Rebecca Rueth: An Artful Journey From Indiana to L.A.
SoCal Artist, Designer & Photographer
Interview & photos by Nancy Lozano-Stecyk
In high school, Rebecca Rueth loved art, creative writing and she had a special affinity for animated Disney movies so she wrote a letter to the The Walt Disney Company letting them know she wanted to become an animator.
Disney replied with a packet of information, including a list of recommended colleges and areas of study so that she could explore an art career.
Rueth, who was living in Northwest Indiana, about 45 minutes away from downtown Chicago at that time, wasted no time.
“My dad and I visited different schools on the list and I sent out applications,” she recalls. “I was so excited when I got my acceptance letter back from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) because it felt like the perfect mix of art school and…a traditional college campus.”
At RISD she chose the Illustration Department as recommended by Disney but quickly learned that her strength was not in drawing people and characters.
Still, she decided to stay in the program.
“It allowed me to take a wide variety of classes …to help me figure out what other career paths I might want to pursue in the field of art and design,” says Rueth. “One of my favorite classes was my Watercolor class with (renowned illustrator) Tom Sgouros. He was losing his eyesight and had started painting these wonderful abstract landscapes. I think that class had a lot of influence on my current Alcohol ink pieces.”
Rueth eventually landed an internship at New York & Co. where she became fascinated by the textile and trend department and realized that was the career path she wanted to pursue.
She applied and was accepted to FIDM’s Surface Design Professional Designation program.
“I quit my job, and moved out to L.A.,” she shares. “The 9 month program was a perfect opportunity for me to test out and learn all that I could about The Textile Design Industry,” she adds.
After completing the program, she landed a full-time job as a Graphic Designer at Guess working on Textile patterns and tee shirt graphics in the Young Contemporary Women’s department.
Rebecca did not end up pursuing a Disney career in the animation industry. Instead, she fell in love with an animator, got married and became a mom.
“I often help him with developing his ideas for show pitches and give him constructive criticism on his character designs and ask him for feedback on my own projects,” she says.
Today, you can find Rebecca completing incredible freelance projects in many different types of mediums.
What’s been the most challenging aspect of running your business?
I would say the most challenging aspect of my business is definitely life/work balance. When you really love what you do, you can really get lost in your work. I used to be a total workaholic, with freelance work it can be feast or famine. After the birth of my daughter it was harder to cater to all of needs of my clients while prioritizing my daughter’s needs, so I cut down on my workload and have been trying to have more balance in my life.
How do you find the inspiration to keep going when you’re busy and tired?
Fortunately, I feel like I have more ideas than I have time to do them, so finding inspiration isn’t really my problem. I love photography and I am always taking photos of things that interest and inspire me (from beautiful flowers in bloom to cool textures on a wall) and try to just experiment with new mediums and different techniques, as well.
I often watch classes on Skillshare, while I work to keep pushing me to try new things.
Due to my workaholic nature, I do have a tendency to get a little burnt out every so often and need to take a day or two to rest and recoup. To recharge, I like to go for a spa day or schedule some time to go walk around somewhere inspiring. A favorite is the Huntington Library & Gardens in San Marino.
Share a little bit about the experience of being both a mom and an active artist... what are your biggest challenges?
I think what I wrote as my artist statement for the Mommy in L.A. Magazine launch party, nicely answers this question. For me (and I think this is the case for most moms), Motherhood has been a journey of the familiar and foreign all at the same time. There are days that I feel comfortable treading the well-worn road before me, but every so often I find myself somewhere strange and unfamiliar forced to continue off the beaten path. The joys that I have felt have lifted me up higher than the tallest mountains, and likewise the lows have plunged me into the depths of the deepest oceans. Some days, I have felt like I was traveling on another planet or existing in a fantasy land of someone else's design. This is just the beginning of my journey, I know the road before me winds through the unknown but I look forward to see where the rest of this adventure takes us.
My "Journey of a Thousand Lands" collection is composed of a series of imagined landscapes that have evolved during my experiments with alcohol inks this year. In addition to being representational of my journey through Motherhood, I chose this collection for this exhibit because there are a lot of similarities between my parenting style and working with this medium.
After struggling with a bit of a speech delay, my daughter was diagnosed on the autism spectrum in the fall of 2017. This whole experience has led me to truly learn to let go of expectations and to understand that not everything in life is going to go according to your plan. It has pushed me to try different approaches to work through our daily struggles and has helped me celebrate those moments of accomplishment. Ultimately, it has opened my eyes to seeing the world from a new perspective each day and reminds me to embrace the beauty of what makes us each unique individuals. These principles hold true with this medium, as well. Alcohol inks almost have a mind of their own and more often than not you just have to embrace that you may not achieve the exact results you imagined, but when you learn to let go of your expectations and just embrace the process you can still end up with beautiful results.
Your advice to moms who want to create/launch/do something but feel overwhelmed about the prospect of being able to balance it all—
Make time in your schedule. Come up with a plan and just jump in, but don’t be afraid to fail! Most of successful products or businesses are here because their creators kept pushing on.