Magick Maker Q&A: Illustrator Rachel M. Esposito

At Bitchcraft Fair Columbus in 2018 & 2019, we had the privilege of Rachel M. Esposito joining our coven of creatrixes. We’re excited to get to know her in depth, so first, an introduction:

“Hello, my name is Rachel M. Esposito I’m an illustrator located in Columbus Ohio, and am inspired by all that is fairytale, fantastical, macabre and feminine. I work primarily in ink and watercolor with exception to my Creature Libation series where I color digitally to better convey my love of mixology and monsters.”

When did you begin to step into your power as a creative?

For me, the creativity was always there, it was never something that just appeared one day. As a kid I was always laying on the kitchen floor surrounded by colored pencils, crayons, markers and coloring books. The interest and drive was always there, and I was lucky enough to have a parent that saw this and allowed me to pursue it and cultivate it with outside classes.”

In monetizing your illustration, what are some fears you face, and what steps do you take to overcome them?

I would say the most obvious fear is failure! No one wants to think something they love and made with care will be received negatively and left abandoned in your closet or inventory. At the end of the day though you have to make peace with the fact that what you make will never appeal to everyone. I have learned that the things you don’t expect, are often the ones that people love and spend their money on the most. And you shouldn’t fight that! Learn from it.

Another fear when it comes to monetizing is putting in more than what you might get out. It’s a scary thing to spend hundreds of dollars on art prints, paying for booth fees or designing an enamel pin and not being able to simply break even from your sales. In my opinion this is a risk you have to take if you want to pursue your work more professionally.

Once more, you have to learn from it and figure out how to avoid it if not navigate it. I would say the most important thing I’ve learned as a predominately visual artist, is to make your work accessible to all incomes. Not everyone can afford to hang an original painting in their home, but a lot of people will happily purchase a handful of stickers to put on their notebook. Those small purchases add up, and on more than one occasion have saved me from loosing money in shows.”

© Rachel M. Esposito

How does your artistic style reflect your personality?

I would say my subject matter reflects the bulk of my personality. I enjoy many things, botanicals, feminine figures and portraits, slightly spooky or macabre imagery, fairytales and fantasy, even my love of mixology has made it’s way into my work. I’ve always been a slight oddball and enjoyed the more strange things in this world, so I like to make more strange and beautiful things to join me.”

Which mediums do you work with, and why do you feel you connect with them?

For the past five years I’ve worked predominately in ink and watercolor. It was never the medium I expected myself to be drawn to. I was more interested in acrylics and oil paints for the bulk of my schooling years.

I had a teacher my Senior year of College who had us do research on the artists we were inspired by. This research resulted in the bulk of my inspirations being heavily line based with ink or print making and often colored with watercolor or by digital means. It was a wake up call, so I started focusing on that medium more and I’ve grown with it.

The only exception to my strict use of traditional mediums in the last two years is my Creature Libation series. Where I still hand draw my line work with ink, but color in photoshop.”

How do you quickly recover when you face creative burnout?

I often don’t recover “quickly” or at least as quickly as I’d like. I take on burnout like a battery. I need to charge, I often do this by putting aside my visual work and focus on something else. I enjoy baking, I like crocheting blankets, I always get lost in movies or documentaries. I find a new reason to get myself back into painting or drawing through those other creative means.

If this isn’t working though -because sometimes it flat out doesn’t and that’s okay! I just have to let myself take that break I need. If it takes a day or a week I think it’s very important to be kind to yourself. It’s something I’m still learning to do, but stressing yourself into making new work only creates sub par work.”

© Rachel M. Esposito

In what ways do you think magick and creativity are similar?

I believe that these two are similar because the concept of Magick to me-is having something occur that another otherwise couldn’t fathom, explain or understand. Creativity is similar to this, and also highly subjective.

My brain is never going to operate like that of a jewelry maker, potter, or tarot reader. So there’s this mysticism behind artists and “How they do it” just like a Magick maker.

