BECCA DRAWS ATX
MAKER: REBECCA BORELLI
Becca Borrelli is an admirer of doodling, lettering, and art teaching. Since graduating with a MA in Art Education from The University of Texas, she has been working as an art teacher at The Contemporary Art School in Austin, and establishing an illustration and sign making business. She is inspired by the invisible connections between all things, and her work aims to be a playful, bright, and hopeful interpretation of the world's whimsical and magical sides.
Learn more about Becca's personal ties to Austin and her colorful designs below!
PROJECTS LIKE THE DRIPPING SPRINGS SCHOOL MURALS ARE A BIG DEAL AND very SPECIAL TO ME, INCORPORATING ART + EDUCATION IS RARE THESE DAYS. HOW DID THIS RELATIONSHIP/PROJECT GET STARTED? TELL US THE STORY :)
Yes! The intersection of art and education are special to me too. Both of my degrees are in art education. Illustration has been a recent thing. Before that I was a teacher in some shape or form for 15 years. Teaching is one of the few things I love as much (or possibly at times more) than making art. I left public school teaching for reasons that would take too long to share here, but my dream is to continue combining my illustration career with education as much as possible. I met one of the Dripping Springs Middle School Art Teachers at West Austin studio tour this past May. She bought a print from me and shared that Dripping Springs ISD was taking mural proposals for their new combined Middle/Elementary school building. I had been getting my feet wet doing interactive coloring book murals and pitched the idea: If I draw the murals, what about letting the kids color them? The administration loved the idea. The rest was history. That job ended up being a personal favorite.
One of the things that hurt me most when I was a teacher was the phrase: Those who can, DO. Those who can’t, TEACH. Nothing could be further from the truth, but the stereotype is pretty prescient. When I teach kids, something shifts in them when I share my work with brands they recognize like HEB or Dell Children’s Hospital. They seem to respect me more. Right now, schools are so fragmented from the rest of the world. It’s my hope we can blur the lines between teaching in a school and working out in the world. Kids could truly start to see how their education actually functions in real life.
WHY DO YOU CALL AUSTIN HOME
I first came to Austin in the summer of 2010 to apartment hunt before grad school. I was a 30-year-old public school art teacher hailing from Ohio. I flew into San Antonio and drove a rental car up Interstate 35. I remember coming around the bend and seeing downtown for the first time. I was bowled over by this unexpected powerful feeling: I AM HOME. I had never felt something so intangible and yet certain at the same time. To me, Austin has just felt like home form the very beginning.
FAVORITE SONG/ARTIST/ALBUM FOR A SPARK OF CREATIVITY
Haha! This is simultaneously the hardest and easiest question for people in creative business to answer. My favorites are elusive and always changing. Right now I’ve found myself putting Stevie Ray Vaughn on during art making. His music makes me feel more in touch with old Austin.
BIGGEST DEBATE OF ALL: COFFEE or TEA, BE SPECIFIC ;)
Coffee! Coffee was one of the things that sparked the Enlightenment. People stopped boozing and starting swapping philosophical binges around coffee houses. To me, coffee is Queen in the creative world.
WHO DO YOU FOLLOW FOR INSTAGRAM INSPIRATION
My favorite IG’s are people who tell good stories, or have a unique voice. Tyler J McCall, Glitter and Lazers, Yonderway Farmer and Five Chicks and a Farmer are fan-freaking- tastic story tellers, both as writers on their feed, as well as their IG stories. These accounts are really different from one another, but they all share a clear voice and vision for something better in the world. Emily McDowell, Brian Andreas, Dallas Clayton, and ByMarieAndrew are some of my fave creatives with unique voices. They found an audience by being themselves, and that’s truly rare on IG these days.
GO TO MID-DAY SNACK or ROUTINE FOR CREATIVE FUEL
My phone alarm goes off at 1 pm and I do a 10 minute grounding meditation wherever I’m at. I’m not a huge meditation person and I wish I was better at it. That said, ten minutes once in the morning and afternoon is completely do-able for me. Sometimes in the moment I wonder if it’s actually helping, but it is has absolutely transformed my work days over the long term.
WHERE DO YOU DESIGN BEST? EX: HOME, STUDIO, NATURE, ETC.
The energy of space plays a huge role in my output. I still do chalkboard signs, and the craziest is when I’m hand-lettering on site at a bar. The energy of a bar is so frenetic, even during the day when no one is there. It makes it hard to focus! I definitely design best at home.
