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Welcome to rachelsays... The blog of Rachel Lewis, containing my thoughts and musings on illustration, design, fashion, music, cakey-bakey goodness, culture and things that I generally find cool. There's also a good chance my own illustration work will pop up on here.

All work on this blog is copyright to me unless I state that it isn't. Obviously. Don't do stealing, kids.

So come on in, have a look around, and leave a comment if you like what you see.
contact [at]

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The end is nigh: Time to move people...

And so, after just over 3 years, university, life dramas, and all manner of things, this blog comes to an end. Ahhh.

'Oh em gee!' I hear you cry. 'What will I do without it?'

Well don't worry. It's only moving :)

As I have mentioned a few times before, I have moved this blog over to my website, so my blog and portfolio can sit side by side like the good friends they are. If you're reading this in an RSS feed, that means you were nice enough to subscribe the first time round. And so I thank you, and hope you have enough energy in you to subscribe to my new blog address, simply by clicking here.

If you still like to hear about my illustration adventures, thoughts on advertising, design, fashion, culture, music and other bits, then please do subscribe again; I really love having you around. If you don't care anymore then... well. See you around.

Don't forget I'm also on twitter @rachillustrates.

That's all folks! *violins, exit music, woman with handkerchief*

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

ActionAid targets ASDA in secret message campaign

Just spotted this via @ActionaidUK's twitter feed and I love the concept. Guerilla marketing/advertising + charity campaigning = thumbs up in my book. If you follow Actionaid's campaigns and efforts then you'll know they're waging a bit of a war on Asda at the moment because of their alleged pay level for their foreign workers who make their clothing for George. "If ASDA paid just an extra 2p on a £4 t-shirt, it could mean the difference between poverty and a decent standard of living for the people who make clothes for ASDA George in India."

NOTICE: I have now moved this blog over to my website so this blog is now obsolete - click here to subscribe to my new blog and continue to get my amazing updates! You know you want to. It's way better. This post can be found here. 

Sounds pretty fair to me. The rise of cut price, bargain-tastic, too cheap to be true clothing in the last few years has summoned a kind of collective joy and simultaneous guilt in Britain. Think Primark, supermarket fashion - a dress for £9? Why the hell would you shop anywhere else? If you don't mind the quality and throw your clothes out every year, then it's amazing. But everyone who shops there (I hope anyway...) surely has that voice in the back of their head whispering 'cheap labour...' when they make their purchases. I certainly do. I use to shop ALL the time in George at Asda at uni, seeing as our halls were practically in the carpark and you couldn't beat it for student budget, but you do worry where exactly your money goes, or rather, how far it can stretch. That £4 t-shirt, after you've taken into account raw materials, distribution costs, any kind of profit, what are you left with for the people who actually make it? Not a lot it would seem, if 2p is the difference between poverty and stability. I wouldn't mind paying an extra 2p. Hell, I wouldn't mind paying an extra £2. I avoid Primark, George, etc etc whenever I can but I admit I still buy from there. If there was a guarantee the workers got paid enough to live on then I wouldn't feel so bad. Also when I get start getting paid more, i'll be able to afford to NOT shop in horrible, mass produced shops like that.

So ActionAid have summoned up this campaign and I wholeheartedly support it. Here's what they're doing to raise awareness:

