and Paperchase.
In addition, the designs featuring quirky jumbled typeface for a range of cards has become so popular it can now be found on mugs to magnets, teapots to tea towels, posters to placemats and baby albums to kids books and is being sold internationally.
“I’ve done over 100 cards for them, and 22 product lines are now in production. “I have my own font called ‘Bright’, so it can be used on computers instead of having to be created again each time. I’m using modern technology to produce an old-fashioned style of typeface, as I have to use a Mac computer to colour in the type.”
Rachel’s ambition to publish a children’s book was realised after her work was spotted at an art exhibition at Circomedia in Bristol by one of editors at Puffin Books.
Her debut picture book What Does Daddy Do? was published recently, and her second book will be published in 2010 under a two-book deal.
“It’s just gone crazy in the past 12 months,” says Rachel, 32. “I have to keep pinching myself to believe it’s real. I’m also having to try not to be too much of a workaholic, or I’ll end up working until 2am.”
The one thing that ties her whole eclectic collection together is optimism. “It’s at the heart of everything I do”.
This article has been written by Tracey Allen at www.rusticangels.co.uk. The home of shabby chic, vintage and retro gifts and accessories and proud purveyors of The Bright Side!