WHY DID YOU CHOSE TO BE AN ARTIST
It might sound a little dramatic, but self-preservation comes to mind first. I think I’d go nuts doing anything else.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST EXCITING MOMENT SO FAR OF YOUR CRAFT
Recently a client asked to purchase rights to a coloring book I illustrated for them. We’re still in negotiation, and I don’t know if they’ll accept my offer, but the simple fact that they found my work worth purchasing outright was a milestone for me. I realized that this thing could work out long term. I’m not ashamed to admit I cried happy tears that day. It’s not lost on me how fortunate I am to be in this position. Illustrating for HEB was a close second. That company is an absolute joy to work with! I designed their re-usable Earth Day bag this year, and it was the largest audience to see my illustration work.
HOW DO YOU MAKE SURE YOUR BRAND STANDS OUT
The foundation of my brand is that no one draws like I do. Wherever I’m working I try to keep my style consistent. For artists, brand recognition can be that simple.
WHO HAS HAD THE MOST CREATIVE INFLUENCE ON YOUR LIFE
My boyfriend, friends and family. I can’t pick just one of them, because as a group they have influenced me tremendously. I think a lot of creative people credit their close relationships because those are the people behind the scenes where all the actual work happens. They are the ones holding you up during the low times, and cheering you on during the happy times (and in creative work the low and happy times are numerous!) A good community is invaluable. Nothing is more important to me creatively.
HOW HAS SOCIAL HELPED YOUR BRAND
Social media is the place I tell my story. Over and over I share the behind the scenes tales of my creative corner of the universe. I think people connect with stories as much, if not more, than artwork, making social media incredibly important (whether artists like it or not) to getting work.
WHAT OTHER ARTISTS HAVE YOU LOVED COLLABORATING WITH, IF ANY
I’m collaborating right now with Alex George on an adult weekend art workshop for December. Alex is an incredibly gifted painter and art teacher. We began hashing out our curriculum together a few months ago and I’ve been having a blast. She and I compliment each other really well. She sees things in a way I can’t, and vice versa. I think sometimes that causes tension in collaboration, but the mutual respect between us is so stellar that teamwork flows naturally. I’m excited to share details of the workshop soon. It’s going to be a blast!
HOW IMPORTANT IS SHOPPING LOCAL TO YOU
It’s one of the most important things. I budget extra time/money in my schedule to shop local. Local businesses treat you better every time.
HOW HAS THE AUSTIN COMMUNITY SUPPORTED YOU
I don’t know how to answer this is a short way, haha! The ways I’ve been supported seem endless. In Austin the empathy for dream-chasing is strong. Most people know what I’m going through, because they’re doing it too. Like a big city, creative entrepreneurs abound. Like a small city, everyone still (relatively) knows one another. It’s created the perfect melting pot of community, networking and lifting one another up. I’d tell anyone wanting to start something in Austin, just put your work out into the community long enough. Eventually people just start popping up to work with you. It’s amazing.
WOULD YOU BE OPEN TO A DESIGN COLLAB WITH A LOCAL AUSTIN ARTIST
WHAT IS ONE THING YOU WISH PEOPLE KNEW ABOUT YOUR ILLUSTRATIONS
My swirly style began as a desire to draw the energy between objects, as well as the objects themselves. That might come across as a little hippy, but my fascination with the invisible connections between things is the foundation of my style.
AUSTIN LOCAL INSIDER RECOMMENDATIONS
FAVORITE LOCAL FOOD TRUCK
Churro Co! I’m probably a little biased because I do their chalkboard signs, but they have a special thing going on over there. The guys who started that truck are great energy, fun, and hard-working dudes. Their churros are homemade, creative, and DELICIOUS. If you’ve never had fancy churros, you’re missing out. I love their IG account too, it always makes me smile.
FAVORITE LOCAL CURATED BOUTIQUE
Art for the People Gallery, hands down. Everything about that place makes me happy. The gallery is entirely is run by women, and the curation is stellar. Almost everything is entirely from local makers, and their front porch is the perfect place to sit and have a conversation. As a newbie artist, I’m always feeling like I have to have my hard shell on with retailers, but at AFTP, I feel like they care about me as a human and want me to thrive. I think that energy is rare and embodies what Austin is all about.
FAVORITE LOCAL COFFEE SHOP(S)
I am an equal opportunity coffee shop customer! I’m always going somewhere new, but I do have a soft spot for Patika. The people there are kind, and the vibe is calming and conducive to good conversation as well as productive working.
MUST-SEE RECOMMENDATION(S) FOR THOSE TRAVELING TO AUSTIN
Hope Outdoor Gallery. Artists who worked their back in the day will tell you it’s less of what it once used to be. That may be true, but I think it’s still a place where people can catch some seriously talented artists sharing their work in real time with the public.
WHERE CAN SUPPORTERS FIND YOUR DESIGNS
Web: beccajborrelli.com Instagram: @becca_draws_atx