Artist Studio

Inside the Studio: Rachel Rush

The Game Changers. The Rule Breakers. The Innovators. Discover some of the fantastic emerging talent showcasing their work at The Other Art Fair.

New Zealand based artist Rachel Rush has two distinct styles of seeing the world. On the one hand, ‘Rachel Rush’ is an artist working in colours in movement overlayed with resin. But she also has the funky style of street art, working with graffiti, stencils and collages to create stand-out expressions of delight. This style is RUSH. RUSH has evolved from Rachel Rush’s love of all the amazing street art around the world – from the alleyways of Melbourne, the surviving slabs of the Berlin Wall, to the gritty streets of New York. 

How did you first get interested in your medium, and what draws you to it specifically?

For RUSH, Street art has always fascinated me, the layers that build up over time are just so interesting and inspiring – but also just as likely to completely disappear. Some of the artists are unbelievably talented, but have such a casual attitude about it all too – they are probably the opposite of a gallery darling and the entitlements that can come along with it. I love the power of the spray cans, they are very forgiving, as opposed to the patience required for oil paint for example. They are absolutely instant. The flat clean colours and finishes are unobtainable by brush, so I just love them.
Rachel Rush works – resin is really sticky and awkward and it pushes against you, but at the same time if gifts you with shadows and movement that are unexpected, so you just have to go with it in the moment. I love the intense colour and shine, and learning to manipulate it, and you just can’t get that colour pouring acrylic.

Can you walk us through your process? Do you begin with a sketch, or do you just jump in? How long do you spend on one work? How do you know when it is finished?

For both RR (Rachel Rush) and RUSH the process begins with me picking the right size blank canvas to suit the idea forming in my head. You get a kind of heat, or adrenaline when the idea is good, and if that excitement doesn’t fade I just jump in. I don’t sketch, but will try and pop a note to myself somewhere to try and keep myself on task. I pick a base colour of sorts to prep my canvas and get started. How long the piece takes depends on so much- some pieces are a complete arm-wrestle, they’ll fight you to the end to get into shape and I really have to challenge myself to get the story right, other pieces are a dream that just flow together. Once the work is finished, it feels like it physically releases you, almost like a push away and it just feels content. Others will wake you in the middle of the night to help sort out their issues.

‘Exactly, How are you’, Rachel Rush

If you couldn’t be an artist then what would you be? 

I might say a Vet?  I love animals and volunteered at the SPCA for 8 years in the ambulance bay when I was younger.  I absolutely loathe anything to do with numbers or science or timetables or calendars.

Any advice for younger artists at the start of their careers?

Be aware of any influences and inspirations trying to get your attention, and give it a go. So many people tell me they can’t draw or paint and when I ask if they’ve ever tried they usually say no.  Then stop looking at what other people are doing and get on with it. Being too influenced by another artist can make you feel trapped and inferior, so forget their journey and do yours. Be prepared to work bloody hard and get a lot of rejection and you really have to have a huge personal drive to keep pushing your boundaries.

Tell us something about yourself that might surprise people to hear. 

You already know the main one – when I turn up to spray a wall or talk about my RUSH work at a show, most people turn around and look for a young guy instead – they are very surprised to see that I’m the one behind the cans.  But you already know that, so…… The other thing that always throws people is that my day car is a 1965 Fastback Mustang.  I’ve had my current one for 10 years or more and it does the school runs, the after school sports and grocery shop – it is just the most outstanding machine!!

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