Guest post: The Animals Of


She's the one to watch when it comes to greeting cards, stationery - and in the near future homewares - and the story behind creator of The Animals Of, Rachel Lee, is one that is full of inspiration and a little magic

You launched The Animals Of in 2014 – why? And how did you come up with the name?

The Animals Of was born from the work I completed studying for my Masters in Manchester. I had spent a long time developing my own style of illustration. I created a story book called ‘The Animals Of Eldritch’ which was about a sinister world called Eldritch filled with animals. When I had finished my Masters I wanted to get out there selling my own work. I am blessed to have a studio in South Norfolk. I started going into my studio and designing with those illustrations from my Masters. Turning the animal illustrations into commercial designs.

I fell in love with The Animals Of as a name. It was a quirky like my animal illustrations and it just stuck. I love being at a market and customers see me and say “You’re The Animals Of!”


Your cards are stocked here at Jarrold, which is great, especially as you work here on fashion accessories – how did this come about?

I am great friends with the fantastic team that work on retail stationary - I first started at Jarrolds as a Christmas temp. A couple of months after leaving the department for fashion accessories the team took my cards to their buyer to see if they were a good fit for Jarrold. They were and I was thrilled! It has been the biggest boost for my business and it still makes me giddy to see them on display when I walk through.  I am also lucky that David over at the Forum shop also took a chance with my cards, and retail stationary also stock notebooks, but not my homewares…yet!


On your website you say that your biggest passion when it comes to designing is to build layers of magical colours and textures to try to evoke feelings of the Northern Lights and starry skies – why?

I started my creative career designing for fabrics and wallpaper. I was using digital print as my method of production and I wanted to fully exploit it’s capabilities. Digital print means you can use 1000’s of colours in one design. So by working with colour, texture and photography I could create really unusual designs that were jam packed with detail and colour. I didn’t want my designs to end up being brash and in your face so I used this technique to recreate a sense of whimsy, using starry skies and the aurora borealis as my inspiration.

Of course starry skies aren’t appropriate for some of my more exotic animals so here I look at ripples in water, mountains or trees. To try evoke the same sense of magic.


Obviously you love drawing animals! But why did you start drawing animals – and how have you adapted your illustrations to cards, gifts and homewares?

I was never interested in drawing flowers or people. I started drawing taxidermy animals from museum collections, animals at the Zoo, peoples pets and from photographs. I just loved the personality of an animal and the different challenges of recreating fur or feathers. Once I found my unique way of drawing animals I never even considered drawing anything else!


What is the process of creating illustrations for cards and gifts/homeware?

I either get a hankering to draw a certain animal or I get requests from customers and even some times Jarrold. (My incredibly popular Hare illustration wouldn’t exist with out a request from retail stationary).

I start by taking lots of photographs of florals or trees and creating some watercolour paintings. I then use the paintings and photography to start digitally creating the illustrations. If you look closely at some of the animals you can see the original paint strokes or the petals of a flower creating the body of an animals.

I use a cool graphics tablet and pen that allow me to draw and paint fluidly, straight onto imagine editing software on my computer. Along with my camera it is my most treasured tool.

I always start everything as a greeting card design working to a square format. When I decide to take it into other products I start playing with scale and repeats. 


How often do you launch new designs?

The great thing about greeting cards is I can constantly create new cards and test them out. If they sell well and people like them then I add the card to my permanent collection and then start thinking about how I can adapt the illustration for other products.


Have you recently launched new designs?

I have just sent a whole new collection to the printers. Its a six card collection of different household pets. They are very different in style to the rest of my cards, so I am excited to see how they are received!

The Animals Of cards and notebooks are available from retail stationery on the ground floor

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