Entrepreneurs in the Heartland: Rachel Ignotofsky, Illustrator and Author

Standing out as a designer or illustrator on the internet isn't easy. There's so much work already out there, and it can be difficult to set yourself apart. However, every so often I'll come across an illustrator whose work is bursting with so much personality and charm that I can't help but notice and want to find out more about them. Meet Rachel Ignotofsky.

Rachel is a Kansas City-based designer, illustrator, and author who has combined her love for science and illustration to create educational and beautiful pieces of work. Her "Women in Science" series, which highlights the contributions women have made to different STEM fields, has received mentions from Scientific American, Fast Company, and Buzzfeed, to name a few. 

First off, I'm a huge fan of your women in science illustrations. I understand you have a strong interest in the sciences, but could you elaborate on why you wanted to do the series in the first place?

Throughout history women have made amazing contributions to science, engineering,  and mathematics that have changed our world for the better. Yet today, women are still underrepresented in these fields. Young girls are not seeing a space for themselves in the sciences, but we need their brainpower and perspective to create solutions to today's big problems.

So how do you make young girls comfortable in pursuing these subjects? I think that a good way to fight gender bias is to show young girls and boys strong female role models. Illustration is a powerful tool to educate. I wanted to do something that celebrated these women and inspired people to learn more about them. 

This series has become a book that will be in stores July 26thWomen in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World , profiles female scientist from ancient times to modern day. I hope this book will make more of these women household names and inspire young women to be excited about science and always follow their passion.

I think that a good way to fight gender bias is to show young girls and boys strong female role models. Illustration is a powerful tool to educate.”

You used to be a designer and illustrator at Hallmark before transitioning to launching out on your own. How was that transition to being self employed and managing your own business as an artist?

It was scary, but I always to wanted to work for myself. The transition felt like a graduation. I enjoyed my time at Hallmark and learned a lot, but it was time to move on and start my business. Taking a risk on yourself is always worth pursuing.

What are some projects you have in the works that you're really excited about? 

I am very excited about my Women in Science Book. I am also very proud of a couple infographics I did for Pablove Cancer Foundation to help explain the research they were funding and raise money and awareness for pediatric cancer.

I am also working on a documentary about a local Holocaust survivor called Big Sonia that is really heart warming.  I am very picky with my projects, I really want to do work that interests me and helps causes I believe in.

Do you have a morning routine? 

I am a night owl so I start my day usually around 10 am and exercise for an hour.  I write a list before I go to bed at night so I don't have to think too hard when I get up. I just do whatever it tells me to until I am fully awake.

Favorite sources of inspiration for your work? 

Science and history are my main inspirations. If a topic excites me I let the content drive my illustration. Right now, I am obsessing over David Attenborough documentaries. I love seeing the planet's natural beauty and amazed how the photographers get their footage.

How have you marketed yourself to potential clients?

I use social media as my main way of getting my work in front of people. Clients usually seek me out because of my self driven projects. Hard work and passion are the best way to gain more clients and get paid to do work you'd do anyway for the pure love of it.

I saw that you're from New Jersey. Why have you decided to make Kansas City your home?

I got hired by Hallmark right out of college. It took a little bit to adjust to a new city but you meet people, fall in love, and start building a life. The reason I stayed in KC now is because I have great friends, a wonderful (big and cheap!) house that I rent and all of the perks, great community and opportunities that living in a small city provides. 

And finally, what would you put on your "Mixtape Monday"? 

I am all about what is on my stitcher podcast streamer. I like hearing a story while I work, rather then listen to music. So I got This American life, Reply all, Serial, Savage Lovecast, Planet Money, RadioLab , Slate's working, and Invisibilia cued up right now.

You can see more of Rachel's work on her website and on her Etsy store