"Campaigners from the charity ActionAid are slipping a secret message into thousands of items of clothing at ASDA stores around the country to highlight the company’s lamentable record on paying poverty wages to factory workers in developing countries.
The secret messages will be placed in clothes’ pockets and any customer who finds them will automatically receive an ActionAid t-shirt and entry into a prize draw to win fair trade food and clothing. They’ll also be invited to send a message to the head of ASDA to demand an improvement in workers' pay." Read more about ActionAid target Asda here.
Simple, brilliant. And I bet you it works. There's nothing better than putting on a jacket you haven't worn for months and finding a tenner in the pocket. This works on that ethos; consumers love finding stuff that seems like it's meant just for them, and also free. What's great is that they've thought this through; "The ActionAid secret messages are made from the same material as clothing labels, so they won’t run or damage clothes if the shopper doesn’t find the label and puts it through the wash." Aha. And I imagine they're not doing anything technically wrong that Asda could sue them for or whatever; so long as they don't ruin the garments, encourage theft, or spread lies about the brand (these seem pretty accurate to me) then I can't see any legal problems, really. I doubt Asda will be happy though! They'll probably get their minions/goblins* to ransack the pockets every morning. (*We used to call the Asda night shift workers such names as this as it always seemed a bit Harry-Potter esque when they'd quietly fill the shelves up at 3am, glaring at you. Usually because you were drunk and trying to figure out if cheesecake is a good idea after Oceana. Respect to the night shift workers. They must have hated us.)
An example of the label you'll find in the clothing.
"The campaign, which started 16th July, will take place in ASDA shops in most major cities including London, Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh. Campaigners will keep on placing the secret messages at ASDA stores every month until the company agrees to pay more to garment workers."
I'm going to go to the North Acton branch of Asda tomorrow lunch and see if they've hit that one. They should do, it's huuuuge. Well, good luck to them. I'll be boycotting George until things change.
I did an illustration for ActionAid about a year ago, click here to check it out, and what it was for.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The big website switch!

Wow. So, I’ve done it! Sort of. Things are in the mid-way between being terrible and being better. Remember I posted about wanting to switch my website and blog over to one place? Well here it is. It’s using a basic template at the moment; I will eventually make a custom one and it’ll be all spangly.
Things left to do are:
  • Try and reformat the fonts used; not loving these sans serif things. And also get rid of the black on the header! Ew.
  • Upload my entire portfolio. This will take a while. I’m trying to grapple with plugins etc to make it work.
  • Contact page, twitter plugins, all the rest. RSS feed. Automatic post to fb and twitter. Etc etc.

But I actually managed to make it work :D Yay me!
Until it's in its presentable state, I'll dual-post over here and over there. Eventually I'll let this blog die. Or do some kind of redirect thing. When I've figured out how to do RSS feeds for it over there I'll keep reminding you daily to resubscribe. But for the mean time, just sit back and watch it fail rise from the ashes.
So once it's presentable, I'll do a nice redesign, get my awesome tech friend to code it up, then I shall surely have a site worthy of awesome-ness.
Stay tuned! I need one of those 'men at work' signs. Hang on.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Audi AreA1 at Leicester Square: Thoughts

I saw this is the paper yesterday, intrigued me. Audi are showing off their new A1 range using a concept called 'AreA1', which will play host to all those who want to see the A1 and get close to the newest addition to the Audi range.

So far, so boring. I do like cars, me, but I've never really put Audi with excitement. Especially in my age group. Hence why they've come up with this idea. I'd imagine the conversation went like this:

"Hey, we really need to reach out to the arty, trendy, youth crowd, with our amazing and reasonably priced new A1 Audi"

"I've heard of art."

"I've heard of an artist. Let's get Damien Hirst to do a custom car. He is so underground."

"I concur."

And so they did just that. Audi have teamed up with Damien Hirst to produce a one-off painted car, which will be on display in "the heart of London’s bustling West End [sic] Leicester Square, and from the 14th to the 18th of July this iconic destination will have an iconic addition in its midsts – the new Audi A1."

Sounds interesting, they describe the process as "Using Hurst’s ‘spin painting’ technique each body panel was painstakingly removed from the car and placed on a spinning turntable where Hurst dripped brightly coloured paint from above. The body panels were then re-fitted to create a totally unique, road legal work of art."

Painstakingly removed? Don't they just have robots to do that? Hmmm.

My qualm isn't with the idea; it's fairly interesting to have an artist paint a car and have it on show in central London, even if it's been done before in various incarnations. Apparently it's recently been auctioned; one would assume/hope for charity but it doesn't mention which? I do however, think Audi have missed a trick here: Damien Hirst doesn't really need the publicity, it would have been so much nicer for an up and coming artist to have done this. That way it's a 2 way thing; Audi get their 'cool/trendy' publicity about their expensive car (I'm just jealous because I drive a Fiat 500) and the new artist gets lots of exposure. Damien Hirst is extremely obvious. Hey ho.

Having said this, the actual car looks good. Dripping paint is always a winner. The roof is where you can really see the spun paint - quite pretty really. And at least Audi are trying something new and engaging people in a way that isn't a well airbrushed tv advert - not many car companies step out into the ambient marketing area. And I shouldn't really pass judgement until I visit this strange 'AreA1' (which keeps reminding me of Area 51...heh...)

