Rachel Joanna has always been an artist. As a child, she spent a great deal of time drawing, watching anime, and other animated shows that truly inspired her. She found her passion ignited by the anime “Sailor Moon”. At the age of 9, her mother allowed her to buy two “Sailor Moon” manga volumes, which further fueled her desire to get more serious about honing her drawing skills. “I felt that the manga characters were actually my friends. It was really inspiring to find a comic book with [female] superheroes drawn by a woman,” says Rachel.
Throughout her education, Rachel did everything she could to keep up her artistic endeavors, and she was active in the National Art Honors Society at Mercy Academy. She graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia in 2015 with a BFA in Sequential Art. This degree informed her skills in creating comics, storyboards, concept art, and much more.
Since graduation, Rachel has done a great deal of digital illustration using Clip Studio Paint, a program designed to help create digital art. She spends much of her time taking commissions from clients that request drawings created in her unique, psychedelic style. Her current pet personal project, however, is an original digital comic that she hopes to publish one day on WEBTOON. Rachel finds her inspiration in all sorts of media, from Japanese animated media to films and video games. But her main inspiration these days comes from her fellow artists, who push her to keep growing and support her work through thick and thin.
Rachel gained a following by drawing characters from “Lore Olympus”, a webcomic based on Greek mythology. Rachel drew the characters as birds due to her fondness for them. To her, birds represent the feeling of freedom. Rachel drew a bird-like girl when she was growing up, and this character helped her figure out her emotions.
“Fan content seems to do well on social media since it’s properties people already know,” says Rachel, “but I’ve learned that you can’t just pick something popular and draw it. If you don’t like what you’re drawing, people can tell.”
In 2020, Rachel’s art was discovered through a mutual friend in the Spectrum Fusion community. Since getting in touch with Dr. Heidi Ham, Rachel has collaborated on several projects for Spectrum Fusion, including creating the promotional art for the “Rise Above the Barriers” campaign. She also illustrated and formatted the upcoming children’s book “The Hungry Lady and the Bear”, written by Spectrum Fusion participant Rhys Griffin and sponsored by Spectrum Fusion which is set for release at the end of April 2021, and she is illustrating another book as well. Both books are being published through Orange Hat Publishing Company. Most recently, Rachel is also working with WEBTOON as an influencer, promoting WEBTOON’s content with her very own artwork. She loves working with them and hopes to publish comics through their platform in the future.
Rachel’s art has received positive feedback from her peers and she continues to work hard, both for work and for fun, making art that can influence and encourage everyone. Her goal in life is to one day prove to other autistic women that they are just as capable of working in creative fields as neurotypical adults. Well, Rachel, it looks like you are already showing the world that that is absolutely true!