Meet Rachel Ortas - Rachel is one of the founders of OKIDO Studio and OKIDO Magazine and is the creator of Messy Monster and Messy goes to OKIDO.
As an artist, author, parent, environmentalist, singer, musician, teacher, chef and all-round adventurer, Rachel knows no limitations on living life to its fullest in the most caring, kind and thoughtful way.
Working with partner Sophie Dauvois PhD; the pair believe that art, environmental, nature, philosophical and scientific topics can be embraced by all children no matter who they are, where they come from or what opportunities they have.
They’ve been doing this together since 2007 and Rachel can now claim the successful publication of her stories and characters in over 90 issues of OKIDO magazine, 78 episodes of Messy goes to OKIDO, countless OKIDO fact books, collaborations with Thames and Hudson, Hato Press and Tate Publishing plus exhibitions of her characters as giant soft sculptures, prints, cards and original artworks at Magma, The Science Museum and smaller, independent galleries and book fairs internationally, including Russia, Paris, Helsinki and Korea.
Rachel’s skill at creating stories and characters for children stems from her absolute belief that children are capable of deep and philosophical thought, reasoning and understanding, and that all children are equal and deserve to be given the best quality products, stories and opportunities.
Rachel started her artistic practice with silk screen printing, producing cards, prints and handmade books and all of these always included characters - mostly monsters. The monsters Rachel creates are always sweet, quite childish, often cheeky but can sometimes have a bit of an edge - just like children! When completing her MA Rachel created a character called Aiai and after this, Messy Monster was born - the perfect monster companion, upon which any child can blame their mishaps. “Where are your socks?” “Oh, Messy Monster must have eaten them!” Why is your room so messy?” “Oh it must have been Messy Monster!”
All these wonderful monsters are inspired by Rachel’s childhood and from all the adults and children that she meets and knows. In her childhood Rachel was lost in picture books and - being dyslexic - didn’t really discover the stories behind the pictures until she was about 12, when she dived straight into adult fiction. Rachel’s favourite, inspirational stories come from Studio Ghibli, Philip Pullman, The Moomins and Barbapapa and she recommends these to any readers who may not yet have discovered them.
Rachel writes, draws and creates everyday - What’s she working on now? Well, some stories about magic and some interactive stories where the reader can include their own name and pronoun and you can bet - like everything that Rachel produces - they will touch on philosophy, be full of humour and crammed full of monsters.
Oh and if there’s anything that Rachel loves more than monsters - it’s hearing from children so if you have any feedback or questions about any of her stories, just get in touch!
Beautifully crafted with a new topic to explore every month, OKIDO is the arts and science magazine for children. Find out more here.