Rachel Sender illustrates all the lumps and bumps that come with ageing

The Rotterdam-based illustrator’s latest zine explores the relatable journey of warmly accepting our body’s natural transformations.

29 May 2024

There is no turning back time, and as our bodies change and evolve we often have to learn to love them anew. With distortions of forms we were all too used to, shifting and unfamiliar reflections, and maybe even a few more lumps and bumps than we may have bargained for, how our bodies like to evolve is not something that we always have much control over. This vulnerability to the transformations that come with ageing is the subject of illustrator Rachel Sender’s recent poster-zine and series of illustrated works Lumps and Bumps, in which she tenderly explores age’s touch.

Inspired by her own journey, the collection of drawings (turned Risograph prints) stems from intimate reflections surrounding the changes she’s navigated in her appearance over time. “During my 20s and 30s, I took my youthful looks for granted. The physical changes that happened in my late 30s seemed quite sudden. It made me realise that the appearance I had when I was younger was a big part of my identity,” she tells us. Renegotiating with this part of herself led the illustrator to a sensitive and poetic account of the thoughts that surface when things don’t quite feel the same. As the first line of the publication reads: “I wake up to find this person in the mirror. My body is unfamiliar. It happened quite suddenly. It’s taken a new form”.

GalleryRachel Sender: Lumps and Bumps (Copyright © Rachel Sender, 2023)

The project also led Rachel to create some wonderfully weird and misshapen characters that humorously visualise these confronting reflections and a sense of grief for past appearances. “The series of illustrations for Lumps and Bumps happened quite organically”, she says; beginning as initial sketches and doodles on Procreate, these wobbly, melting characters eventually spilled out onto the pages of her zine in the format of a series of spiral-bound Risograph posters. By constructing the short poem-like text that weaves in and out of the publication’s pages, Rachel realised she wanted to use this series of illustrations alongside her her own words to explain her stories around bodily transformations. With the help of her good friend Will Vincent to fine tune and edit her words the zines text was finalised in what she describes as an “honest, dry, a bit humorous and sometimes nostalgic” tone.

Like many of our personal projects, the publication allowed Rachel the freedom to explore a different kind of visual style to her commercial illustration work and tackle a subject “more intimate and connected to who I am”, she says. It also needed some production perimeters to come to fruition with the help of Riso printer Teuntje Fleur and screen printer Michael van Kekem. It was the decision to print with Risograph that allowed Rachel to “create a visually coherent series”, through the blue and orange duotone that defines the zines visuals. The subtle shifts and imperfections of this print process, that naturally create uneven overlaid tones and trapped lines, is something that only adds to the charm of her ‘imperfect’ illustrated bodies.

Designed to be somewhat like a mirror, the poster-zine is “intended to be hung on the wall, not only held in your hands [...] it’s sort of a zine-object”, Rachel says. In this way, the illustrator hopes that others see themselves reflected in it, and try to embrace their bodies as they “naturally change and warp over time”. After all, “the present is the youngest we will ever be”, she says, and “there are plenty more lumps and bumps to come”.

GalleryRachel Sender: Lumps and Bumps (Copyright © Rachel Sender, 2023)


Rachel Sender: Sketches for Lumps and Bumps (Copyright © Rachel Sender, 2023)

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Rachel Sender: Lumps and Bumps (Copyright © Rachel Sender, 2023)

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About the Author

Ellis Tree

Ellis Tree (she/her) joined It’s Nice That as a junior writer in April 2024 after graduating from Kingston School of Art with a degree in Graphic Design. Across her research, writing and visual work she has a particular interest in printmaking, self-publishing and expanded approaches to photography.

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