At The Royal Mint, craftsmanship can be found at every level of all we produce, from the coins we strike to the special touches that make each product’s packaging a pleasure to open, and our Baby Gift Collection is no exception. We caught up with Rachel Sulek, the illustrator behind the designs for our newborn and christening gifts, to find out more.
How did you become an illustrator?
“I have always loved illustration and it’s just something that I have always done. It’s not work, it’s a passion, and it’s something I also do for relaxation – it is my way of telling a story, of conveying ideas that are hard to express in words. It can improve and enhance a piece of writing and bring a story to life, opening your imagination and your mind to create new worlds.
“Like most children, I loved drawing when I was young but as I grew older this didn’t change for me and I was never happier than when I was either drawing or creating and even attended art classes on the weekend to develop my skills. As I grew older, my ambition was to become an artist of some kind and my interest in all forms of art deepened. After finishing school, I completed a degree in Graphic Communication at the University of Glamorgan and began my career by designing websites.
“In the past couple of years, I’ve started becoming more and more interested in illustration and, in January 2021, decided to start a Masters in illustration parttime at Falmouth University to develop my skills in that area.”
How did you create the designs for the baby collection?
“My preferred way of working is with my iPad and Apple Pencil. After this stage, I put the sketches into Adobe Fresco (a digital drawing and painting app) to refine them, as well as decide on the line weight and style.
“For the baby illustrations, I was given The Queen’s Beasts as a starting point for the animal characters. These ‘beasts’ were inspired by ten statues that formed a symbolic guard at the coronation of Her Majesty The Queen, representing her heritage.
“I love drawing animals and children’s characters, so this was an ideal brief for me. I chose four of the animals to illustrate – the lion, the greyhound, the unicorn and the falcon – and started sketching them in different poses to help decide on a layout where they could work together as a group but also individually.
“I drew each of the animals being careful to use colours that fit with The Royal Mint’s brand and products. I kept a fun and childlike style with simple shapes, keeping some of the wobbly lines to retain that hand-drawn style. I added little details like party hats, balloons and stars for the celebratory theme.”
How do you feel about the finished range?
“This is the first project I’ve worked on for The Royal Mint and I was excited to be involved. I’m really happy with the finished pieces and was delighted when the feedback for my designs was positive. I feel proud and privileged to have my illustrations featured by The Royal Mint and hope they’ll be enjoyed by lots of families.”