Small Spells

May 14, 2018

Rachel Howe is an artist and healer based in Los Angeles. She runs Small Spells, providing inspiration and healing through tarot readings and reiki sessions, as well as regular astrology posts and channeled messages on her Instagram feed. Her work empowering others to find their way to healing also takes the form of teaching workshops on tarot and accessing intuition. Her drawings find their way onto various products like t-shirts, books, and a self-produced tarot deck. Reaching a broad audience through her illustrations that embrace mysticism while staying firmly rooted in the culture of modern design – drawing on the imagery of cartoons, tattoos, handmade illustrations and low-fi graphic design, Rachel has found a voice that is both accessible and aspirational.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. I work as an artist (illustrator and hand poke tattooer) and healer (tarot, astrology and energy work). I try to combine these two as much as possible, as in the tarot deck that I designed and self-published in 2016.

How did your interest in your work begin? I’ve always been interested in the mystical side of things my whole life, but my interest became more of a bigger part of my life once I began learning how to do reiki, which is energy healing work. That opened up some kind of door for me and I then got into tarot and astrology, and working with plant medicine and exploring deeper ideas of perception. And then incorporating my art as a physical expression of everything I was opening up to. I’ve made art my whole life and it’s really nice to finally feel like it has a definitive purpose and function now, as illustrating my spiritual concepts, thoughts and ideas, rather than searching for a place where it makes sense.

What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? I’ve been really looking at a lot of psychedelic works — writing and art coming out of interacting with spirituality via visionary experiences. I’ve been learning a lot about herbalism and plant medicine, which has been influencing how I view and represent human perception. Re-visiting a lot of hippie concepts that I used to really reject and be turned off to, but altering them so they fit my aesthetic.

What is it like living and working in Los Angeles? It’s crazy living here, after spending my whole life on the east coast, mostly in New York City. LA is so beautiful and the land has a really intense energy that is palpable. I’m still figuring out how people function out here, everyone is very much in their own bubble, which can be helpful or isolating, depending on the day. I think NYC is almost the opposite, where the people are really intense but the land is so built over you can barely feel it. Right now I need that connection to the land, so I’m loving it out here. There’s so much space, which for me translates to opportunity and expansion.

What are some recent, upcoming, or current projects you are working on? I’m working on a new type of divination deck, with illustrations and writing, and also on a book. Or many books, I have a few ideas of possible book projects, some writing focused, some with illustration incorporated too. I also have ideas of more products to design and make. I really like using the T-shirt as a way to be a walking billboard to proclaim ideas or a stance on something, but in a fun way.

What is your absolute favorite place in the world to be? Alone with nature.

How did you first connect with our friend Clay Hickson to work on The Smudge? I knew of Clay’s work for a while, and admired it, but we also have a friend in common, so we ended up at a wedding weekend together and got to become friends. He had published a book of drawings for me in 2015 (and we just put out another one) and so when he asked me to write horoscopes for The Smudge of course I said yes.

Can you share one of the best or worst reactions you have gotten as a result of your work? It’s really meaningful to me when people share that my words and art have helped guide them through a hard time, or have helped to expand their life experience. Multiple people have told me that I’ve acted as a compass for them, which is so nice, and what I’m hoping my affect is on people. Not to tell them what to do, but to just point them in a direction, assisting them towards figuring it out themselves.

Who would you ideally like to collaborate with? Oh man, anyone! Everyone! A child or an elderly person would be cool to work with.

What are you really excited about right now? I’m still really excited about living in a new place. And I’m really excited about what growth is possible for me here. I have some expansion plans for the next couple of years, ways to coalesce everything I do together into a more cohesive package.

What are you reading right now? I finally got a library card here in LA! I generally come home from the library with a mix of spiritual/new age books and social justice books.