We had the good fortune of connecting with Rachel Jablonski and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Rachel, what do you attribute your success to?
Tenacity. Hard work. Not having an ego. Being able to take criticism. Resilience. It took me a loooong long time to build these things and realize that they are important, and I still don’t think I’ve fully grasped them, but I am grateful that at least now I know that these things are extremely important. I also don’t necessarily think I have gotten to the level of success that I want to get to, but who has besides a select few? Having something to work towards, however, is absolutely wonderful and something to think about. Because if you’re not working towards something you’re not living (in my opinion).

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
It has been a long, windy ride. For me, success was always being able to support myself with art, and that has definitely not always been the case. When I graduated from art school, I was getting some success as a freelance editorial illustrator with the help of one of my professors from school. I took that path right out of school because that was what was paying at the time, but I eventually realized that editorial illustration and promoting myself in that arena was very difficult to sustain. Part of the job (and this was before social media was really a thing) was sending out mailers/emailing art directors of magazines, entering art competitions, and promoting myself in any way possible, which was a job in itself and against my nature. Most of my life was taken over by work and trying to get my name out there (again, before Instagram had really taken off). I started to try to think of other avenues that I could make money off my work. That’s when I began to make prints, cards, stickers etc. to sell at craft fairs and online as another form of income. I got a studio with some friends as well in an art gallery in Denver where I could sell my art on First Fridays (an event every first Friday of the month where galleries open their doors to the public and artists can sell their work directly to people walking in). Both of these things were an excellent way to interact with the public and be part of a community in my city, which I loved. Around this time as well, I was hired by Great Divide Brewery to be part of their Denver Pale Ale Artist Series and create a design for one of their cans that would be distributed nationwide for a year. Part of the deal was also designing posters, t-shirts, pins, as well as selling prints in their taproom. It was the biggest commission I had gotten, and got me some wider recognition. I felt very loved by the city I called home. Local commissions, combined with craft fairs and gallery shows were what made me feel extremely grounded in my community and feel like I was doing something worthwhile. That all changed however and unfortunately, with the arrival of Covid. The gallery where I had my studio had shut down right before the pandemic started, craft fares weren’t happening, and it was very hard in general to get any work where I was interacting with the community. As things have slowly opened up, I have really begun to cherish the things that I missed so much during the pandemic, like art shows and being able to hand my work to someone in person. These days I mostly work freelance and with ad agencies, but being part of the art community in my city will always have my heart, and the most worthwhile pursuit I have experienced. Money is obviously wonderful, but connecting with people through your passion and having people really get what you’re doing is something that you feel in your soul.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would start by day drinking at several breweries in Denver- mostly around the Rino area, Ratio, OMF Brewery, and maybe head over to C squared ciders for some cider and giant lawn games in their basement. Then I would head to the Highlands to eat at either: Señor Bear, El Five (for the insane view of the city), Uncle (if it’s a cold night) or Root Down. We would then go check out First Friday on Santa Fe for some amazing people watching, street performers, and local art. Then maybe see a show by one of my favorite bands at a small intimate venue, like the Bluebird theater (my personal favorite) or Globe Hall. Mornings are for boozy brunch at City O City or Syrup. Lazy park day at Cheesman or City Park. More eating near City Park at Ace Eat and Serve, or Dos Santos or Hamburger Mary’s. Then dance the night away at Tracks or Charlie’s, both amazing gay clubs with the best music.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
As cliche as it is, my Mom. But that’s the one person that has gotten me through every doubt I’ve ever had regarding my career, and more than anyone else. I think it’s insanely important to have someone that’s rooting for you no matter what when pursuing a creative career. Creative careers are extremely difficult to navigate, and it’s so easy to doubt your abilities and talent, it is supremely valuable to have someone tell you it’s worth it at the end of the day. I don’t know how I would have done any of it if it weren’t for the wonderful encouragement and praise (even if sometimes it was underserved, you know how parents get) from my Mom. I would have quit long ago if it weren’t for her.

Website: http://www.racheljablonski.com

Instagram: @rjablonskiart

Image Credits
Copyright Rachel Jablonski, 2021

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