Artist in Residence Rachal Dugan - 50 Fun Library Facts Interview
Rachal Duggan is an illustrator who is all about storytelling and connection making. I first experienced Rachal’s work when she was an Artist in Residence with the Bubbler at Madison Public Library, and have enjoyed working with her and following her numerous illustration projects since. Here, we dive into Rachal’s relationship to libraries and her “Library Facts” series for her EveryLibrary residency.
Rachal Duggan is an illustrator who is all about storytelling and connection making. I first experienced Rachal’s work when she was an Artist in Residence with the Bubbler at Madison Public Library, and have enjoyed working with her and following her numerous illustration projects since. Here, we dive into Rachal’s relationship to libraries and her “Fun Library Facts” series for her EveryLibrary residency. Enjoy! ~Laura Damon-Moore
Laura Damon-Moore (LDM): Please introduce yourself, and tell us what kind of creative work you do.
Rachal Duggan (RD): I’m Rachal and I’m an Illustrator. I draw all sorts of things! I create simple black and white linework based off of observations, memories, things, and people. I’ve always enjoyed drawing in its most simplistic and accessible form: pen and paper.
LDM: Tell us about your relationship to libraries, in childhood, and now.
RD: I grew up in a small town outside of Chicago and can still picture the library I went to! It was the norm to go to our library as a kid to pick up and return books, movies, CDs. When I went to art school, I lived across from Harold Washington Library in Chicago. I really love that spot. It’s like a monument. Now, no matter where I live, I find my local library so I can scope it out and get a feel for my new spot. I just moved to Milwaukee and have a great branch just down the street from me. I love libraries because everyone is welcome and there’s always something new to find.
LDM: This is your second artist residency that is related to libraries in some way. What’s appealing to you about libraries as space or subject matter for your art?
RD: I feel accepted by library folks! We just click. When I was living in Madison, I heard amazing things about The Bubbler at Madison Public Library. I applied to the residency on a whim and got it. For two amazing and busy months, I had a blast drawing on windows, teaching workshops, illustrating portraits, and so much more. I also met really incredible people who helped connect me with other fantastic opportunities – like my current residency with EveryLibrary. This time around I’m creating more than 50 drawings based off of interesting library facts sourced from individuals and through my own research.
LDM: How did you decide on “Fun Library Facts” for your EveryLibrary residency theme?
RD: I was brainstorming about project concepts and needed a little help so I met up with my Bubbler confidante, Carlee Latimer, and while we were discussing ideas – this one popped out and I knew it was perfect. I really enjoy creating work that resonates with others and feels inclusive. I also wanted a challenge – and creating this many illustrations for one project is certainly a challenge!
LDM: As you’ve sifted through the facts you’ve received about libraries, have there been any themes, any surprises, anything that’s stood out to you?
RD: My biggest surprise has been how resourceful and community-driven libraries are. When someone says ‘library’ most people think of a building with books. However, when you start learning more about libraries, you see the diversity in offerings: sewing classes, tech assistance, pet adoption events, free haircuts…the list goes on. Libraries offer so much to people; you may just have to seek them out.
LDM: A lot of your illustration series are inspired by stories that come to you from friends and followers on social media. How did you get started crowd-sourcing your illustration ideas, and what’s appealing to you about that process and that give and take relationship?
RD: We live in a time where social media is a normal part of your day, your work, your life. I began sharing my work online, on Instagram, almost 10 years ago. It was hard at first and then I began getting more and more encouragement from posting my work. Now, much of what I post is to start a conversation. I love connecting with people through my work since that is my language. It is really easy to ask questions on social media and get feedback and ideas. I also love a good story and this is one way to connect with people all over the world.
LDM: What would your ideal library look like, smell like, feel like? What would it have in it, outside of it, nearby?
RD: I love this question! Now that I’ve been learning so much about libraries from across the country – it’s quite amazing how different and special libraries are. That being said, here I go…
My ideal library would be a treehouse. It would face an ocean or lake and have a porch, too. Inside there’d be a coffee spot and a sunny area. But, there’d also be a dark and cozy area for those who want more of that vibe. I’d also have an animal sanctuary on the grounds so you could interact with beautiful creatures; or just watch them from above. There’d be paper and drawing supplies all over and guests would be invited to doodle or write a note and post it up on the wall for everyone to observe.