I guess I'm just cynical about big corporations trying to maximise publicity with crazy art/culture experiments. It's just too transparent to me. 

AreA1 is on until sunday so if you want to check it out in person, why not? I probably won't make it down; can't afford to come into London this weekend. If you like Audis, and you like Damien Hirst, well then, that's pretty amazing. Go go go.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Screw you, New Busy. I'm just tired.

I haven't blogged in weeks - this is very bad. It's not for lack of content - I've got 8 draft posts that are half finished! The past few weeks have been so busy and I just have not had time. That's bad I know. Lots of good things have been happening though, as well as work being ridiculously busy at the moment, and swanning off to various places every weekend for various things. That doesn't help. But hey, I like to have weekends!

Anyway, I was talking recently about how I want to move this blog over to my own domain name, and I've pretty much decided that I will do this. Hopefully this weekend if I get time. So even though I didn't mean to not post, maybe it's a good idea not to... then just wait until I move over and start again. I don't really know.

How do you people with full time jobs manage to also blog a lot too?? It baffles me. I think it's my commute though- if I lived in London I'd be home by 6.30 and maybe then I'd have the energy to write. At the moment all I want to do is eat and sleep.

I've also been ill for about a week and a half now and it seems to be getting worse :S right now I have no voice! Very annoying. But I read this post today by Ben Terrett over at Noisy Decent Graphics about 'Being Busy' (have been following the blog for years... you should too) and it's timing is very well placed.

Read the full post but it's summed up in 5 points:
1. Work when you work best
2. Healthy body, healthy mind
3. Don't do everything on your to do list
4. Ask for help
5. Little and often

It's extremely good advice and I really recommend you go and read it. I need to take heed. We covered all this stuff, and more, in the CSM Immersion course I attended, but it's so easy to slip back into 'crazy mode'.

I think the answer is a good ol' break; even though right now that's impossible. This weekend I plan to do nothing social at all (except when it precedes the word media) and sort out my illustration life; that is, email people, so some actual work, sort out my website, you know. I will feel a lot better when that side of me is organised. I struggle with this constant feel of unease when that side of me (illustration) isn't as organised and clear as I would like - afterall, my goal is to be freelance, yet I'm putting most of my energy into my current job. Which is fine. I have a career to forge after all, and I quite enjoy graphic design/having a 9 to 5, but I wish I could have more time on the stuff that I'm really passionate about. Sigh. All in good time and such. 

Anyway, the title of this post of course refers to Hotmail's New Busy campaign. I blame this 'new busy' way of thinking for pushing most of us creative types to some kind of melt down. We are made to feel that we should always be on to the next big thing, finding out new stuff, being here, being there, being awesome. I can be pretty good at that, but not all the damn time. Sometimes I need a sofa day watching Twilight (of course), without the nagging guilt of 'you should be blogging/drawing/updating portfolio/networking/running around in circles'.

Well, I'm trying new busy, and although I'm having a great time, I'm so tired. And I'm neglecting important things that need to be done. So I'm going anti new busy for a while. Hotmail? More like Hotfail. Pass the duvet.

Monday, June 21, 2010

New Work! Recipe Illustrations for Cleo Magazine Australia

This is awesomely exciting: I was contacted recently by the lovely people at Cleo Magazine, in Australia, who really like my recipe illustrations and wanted me to produce some more for a feature in the September issue! Amazing!

So I allowed them to reproduce two of my old ones, and did two new ones for them as well, which I want to post up here:

This recipe is one from my mum - she always makes this at BBQs and get-togethers etc and it's so amazing (as the title suggests), and pretty easy too. The feta and the capers make it stand out against shop-bought couscous, it's perfect for summer days!

 I've made this a few times and it is easy - the ready made cake mix is a bit of a cheat so sometimes I do make it from scratch. Using the orange juice instead of water is genius and they taste amazing - especially the next day when the orange zest has had time to sink into the icing and give it flavour.
 Nom nom nom.

So these illustrations will be in the September issue of Cleo, out in August. If (like me) you don't live in Australia then you won't be able to get your hands on a copy, but I have some friends in Oz who hopefully can send me it!

