Sign Painter & Hand Lettering Artist

I wish I had a routine...but not really. Some days I'll be out painting signs on location or get to do small commissioned ones in my studio, other days I'm painting with my friend, hunting for signage and lettering inspiration, and practicing! 

WHAT SHE DOES FOR LOVE: I am a crafter, first and foremost. I've always been good at making things with my hands. My mom taught me how to sew and build anything out of fabric and string and my dad taught me how to build things, use power tools, and be a perfectionist. The latter sure comes in handy for painting straight lines! If I'm not painting, I'm making jewelry, hair accessories, sewing and doing fiber arts.

Besides crafts, I love to watch old scary shows like Alfred Hitchcock and the Twilight Zone, collect Mexican artwork and mid-century tchotchkes, search for the best vegetarian food in New York, walk to the park near our house for the best view of Manhattan and DIY-ing most things in my life. 

A LADY SHE ADMIRES: A huge shout out to Michelle Bablo. She inspired me to start my own business and has been an example for the, "Yes, you can totally do it" mentality that I strive for. Besides inspiring me and her team of assistants to make special things, she has helped me with the myriad of small business questions and concerns I've been facing this last year! 

HER 2016 GOALS: Professionally: to grow my business, of course, do more projects and generally just get better at painting letters!

Personally: to minimize the things in our lives and making our footprint smaller. Trying to throw away less trash is our biggest project so far - buying in bulk, buying less things in containers, making things instead of buying them in packaging (making my own cashew milk is my favorite!), composting, and not taking plastic bags! My god, the plastic bags.


NOMINATED BY: David Williams

WHY SHE’S A LADY GUN: "My lady Rachel has been killing it since she went freelance doing sign painting. The sign painting world is predominantly made up of men, but catch Rachel painting huge signs and store front windows for bars, cafes, delis, hotels, etc."


HER INITIAL REACTION TO HER LADY GUNS NOMINATION: Very surprised and honored! My life is so all over the place and every single day is so different that sometimes I forget that people actually notice what I am doing, and like it! The fact that I'm working gets lost in the randomness of my schedule, but mostly because I'm having a blast doing it!

HER STYLE + BEAUTY: Feeling powerful and having a presence is a beauty aspect that is very important to me. I'm a little lady (4'11") and I love anything that makes me feel big, bold and feminine all at once. All of my vintage pieces are very special to me - they all fit my petite frame perfectly. I honestly have never been one to follow the crowd fashion wise. I find that things that are "in" just usually aren't my style. It's so boring when everyone is wearing the same silhouettes and accessories! I do love a good oversized floppy sweater and some leggings (who doesn't?), but I have never felt especially cute or feminine in short shorts or anything you can see through. 

As far as products, Kat Von D Studded Kiss Lipstick is my go to. The colors are bold and saturated, stay FOREVER and all her makeup is vegan and cruelty free! Demeter Fragrance Library's Funeral Home (nostalgic church smell, no joke). Guilty pleasure: Lip Smackers Dr. Pepper chapstick

Photo: David Williams
Photo: David Williams

RECOMMENDATIONS IN HER CITY: 

Koneko Cat Cafe in the Lower East Side. The owners are so amazing and they are doing really great things for cats who need homes! 

Superiority Burger in the East Village. The owner and chef Brooks Headley is a crazy genius and constantly surprises. He is carving out a really cool path for gourmet vegetarian and vegan food, proving that it's not all cardboard and lettuce. 

Fuego 718 in Williamsburg. The owner is the nicest man on the whole planet, hands down. He's always excited to talk to everyone - something pretty rare in this city. They are a huge supporter of artisans here and abroad and the collection of Mexican folk art and Dia de Los Muertos figurines is the best I've seen outside of Mexico!      

ON WHEN YOU KNOW: The biggest thing I had to overcome personally [was] the terror of quitting a stable job to go out on my own. But there just comes a moment when you know it's right. And that if one more person asks you to do one more thing, your head is going to explode and you're going to jump on the register and kick over all the computers. Time to go haha.

ON LEARNING TO SAY "NO": Of course, being a woman in a male dominated field is challenging - we all know the struggle. [Until] now, 99% of the jobs I've been hired for were by men. I had to learn, and am still learning, how to converse with clients in a way that is healthy for my business. The most challenging thing to talk to clients about is money (that yes, it costs money). Standing my ground and learning to say "no" were the best things I ever did for myself. No to spec and free work, no to wildly deviating from my prices and no to things I am not qualified to do. Sometimes it doesn't work in my favor, but having someone walk all over you while they get their way and you're doing things for free is the worst feeling in a work relationship. It's like having a bad boss - but now I'm the boss and it's awesome!

ON PARTNERSHIP: When I'm not doing my own things, I assist and travel with my fiancee David on his photography adventures. Even though I'm helping him, he's also scouting for lettering that will inspire me. He's gotten pretty good at pulling off to the side of the road to take pictures of an old sign even before I ask him to.

Follow her on Instagram: @ry.art