Eerie, magical beasts

Crow and toes by Rachel FalberI interviewed Rachel Falber for SkyLightRain some time ago, intrigued by the elegant and precise darkness evoked in her deliciously named Hare Raising Designs. I adore the way her artworks always hint at what lies just beneath the surface, not just physically, through the animal skeletons she often draws, but psychologically.

Over the past few years I’ve continued to see Rachel’s creations cropping up at art shows all over Bristol and beyond, and couldn’t resist finding out where she and her work are at now.

Crab print by Rachel Falber

Crab print by Rachel Falber

“Quite a lot has been happening recently,” Rachel says. “Most exciting of all is I am now a Princes Trust Enterprise Young Person, which means I did the four-day course and am attending meetings and workshops to help me launch Hare Raising Designs officially! It’s been amazing and I still have a couple of years’ worth of support with them. Other things I have been up to include re branding myself as a designer and artist, launching new products and trying out new places to sell like markets and Arts Trails.”

Screen printed sperm whale by Rachel Falber

Screen printed sperm whale by Rachel Falber

Rachel’s debut solo exhibition Semblance took place a while back “for a few different reasons, mostly to make myself do a fine art-based body of work, to give myself a time frame to do it in, to get a bit of exposure and to try new things and do some experimenting.”

To achieve this, Rachel had access to a large space “where I could go big and messy”, which became the birthplace of all art for the show.

“I thought the word ‘Semblance’ fitted the themes within my work as well as how I felt people perceive my art,” she explains. “I feel like my fine art has folklore and anthropomorphic themes as well as sometimes having macabre elements to it, but what inspires me to make the work are things that aren’t obviously connected.”

Narwhals by Rachel Falber

Narwhals by Rachel Falber

I love the card above. My husband bought it for me when I was writing some fiction filled with these peculiar, magical sea-beasts, and it always makes me smile to see it.

Research forms the foundation of much of her projects. “I was doing lots of research on quite current things like the internet and our personas both online and off, and how different they can be,” she says. “For example, people who are shy in real life can be outgoing and confident online, even though thousands more people can see them. It’s like they’re using the screen as a mask and a tool to distance themselves from the rest of the world. I took elements of these ideas and elements from more traditional ways people use masks and made art that reacted to it. So, I guess I feel like my art has hidden depths which mirrors the essence of the word ‘semblance’.”

Folklore, mythology and culture all inspire her creations, “also human behaviour and natural history, which is a huge element that spans across all the art and design work I create.”

I’m a huge fan of Rachel’s shadowy view of the natural world, not least her darker-than-average take on Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer, which is serving as my Christmas jumper this year 🙂

Rudolf sweatshirt by Rachel Falber

Currently Rachel is devoting some of her energy to focusing on the business side of things. “The actual creating of work has been put on the back bench while I try and get the business off the ground,” she admits. “I guess I’m developing my work, but from a more business point of view, I’m learning a lot about the things that run alongside creating work, promoting myself, expanding my customer base and getting my products and art out to more people. That takes a huge chunk of time and I’m really experiencing what it’s like to be a one-woman band.”

Rachel relishes getting feedback from people who encounter her work through art trails and markets. “I love talking to likeminded people who maybe create themselves or are starting a business of their own,” she comments. “I find great comfort and pride in being able to advise someone on something which helps them in some way, and which I have experienced as a self employed creative. The feeling I get when someone is willing to part with their hard earned money to buy something I’ve made, even just to buy a card, humbles me greatly and I will never take that for granted.”

Find Rachel at, on Etsy, on Twitter as @hareraisingd or @Rachel_Falber, and on Instagram as hareraisingdesigns or rachelfalberartist.

Know an artist you’d like to see showcased on Give me a shout at judy (at) 

Hareraising art with Rachel Falber

dead bird cr Rachel FalberI first discovered the artwork of Rachel Falber thanks to her creepy, kookie skeletal sketches – being the kind of person who will pause to photograph a dead bird on the street, I see something beautiful in the slender, twisted bones that might leave others cold. I think Rachel’s skill is in highlighting that unexpected and somewhat troubling elegance so far more people can appreciate it. However, it turns about that there is much more to Rachel’s portfolio – in fact, it’s her “wildlife and general nice things” that got her started.

“I studied it at Falmouth Uni, and decided to go into illustration after being offered an exhibition at a gallery in Bristol of massive drawings of hares!” she says.

Boxing Hares cr Rachel Falber

Boxing Hares cr Rachel Falber

I love the balletic movement in this piece, and the way the hares have their eyes tight closed – almost as though lost in a private moment of ecstasy.

Rachel comes from “quite an artistic background, both my parents are creative. I’ve always been interested in at and enjoyed art photography and drawing. The first piece of art that I was proud of was my hare project for that first show in Bristol, but the kind of things that inspire me now are quite different to what inspired my hare drawings.”

Strength cr Rachel Falber

Mythology and fables as well as natural history and the macabre all inspire Rachel’s art these days. “For example, I’m currently doing an on going project on Tarot cards. My style is macabre, ink on paper – I use fine liners a lot in my darker work.”

It’s the eerier pieces that particularly intrigue me, though, and, it seems, Rachel too.

“I’m trying to think of what inspired me to draw endless skeletons!” she exclaims. “I’ve always been fascinated with Day of the Dead and that kind of thing. The Tarot card thing came about from working with a really cool guy who does sculptures, He said he was fascinated with time so that was the theme of the show, I found it interesting how people can’t control time, and started researching how people try to cope with the uncertainties of this – one of the ways is by trying to find out their futures, which lead me to Tarot cards…”

The Magician cr Rachel Falber

Want to see more of Rachel’s work? Pay a visit to her website, or drop by her Etsy shop, where she sells original cards and prints, or get in touch via her website. “I’m always looking out for opportunities and likeminded people to do shows with and pop up shops.”

Are you an artist or do you know an artist who would like to be showcased on Get in touch at judydarley (at) I’m also happy to receive reviews of books, exhibitions, theatre and film. To submit or suggest a review, please send an email to judydarley (at)