Laura Damon-Moore (LDM): Please introduce yourself, and tell us what kind of creative work you do.
Rachal Duggan (RD): I’m Rachal and I’m an Illustrator. I draw all sorts of things! I create simple black and white linework based off of observations, memories, things, and people. I’ve always enjoyed drawing in its most simplistic and accessible form: pen and paper.
LDM: Tell us about your relationship to libraries, in childhood, and now.
RD: I grew up in a small town outside of Chicago and can still picture the library I went to! It was the norm to go to our library as a kid to pick up and return books, movies, CDs. When I went to art school, I lived across from Harold Washington Library in Chicago. I really love that spot. It’s like a monument. Now, no matter where I live, I find my local library so I can scope it out and get a feel for my new spot. I just moved to Milwaukee and have a great branch just down the street from me. I love libraries because everyone is welcome and there’s always something new to find.
LDM: This is your second artist residency that is related to libraries in some way. What’s appealing to you about libraries as space or subject matter for your art?
RD: I feel accepted by library folks! We just click. When I was living in Madison, I heard amazing things about The Bubbler at Madison Public Library. I applied to the residency on a whim and got it. For two amazing and busy months, I had a blast drawing on windows, teaching workshops, illustrating portraits, and so much more. I also met really incredible people who helped connect me with other fantastic opportunities – like my current residency with EveryLibrary. This time around I’m creating 50 drawings based off of interesting library facts sourced from individuals and through my own research.
LDM: How did you decide on “Fun Library Facts” for your EveryLibrary residency theme?
RD: I was brainstorming about project concepts and needed a little help so I met up with my Bubbler confidante, Carlee Latimer, and while we were discussing ideas – this one popped out and I knew it was perfect. I really enjoy creating work that resonates with others and feels inclusive. I also wanted a challenge – and creating 50+ illustrations for one project is certainly a challenge!
LDM: As you’ve sifted through the facts you’ve received about libraries, have there been any themes, any surprises, anything that’s stood out to you?
RD: My biggest surprise has been how resourceful and community-driven libraries are. When someone says ‘library’ most people think of a building with books. However, when you start learning more about libraries, you see the diversity in offerings: sewing classes, tech assistance, pet adoption events, free haircuts…the list goes on. Libraries offer so much to people; you may just have to seek them out.
LDM: A lot of your illustration series are inspired by stories that come to you from friends and followers on social media. How did you get started crowd-sourcing your illustration ideas, and what’s appealing to you about that process and that give and take relationship?
RD: We live in a time where social media is a normal part of your day, your work, your life. I began sharing my work online, on Instagram, almost 10 years ago. It was hard at first and then I began getting more and more encouragement from posting my work. Now, much of what I post is to start a conversation. I love connecting with people through my work since that is my language. It is really easy to ask questions on social media and get feedback and ideas. I also love a good story and this is one way to connect with people all over the world.
LDM: What would your ideal library look like, smell like, feel like? What would it have in it, outside of it, nearby?
RD: I love this question! Now that I’ve been learning so much about libraries from across the country – it’s quite amazing how different and special libraries are. That being said, here I go…
My ideal library would be a treehouse. It would face an ocean or lake and have a porch, too. Inside there’d be a coffee spot and a sunny area. But, there’d also be a dark and cozy area for those who want more of that vibe. I’d also have an animal sanctuary on the grounds so you could interact with beautiful creatures; or just watch them from above. There’d be paper and drawing supplies all over and guests would be invited to doodle or write a note and post it up on the wall for everyone to observe.