To Top

Conversations with the Inspiring Rachel Gadson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rachel Gadson.

Rachel, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I was about 6. I remember being very tied to coloring, and drawing my own little worlds that ran through my head onto paper. I attended Dixon Elementary School in Chicago’s Chatham neighborhood and had a very gifted art teacher, Ms. Annette Jackson. Her class was my favorite and it was through her instruction that I was able to truly tap into my gifts… she really pushed me to recognize my greatness, and once I discovered it, I never let it go. From there, I was apart of the Arts & Communications division at my high school (Thornwood High School) where my art teacher Mr. Brian Evans continued to help me uncover my varying artistic talents. Exploring new mediums like charcoal, pastels and watercolor painting, I began to realize that there were many different ways to express my art. I remember not knowing exactly what I wanted to do with myself in terms of a career in art, and talking with my art teacher about it, and it was Mr. Evans that actually suggested I study Graphic Design. Didn’t know much about the field of design, but I understood that it might be a place where I can continue to express the images going on inside my head in digital form… so, I enrolled at Florida A&M University with a major in Graphic Design and fell in love. I loved that design was almost everywhere in our modern day society, and being able to contribute to the visual messages we see on a daily basis was so exciting to me!

I now spend my days as an independent contractor/freelancer. Operating two facets of my business, ILA Creative Studio. The creative is the design work I produce, the studio is the space that will open in 2019 for creatives of varying disciplines to have space to commune, collab and create.

Has it been a smooth road?
Smooth road? Ha! Not at all. It’s been very up and down. I think the biggest struggles have been financial management and gaining steady work. The advice I’d give is to really spend some time figuring out the work you want to do and disregard the work you think other people want you to do. Once you hone in on what you’re passionate about producing, doing more of that feels less like work and more like purpose. And once you’re getting paid to fulfill your purpose it’s an amazing feeling!

Oh and please don’t spend all of your money on eating out like I did… cook more 🙂 + budget!

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into ILA Creative Studio story. Tell us more about the business.
My gifts to the world at present lie within two facets, my bread: (what I love that pays me) and butter: (what I love that serves other). With my bread, I create visual brand identities for brands and small businesses that are doing great work. My specialty lies in creating consistent imagery that will live with a brand or an event for years to come; this is why I enjoy creating the identities for companies and similarly working on designs for events. Remember those stories I told you about in my head when I was a little girl? They still exist, except now they’re given a little more inspired by the different requests that are given to me by my clients. Delivering effective messages visually is like storytelling, and being able to do so in a compelling and interesting manner is what I’m most proud of.

My butter is simply creating spaces to empower other creatives to do great shit. I believe that creatives have the most important job on this planet. Art inspires. Art encourages. Art unites. And if we aren’t supporting and taking care of our creators, what would the world be like without them? It is this sole reason that I began things like SWAN Day Chicago with my friend, and am venturing to build a co-working space strictly for creatives. We need spaces to feel recharged and empowered to continue sharing our gifts with the world. I’m simply dedicated to making sure those spaces exist.

For good reason, society often focuses more on the problems rather than the opportunities that exist, because the problems need to be solved. However, we’d probably also benefit from looking for and recognizing the opportunities that women are better positioned to capitalize on. Have you discovered such opportunities?
Certainly! I think women have the opportunity now more than ever to LEAD. More women founders. More women-owned businesses. More women holding political seats. More women controlling things for the betterment of our society is what’s needed. For some reason, women get overlooked and we shouldn’t… the more women we have in leadership roles, the sooner there’ll be an effective change.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Alex Herrara

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in