Spotlight Artist: Merrill Rainey
Posted 7 years ago and submitted by the HAI team | Share link:


How many years have you been a freelance illustrator?
I have been working as a freelance illustrator for over 13 years. I started freelancing back in college doing newspaper editorials. I was then hired as a full-time graphic designer and worked my way up to an art director type position (although they wouldn’t give me the title!). After sitting in the captain’s chair for a couple of years, I had a few key opportunities come about. These opportunities provided the funding and the timing that I needed to jump ship and start my own company working as a full-time freelance illustrator and designer.

What can your work be applied to commercially?
My work can easily be applied to many aspects of the children’s market. From books to board games to online worlds, I’ve worked to develop a couple of different kid-friendly illustration styles that have given me the flexibility to meet the needs of a large spectrum of clientele.

Where would you most like to see your illustrations being used?
Right now, I would like to see more of my work in two places. First, is the trade picture/chapter book industry. It’s a tough market, but it is where I aim to be. I did recently just sign with Razorbill an imprint of Penguin Random House to illustrate my first chapter book series which is set to release in spring of 2017. Second, I would love to see my work being used more on packaging for kids products (kids meals, cereals, game boards, toys, etc.).

What inspires you?
My biggest inspiration is my son. His unstifled imagination amazes me daily. His world is filled with unending possibilities and the creativity of an innocent. As a parent, I am given the opportunity to witness this mystery, to see the wonder of a thought process so pure and honest that it breaks the laws of man and nature. And as the observer, I am constantly reminded by him that in order to succeed in my own work, I need to continually push my creativity to it’s furthest point and when I reach that place… I need to push again.

I also gain inspiration from my creative friends on social media. Working alone, I sometimes forget how much I really do learn from having coworkers, but I have found a way to combat this with social media. Using social media avenues is a part of my daily routine where I can gain insight and inspiration from seeing what other creatives are working on. It also allows me to see what tools they use to create their art and add to my options as I work on projects. I’ve gained so much knowledge from my online creative network about different kinds brushes, ink, fountain pens, markers, and screen printing techniques that I now apply to my own projects.

Apart from illustration, what other skills do you have?
I’m not sure if all of these fall under the category of “skill set”, but I think they describe who I am as an artist and a person. I consider myself to possess the skills of a leader, tinkerer, painter, paper engineer, screen printer, Dad, friend, easygoing, budding children’s book author, crafter, amateur kazoo player, and a lover of Elmer’s glue, tape, scissors and X-ACTO blades

What’s your favourite sandwich filling?
By nature I am a lover of all kinds of sandwiches! But if I had to choose one… nothing beats the filling of an authentic Cuban. Pork, ham, pickles, Swiss cheese, and mustard smushed together between two halves of a Cuban bun, HI-YA!

Merrill Rainey
Children's Illustrator
Maumee, USA
Tel: +1 440.315.0598

Howdy! Growing up, Merrill Rainey spent most of his Saturday afternoons watching monster movies, drawing superheroes, and going on imaginary adventures with his brothers. Today, h… Show more.

Message Merrill
Profile updated 8th November, 2018
Member since 1st February, 2010
2017 Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) Magazine Merit Award - Letter of Merit • 2016 Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) Magazine Me…
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