Catherine Jozwik
Art Scene

How to Become Very Popular

Local illustrator Rachal Duggan explains how to build a professional career.

By - Oct 21st, 2019 03:28 pm
A self-portrait illustration of Rachal Duggan.

A self-portrait illustration of Rachal Duggan.

Rachal Duggan, a professional illustrator since 2009, has built up an enviable list of clients, including publications such as NYLON, The Pitchfork Review and Chicago Reader, and such organizations as National Museum of Mexican Art.

However, for Duggan, this was far from an easy process. She says it takes a thick skin to succeed.

“Getting work isn’t like flipping a switch—it’s pitching your work, talking to people, and asking for opportunities,” Duggan notes. “So often you don’t hear back or you get told ‘no.’ You really have to be OK with failure and persisting beyond rejection.”

A native of the Chicago area, Duggan has been drawing since she was young. She attended art school in Chicago, studying art, design, and illustration. After spending several years living in Madison, Duggan moved to Milwaukee in June. “While in Madison, I really missed living in a bigger city and Milwaukee is a great size—small enough to get around easily but big enough to have great city amenities,” she says.

Duggan often appears at private events like makers markets, where she draws live portraiture often focusing on the human posterior. “I’ve always been a fan of the human form, and when I realized I could draw butts fast and pretty accurately, I decided to offer it,” she says. “I also keep my work affordable, so it’s accessible for people to buy and participate with.” In addition, Duggan has offered live illustration workshops, but, as an introvert, feels events such as those can be “exhausting.” She prefers plenty of variety in her work.

“Getting a mix of solitary drawing and public events is ideal for me,” Duggan notes.

She recommends that artists take full advantage of all that social media sites such as Instagram and Facebook have to offer. “Social media has been instrumental in advancing my illustration career, be it followers buying my work, people connecting me with potential clients, or just outlets sharing my work and crediting me,” Duggan says.

November and December are the most hectic months of year for the illustrator, who creates many custom portraits as holiday gifts. Duggan will also be participating in Hovercraft, Milwaukee’s holiday vendor market featuring more than 100 local artisans, food, and a bar, on December 1 from noon to 6 p.m. at the Pritzlaff Building, 325 N. Plankinton Ave.

For more information on Duggan’s custom portraits, visit her Etsy shop, RADIllustrates.

Art News:

Last Tuesday, the Museum of Wisconsin Art (MOWA) announced that, per the request by Wisconsin governor Tony Evers and First Lady Kathy Evers, the museum has selected Wisconsin art to be displayed on the first floor of the Executive Residence. “It’s an honor to collaborate with Governor and First Lady Evers,” said MOWA executive director and CEO Laurie Winters in a recent press release.

The Executive Residence will showcase nearly 20 works of more than a dozen local artists, including Tom Uttech, Reggie Baylor, Truman Lowe, Lucia Stern and Dona Look.

Art Events and Gallery Openings

Tuesday, 1:30 p.m.:

The MAM will host a gallery talk on its current photography exhibition, Portrait of Milwaukee, with Ariel Pate, MAM assistant curator of photography, and former NAACP Youth Council Commando Fred Reed.

Wednesday, 1:30 to 2:45 p.m.:

The MAM will host a Trolley Tour of Sculpture Milwaukee, highlighting the sculptures along Wisconsin Avenue. For tickets, visit


Latino Arts Inc., 1028 S. 9th St., opens its Dia de los Muertos Ofrendas (Day of the Dead Offerings) exhibit, which runs through November 22.

Thursday, 6:15 p.m.:

The MAM’s Lubar Auditorium will present a lecture on the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris by UW-Milwaukee associate professors Richard Leson, art history, and Larry Kuiper, French. The talk is free with museum admission and free for members.

-Everyday Icons, a collaborative exhibition featuring the work of Richard Taylor and Daniel Fleming, opens with a reception at Carroll University’s Joyce Paddock Bliss Art Gallery, 120 N. East Ave. in Waukesha. The exhibit runs through November 24.

Sunday, 12:30 p.m.:

Urban Milwaukee will host its final walking tour of Sculpture Milwaukee. Guide Jonas Karvelis will discuss the sculptures along Wisconsin Avenue. The 90-minute tour will begin with John Baldessari’s Penguin 2018 and conclude at St. Kate–The Arts Hotel. Tickets are $12, $6 for Urban Milwaukee members, and must be purchased in advance. Click here for details.

Last Chance: Exhibit Closing

Purgatory Misplaced will close Saturday at the Frank Juarez Gallery, 207 E. Buffalo St., #600.

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