“I won an art competition in nursery school at the age of three and it started from there,” explains Rachel Bungey, a Tokyo-based artist and designer from London. Having taken to art at an extraordinarily young age, Rachel has now gone on to work for independent record labels XL Recordings and Young Turks, and has dabbled in various freelance projects for clients such as Adidas, Puma, Sony Music and Universal Music. Her portfolio is broad yet direct – channelling her experiences from travelling and her strong interests in music, nature and contemporary culture.
Though always stunningly creative, her path into design officially arose after graduating from graphic design at Nottingham Trent. “I exhibited at D&AD’s New Blood exhibition where I met Phil Lee, former creative director at XL Recordings,” she tells It’s Nice That. “I then ended up working there for five years as a creative. It was an amazing place to work but I had an itch to go and find inspiration elsewhere. Richard Russell, producer and owner of XL Recordings, once said the thing that feels really scary is probably the thing you should do, so I moved to Tokyo and I am now working on my own creative practice.”
Inspired by the unknown and somewhat terrifying, Rachel took the plunge into new territories. She visited the city she now calls home four years ago, but it was the urban and rural landscape of Japan that brought her back at the beginning of this year. “I knew I wanted some proper time here,” she says. “There’s a lot of great exhibitions, creative spaces and club nights in Tokyo. Having trained in graphic design and learning Hiragana and Katakana (the Japanese alphabet) has been really interesting and I’ve just starting trying to learn Kanji symbols, but it feels very daunting.”
By immersing herself fully into the culture and language of Tokyo, this enabled her design practice to blossom. A usual day for Rachel begins with drawing, “which tends to always be abstract and whatever is in my brain”, she says. “I try not to think about it or analyse it; I find this helps to loosen up my creative process throughout the day.” Then, alongside reading articles on the topic of innovations in science, or even a good art book, she will turn to music as her weapon – a good playlist or a new album is key to sparking her creativity. “Music is everything in my work,” she says, “I love working with musicians.”
Nines, King Krule, Overmono, Nao and Jai Paul are among those that she’s been “lucky to work with”. Drawn in by their playful and inspiring creative process, she finds that these musicians tend to influence her own work, too. “And there’s nothing like a good club night, party or a festival to get you inspirited,” Rachel adds. “As my practice develops, I find more and more inspiration through nature.” She points towards sculpture as one of her main environmental sources, with places such as Naoshima and Teshima in Japan proving to be huge catalysts for her work. “I think nature is the best place for reflection and I would love to create work that could be viewed in a natural setting one day.”
Since moving to Tokyo, Rachel has been immensely proactive. Three weeks in, she launched an exhibition in which she showcased layered paintings, 3D pieces and prints all inspired by the shapes she found in the city. “My inspiration came from signage and symbols I found – the subway, architecture and road signs were a big influence,” she says. “It was quite challenging having to create while being amongst the madness of navigating a new city, a new language and trying to find a place to live. But it was an interesting experience and it helped me to learn about the process of putting on an exhibition – I hope to do more.”