Fueled by a lifelong passion for art, Rachel Spurling is shaping a new career path at McCullough Creative.
Rachel Spurling was recently hired as the newest fabrication artist here at MC. Creative Copywriter Jeff Montgomery sat down with her to talk about Disney shows, artistic evolution, and the need to keep learning.
Jeff: Let me just start by saying "Welcome, Rachel." We’re excited to have you here.
Rachel: Well, thanks! I am very happy to be here.
A big thing we emphasize here is that the majority of employees are artists. Tell me about your journey with art …
For as long as I can remember, I have been drawn to art—and all different kinds of art. I was always interested in music as a kid, and I started ballet when I was five. When I went to school, I decided that I wanted to pursue graphic design, but that changed a bit when I got to college and tried some new things.
Tell me about that. How did your interests evolve?
For the longest time, I thought graphic design was the path I wanted to pursue. But then in my first semester of college, I took sculpture and ceramics, and they really opened my eyes and convinced me that 3D was what interested me. I learned about different mediums—woodworking, metalworking, moldmaking … paper-mache even. All of those things helped me realize I want to work with my hands and I want to be doing something creative.
Artistic passion has always been with you. Any idea where that came from?
It came from my family members. My mom is very artistic, my grandpa was a woodworker, my grandmother on the other side was a painter. Those things left an impression on me. My grandpa made toys for us as kids—rocking horses and trucks and things you could sit on and play with. Grandma every year gave us handmade birthday cards. I was surrounded by it—and it became my chosen activity. If there was a room of things to do, I would be the one at the table with paper and markers.
Let’s try a little rapid-fire questioning to help the reader get to know you …
Oh, man. Okay.
Favorite vacation destination.
Anywhere with mountains, but Alaska probably is my favorite. It is like a whole different environment. When I visited there, the sun was out 22 hours … The wildlife was so different there. The mountains were so cool. There was so much variety and so many different ecosystems within it ...
Thai. That’s my go-to option.
Favorite TV show AND favorite movie.
That '70s Show. That is like my comfort show. I’ve been watching it since I was a kid. Movies? Maybe Mamma Mia! That is my feel-good movie.
Favorite musical artist …
Fleetwood Mac. I like the classic rock stuff.
Give me one crazy fact about you …
I was on a Disney show. It was a snow-sculpting TV show, a holiday special called “Best in Snow.”
Whoa. Now I need to know more.
[Laughing] Snow sculpting is another random thing I do … and I was one of the professional snow sculptors flown out to Keystone, Colorado, to film this show. It was a competition show … There were five teams, with two pros each, and four novices who were competing against each other. Our job was to teach them the art of snow sculpting. We started with this 10-foot-by-10-foot block of snow and sculpted it all into this image of Moana and Te Fiti where they touch heads.
A Disney show is some big-time exposure. Were you getting recognized on the street?
[Chuckling again] No, nothing quite like that. I did get featured in the local newspaper, which was really neat. But no, I don’t think it made me famous or anything.
Still, it’s a pretty cool chapter in your story as an artist. As you dive further into sculpting and that 3D art, what have you learned? What do you love about this kind of work?
I just like the way it allows me to get my thoughts out. In school, I recognized it was an easy medium for me to take what’s in my brain and make it reality. … When I would sketch something, I knew in my head it wasn’t exactly right. But when I put it into sculpture, that is when it really clicked for me. I’ve always kind of been that way—the sort of person who needs to physically do something to learn it rather than reading directions off a piece of paper. I need to be discovering how things work.
From sculpting to woodworking to ceramics, you’ve tried your hand at a variety of different things. Is that variety something you enjoy?
Yes, absolutely. You learn that there are differences with those mediums as well as some similarities. The more you become familiar with them, the more you see there’s a lot they do have in common,. You have to become familiar with the material, and you need to know how it is going to operate when you do a certain thing or act a certain way with it. Ceramics has been my main medium, and it’s often been said that it is a very intimate medium. You are relying on the tactility of your fingertips to tell you what the clay is going to do at any given moment, sort of reading and processing all this new information with each touch you make on the material. That transfers to many different mediums. It is about creating a bond with the material.
You’ve had a lot of success with it already. Can you tell me about your business?
Sure can! I have a business called Artist Rach Ceramics … It began during COVID when there was really nothing else to do. That is when I bought a wheel and developed my studio at home, turning my basement into a work area. Some friends caught wind of my work, started asking me to make them things, and eventually I thought "Why not make this legal and start an official business?" It’s been a fun journey.
What led you here? How did you end up at MC?
McCullough Creative has been on my radar a long time. I learned about the company when I was in college and immediately thought "That is right up my alley. That is something I want to do." I applied right after graduation but was told no, I needed more experience. A couple years later I applied again for a different position at MC, as an account manager, but it wasn’t the right fit. But you know, the third time’s a charm. I recently saw an opening for a fabrication artist and my mom convinced me to send in my resume, just to see what happens. This time I got a call back and was like, "Oh, my God, this is finally happening."
What a journey! You made it.
Yeah, it is exciting. I had heard McCullough Creative is very selective, and I think that is a good thing. A company should be choosy. It’s good that I had to sweat it out a little bit.
You’re nearly a month in now. What are your initial impressions? What made this a place to want to be?
I felt like I connected with the people here really quickly. Everybody here was nice, inviting, and warm. I am just genuinely excited to come to work. I never know what the day is going to look like. That might drive some people crazy, but I love that … I love the opportunity to try something new. I always want to be learning something. I want my growth to be my knowledge. And I feel like this is a place where that will happen.