This is the first time my work has been published onto actual physical paper so I'm really happy. It's just on an exposure basis but who knows what could come from this? Good times! Thanks Australia, very random but cool!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Rachel's Big Website/Wordpress Debate: To switch or not to switch?

This is going to a long-ish post so I apologise. It's one of my rare 'thoughts spilling out' posts but I'll try to keep it interesting. If you'd rather have pretty pictures then.... come back tomorrow.

I recently started subscribing to David Airey's brilliant blog and came across this article: Seven blog mistakes to avoid. I thoroughly recommend you go and read it (the whole blog, if you have hours to spare, or just that article) because it's great. And so useful if you write your own blog. It's started me thinking about this blog, and my website too, and now I have a big conundrum that I need your input on.

His first mistake in the article is 'not using a self-hosted blog.' Oops. I fail at the first hurdle. I've known for a while the benefits of hosting your own blog (you will actually own your content) and yet I still use blogger. Ol, faithful, annoying, uninspiring blogger. Why? Because it's safe. It works. And I'm terrified of moving! I wish I had started using wordpress, but I started this blog in 2007 and it was meant to just be a 'this is my work' blog. Obviously, it's a whole lot more now.

I own my own website - and yet most of my hits come to this blog, not my website. Here are the pitiful stats: my website (which is basically just a static portfolio which gets updated say, once a month) gets about 6 hits a day, this blog gets about 40. Sometimes a lot more. Basically though, both are really bad. You do the maths! Surely it makes way more sense to host my blog on the same domain as my portfolio? My blog will do the work, being constantly updated with fresh content, and my portfolio will benefit from all the added exposure. At the moment, you have to click on a button over there ----> which takes you to my website; which at the moment is an external link. I've tried to link the two a bit more (the title of this blog is now rachelsays...) but this blog is still hosted at, which is a mouthful and nothing to do with my website. And I'm paying for my spangly domain name. Why not use it as much as I can?

Mistake #4 from David Airey's post sums this up quite well: "When I launched my first website about two years ago, I wanted my portfolio to be its primary purpose, and the blog a secondary aspect. Then last year I discovered blogs. It didn’t take long to realise the number of clients I could attract first through my blog content, and then directing them to my portfolio. It’s generally the content I publish that attracts visitors, rather than the work in my ."

Which is exactly what I should be doing. I write about good stuff. I'm pretty cool, people subscribe to what I say here, they're vaguely interested in my point of view. So I'm missing a huge opportunity in that my work is not easily accessible right from here. And that also, this is clearly a blogger template. E v e r y o n e  uses this one because it's the least offensive. But it doesn't stand out! I'm a pretty unique girl, and this blog says 'hey, I use blogspot, cos I don't know nuffin about the mintynet' which isn't true.

So... the obvious answer here, is switch to wordpress (and I mean .org, not .com... download the template and install it in the root directory of my site). Move the whole shabang over to, start again. Stop using indexhibit (it's great, but quite restrictive) and get a custom/nicer wordpress template over there. Make the blog content the primary landing page, and then all my portfolio work as a secondary, but still lovingly presented and relevant.

Sounds great! Except.....

1) I would lose all my SEO and links and everything. I would probably still keep this blog running but everything would die. I'd probably have to rebuild my subscribers again and I'd really miss you all if you didn't follow me over.
2) I know a teeny bit of html but no way could I deal with a custom wordpress thing, with code and all that. I could install it in my root directory, I'd get that far, then I'd have no idea.
3) This all sounds like it's going to take more than a sunday afternoon. I work full time. Help will be needed, help which I can't afford.
4) I'm scared of messing with things in case it all goes tits up.

So, I don't really know. I want to change things up, but I just really don't know where to start. There's a few peeps on my twittersphere who could probably give me advice but generally, I'd have to muddle my own way through. Argh. All I know is that the way things are is not really helping: I'm paying for a domain name which is getting less hits than my free blogspot page. And blogspot isn't really that cool.

Incidentally, my website is down right now and I have no idea why. Which is slightly worrying. I'm sure it's probably just godaddy being weird and it'll be back soon, but I don't like it. Make it come back!

What do you think, minions? Is it worth the hassle, to switch and be all spangly under one domain name, or just stick how I am and be all amateurish but safe. Your insights are very much welcomed, I am trés confused.