After graduating from MA Creative Practice in 2017, Bobbi Rae has been freelancing in interdisciplinary creative roles and successfully establishing herself and her business.

What did you enjoy about your time at Leeds Arts University and how did MA Creative Practice course help you in start out professionally?

Throughout my time on the course, whist enjoying the amazing facilities Leeds Arts University has to offer, I was encouraged strongly to reflect upon my work. What was I making? Who was it for? What did I want it to say? This gave me the much needed time, motivation and most importantly the resources that I needed; to figure out how I could make my plan work.

Image: Courtesy of Bobbi Rae

What did you do after leaving University?

Since graduating from my MA, I have worked in a number of interdisciplinary creative roles as a freelancer: I have worked closely with a number of small businesses to develop their brands - through the use of bold and playful illustration. I have also taken a number of private commissions, curated exhibitions, painted murals, sold my work online, at art markets and I have recently fulfilled my first wholesale order with an international retailer. Lazy Oaf’s ‘Take A Break’, Intern Magazine’s ‘The Future of Creativity’ and Camden Town Brewery’s ‘Hello Hells’ are just a few of the exhibitions I have been a part of since 2017.

Image: Courtesy of Bobbi Rae

Could you give us a description of a typical day?

There’s no such thing as a typical day; working as a multidisciplinary creative, each project has specific requirements. Often I work from my studio – waking up and spending the day drawing, making and working on my computer. Other days, I am on-site. I will be up ladders painting buildings, measuring up for exhibitions or out delivering artworks. A lot more time than you might think is spent replying to emails, doing admin and packing orders, however, it’s all just part of the parcel of running your own business.

You’ve been part of some really exciting projects since graduating. What have been your favourite moments?

I was thrilled to work alongside artists whom I had really admired for a long time when I worked with Camden Town Brewery – Krystina Baczynski and Molly Fairhurst. That was great! Working with Modes of Expression to pull-off our final show together, ‘Playing by Eye’ at Leeds Arts University's Vernon Street gallery was also a fantastic experience. My proudest project however, I think has to be The GALphabet, which I worked on with Boss Babs: A set of A-Z flash cards featuring an all-female cast of aspiring occupations for young children. It’s all about teaching kids that their gender doesn’t have to define their ambitions – something I feel very strongly about.

Image: Courtesy of Bobbi Rae

Do you have any tips or advice for current students or recent graduates wanting to work in your field?

My top ten tips (not guaranteed but they seem to be working for me!):

  1. Do not stop. Whatever it is that you’re doing, just don’t stop.
  2. Submit your work for open calls. You’ll find these all around uni, on social media and on websites like CuratorSpace.
  3. Post your work online – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Flickr... The more the better.
  4. Take part in group shows. Whether they’re part of your course or not, it’s a great way to get your work out there and for you to start networking.
  5. NETWORK! Go to exhibitions, events, talks. It’s important for people to put a face to a name. 
  6. Stop and think. Take time to assess what you’re doing. Where are you and where do you want to be?
  7. Plan. Once you’ve thought about where you want to go with your creative practice, start making realistic, tangential plans and timelines that will help you to get there.
  8. Grow a thick skin. Things will go wrong and working as a creative you’ll likely not always get your way either. It’s important to be resilient: view feedback as a resource, not a critic. Look at problems as games to solve.
  9. Practice writing. You’ll need it to write proposals, to sell your work online, to take part in open submissions... Good communication is the most useful resource there is.
  10. And finally, make the most of the amazing facilities at Leeds Arts University. You will miss them deeply when they’re gone.

Finally, are there any future ambitions or projects in the pipeline you can tell us about? Some exciting things are being released this year : New projects with Lucy & Yak and Leeds’ all-female skate collective, Rolling With The Girls. I also have a couple of things that are under wraps for the time being but I’m also really looking forward to releasing my next large-scale, full colour, self-publication, based on my recent zine – ‘Why Am I Like This?’.

I’m looking forward to working with lots of new and established clients this year, on collaborative projects and to keep making loads of new work to take to art fairs and sell through my retailers.