However in saying this, I also feel the outside view on both creatives and Magick is also very similar. Many outside eyes see it as if we’re drawing these things from a vast ocean of concept and thoughts and making them appear before everyones eyes with ease. When in reality, it’s hard work.

It’s hours of honing your skills, it’s years of self discipline and practice. We’re not drawing from an ocean we found, but from a well we’ve dug with our hands. And we only get one bucket full at a time.”

Help get us in the spirit of Halloween and tell us your favorite ghost story.

I have many favorite ghost stories or tales. There was a time I lived near the old sight of the Gore Orphanage which is a popular urban legend in Northern Ohio. But that’s a tale everyone has heard-or at least should hear. Instead, how about we get a little more personal?

Odd things tend to run in families. Mine is no exception, particularly on my Dads side.
There are a handful of stories. The man dressed all in red under the light post, the taps on the doors at night, the girl in the picture that moved after she died, the strange shape of light in the sky. Even in recent times, years after the death of my Grandpa, my uncle and his family have heard doors shut in my grandparents home. My Grandma has come home to see candle sticks knocked over that were otherwise always rigidly in place.

I have a story too. And I didn’t know I shared it with my Dad until a few years ago.
When I was a kid we would all play in the basement, now it was by no means a creepy
looking basement. It was finished, it was comfortable and it was suitable for kids to play in and watch movies. About half of the basement was my Dads workshop.

He has been, and continues to be a very handy man with his home improvement projects. We as kids would occasionally go into his workshop, but usually just to see what Dad was doing, or maybe in the winter to get kindling for a fire. I couldn’t tell you why. But sometimes I would just go in there, put on my dads work shoes-to avoid stepping on nails-and walk around.

© Rachel M. Esposito

I can’t remember the day, I can’t remember the time. I can remember going in there, I
can remember putting on my Dads shoes, and I can remember seeing a little girl with dark hair standing in the corner. At first I just wait for the motion censor light to go on and expect it to be a trick of the light. It wasn’t. There was a girl there in the corner, and then there wasn’t.

I’ve kept that memory to myself, if anything I’ve buried it very well so I wouldn’t always be scared of the basement. Perhaps that buried memory is what started my fascination with the “Darker” things in life. Either way, I never told anyone. I didn’t want to tell anyone.

Roughly 18 years later, my older sister called me just to catch up, nothing unusual
about that. Eventually in the conversation she asked about the basement.

‘Did you ever notice anything weird about it?’ she asked.

‘Well yeah, there were things there.’ I said, being casual about it. This seemed to fuel my sister, and she pressed me a little more, asking what I meant.

‘What kind of things?’

‘I just saw some things is all.’

Again, she pressed me for details until I admitted: ‘I saw a frickin’ kid down there.’

At this point my older sister said in a rather alarmed manner that she’d call me right back.

When she did call me back maybe a minute later, she had my Dad on the line and told
me to repeat what I said.

‘You know where you put your drill press in the basement?’ I asked him, as the drill press came many years after my sighting. ‘I saw a little girl standing there before you had it. Like when we were little.’

My Dads reply? ‘Wow.’ Apparently, while talking to my older sister that day, my Dad told her about how for a few days, this little girl showed up in his workshop. My Dad didn’t say or do anything either, he just went on with his work. It took the bulk of my lifetime to have the realization of this not being a self made story that I projected into existence. There was a little girl in our basement, at least for a few days, she was down there.

This story isn’t grand. We didn’t talk to a ghost. We weren’t living in a haunted house. We never saw that girl again. But it did happen. Odd things tend to run in families, and sometimes, we still hear taps in the night and see things out of the corner of our eyes.”

Want to see more?

There’s enough art to browse for all three of your eyes! Follow Rachel’s socials & visit her website to purchase some pieces, and adorn your barren walls with her work to inspire & fascinate all year round.

Instagram: @toxicroma 

In what ways do you contribute to the magickal community & collective at large? Are you a gifted medium? Do you bottle herbs? No gift too grandiose and no talent is too meek, we are so excited to meet you! Taking a moment to share about your personal power & passion is a great opportunity to use our Bitchcraft Fair audience to bolster your own socials/website/platform.

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