We had the good fortune of connecting with Rachel O’Donnell and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rachel, alright, let’s jump in with a deep one – what’s you’re definition for success?
Success is the day you crown yourself. As an artist, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of creating career benchmarks that give you and your work value. You’re waiting for that big gallery, that famous art magazine or the top art critic to tell you that your work is ‘worthy’. When you take this approach, success will forever be a moving goal post as those things are changing all the time. There are also so many different factors to success as a creative that you’ll drive yourself crazy by trying to quantify it (Is it by number of followers? The dollar amount of private commissions? Being represented by a well-known gallery or collected by the right collector?). Once you decide that your power and therefore your success can only come from you, you protect yourself from the feeling that others can take it away. Success is quite simply, being able to create work that you feel proud of and having the wherewithal to keep going even on days when you doubt yourself.
Please tell us more about your career. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way.
Born in Dallas, Texas, I was always drawn to the arts. I went to a public arts high school in the area (for dance at the time) and then went to college at Pratt Institute in New York for painting. I lived there until 2015 and then moved to Los Angeles. Being an artist is full of challenges but I count myself lucky to be able to do what I love in a city so full of glamour and tacos. My artwork weaves together classical art influences, old Hollywood, horror and dissects the intersections of culture and power with a technicolor palette and plenty of surface exploration.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’m partial to my side of Los Angeles and I would send my friends to check out East Hollywood, Silverlake and Los Feliz. These are the best things to check out (pre-Pandemic + hopefully after)– Things to do: La Luz de Jesus Gallery + Soap Plant/Wacko on Hollywood Blvd, The Vista movie theater, the Los Feliz 3 movie theater (I love the vintage theaters in Los Angeles and these two sell tickets at a great price), Alter Los Angeles in Silverlake Food: El Zarape on Fountain Avenue, Chi Dynasty in Los Feliz, HomeState, Square One Dining (brunch), Speranza, Zankou Chicken (the garlic sauce is unreal), Fred 62 + Little Doms (if you’re feeling fancy) Drink: Akbar on Sunset blvd, Tiki-Ti, Ye Rustic Inn (if you love a great dive bar)
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
The great art galleries and museums of Los Angeles who have given me opportunities to show my work! La Luz de Jesus Gallery, Artshare LA, Mash Gallery, New Image Art and the Chinese American Museum. And also, Not Real Art World for giving me my first big art grant in 2019 and allowing me to write about the art world on their website. I am eternally grateful!