Artist of the Week

Artist of the week – Rachel List

Artist of the week - Rachel List


Hi there and welcome to this week’s very special Guest Artist Of The Week

Rachel List

Well, we’ve been running for a few weeks now and I thought it was time to introduce our first Guest Artist Of The Week.

This extraordinarily talented muralist hit the headlines in a roundabout sort of way. A mural she had painted to celebrate our NHS heroes in her home town of Pontefract went viral overnight. Unfortunately, a lot of people credited her work to the infamous but anonymous street artist known as Banksy.

The first time I saw a post sharing the image with the hashtag #banksy I knew it wasn’t his work so I set out to find the artist and made it a bit of a mission to make sure that everyone knew who the real artist was.

Fast forward a couple of months and I find myself in my kitchen having a video chat with the lovely and remarkably talented Rachel List, aka The Girl Who Did The Thing aka RadGurlToTheRescue.

You can find her Facebook page by clicking here

or follow TheGirlWhoDidTheThing on Twitter.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

So Rachel, tell me a bit about yourself

Hi Tom, well, I live in Pontefract in West Yorkshire, I’m married to Adam, I have a three year old daughter and I’m a self employed artist. I normally paint murals, predominantly kids bedrooms, or murals for businesses, restaurants that sort of thing. I don’t usually take on outdoor work because of the great British weather but lockdown has led me into doing more work in people’s gardens and outside spaces. You have to adapt to survive.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]

What did you do before you became a professional artist?

There’s never really been a time that I wasn’t an artist. I did a degree in fine art at Leeds Metropolitan University. After I left uni I got an apprenticeship as a tattoo artist and worked as a tattooist for about four years. I started doing murals because, as an apprentice you don’t really get paid and, to be honest, I needed the money. Eventually I made the choice to go down the route of being a mural artist full time. Tattoos are so popular now and there are so many great tattooists I didn’t want to be just one of many great tattoo artists. I wanted to be THE best mural artist.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”6081″ img_size=”medium”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

What inspired you to become an artist in the first place?

I just think you’re born that way. I think all children are artists. There’s a point when we seem to be encouraged to grow out of it and the people who don’t, they’re the true artists. I remember my school report saying “Rachel does not seem to care about her French education. Instead she prefers to doodle on the skin of other students.” I just think it’s something that’s a part of you and there was never a choice for me to be anything else.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”6082″ img_size=”medium” add_caption=”yes”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]

Your NHS mural has become iconic. Has your life changed since it hit the headlines?

Definitely. It’s a great platform for being able to help other people. I’ve raised money for Prince of Wales Hospice and auctioned some paintings to raise money for the NHS. The first painting sold for £1500 and there’s another auction coming up so hopefully that’ll raise even more. We’ve also got mugs for sale with all the profits going to the NHS. They’re selling for £10 and, so far, we’ve sold 400 of them! 

I get recognised a lot round Pontefract now. People will have seen my picture in the paper and say ‘Hi’ or wave. The other day I was out for my daily exercise and I walked past an Indian restaurant. The owner was standing outside and he said “I know you.” I automatically thought he was going to ask me about my painting and ask for a selfie. Then he said “You always order the lamb.”

Haha! I’m so glad I didn’t go all diva on him![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]

Your Twitter handle is “TheGirlWhoDidTheThing” but people who know your work love it all. Does it grate being known for one particular piece

I suppose you can’t have it both ways. As long as people know me I’m happy. If I’d known that that particular mural would be what it became I might have done things differently. It’s not my favourite piece, to be fair, but as long as people understand the message behind it that’s what’s important. 

I had to create the Twitter handle when my work was trending as Banksy. I’d understand it more if my work was anything like Banksy’s but it’s not. I’m a muralist, I don’t see myself as a street artist or a graffiti artist. That’s the one thing I worried about at the time. I thought people would think I was an imposter trying to pass myself off as a graffiti artist but that couldn’t be further from the truth.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”6084″ img_size=”medium” add_caption=”yes”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

You’ve said that your art is exclusive to Pontefract but after people credited your work to Banksy, have you thought about a trip to Bristol to get your own back and do something in his backyard?

Ha! If someone could tell me where his actual backyard is I’ll do it for sure![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”6085″ img_size=”medium” add_caption=”yes”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]

Has art helped you and your daughter Coraline cope with lockdown?

I’m extremely lucky in that my daughter doesn’t care about lockdown. She thinks lockdown’s great because she has both her parents home all the time. I see all these posts where kids are going out and looking at my paintings but my daughter just doesn’t care about my art at all. I’m glad it’s helped other people though.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

What’s the art scene like in Yorkshire right now?

In our area in particular it’s thriving. Art from everyone, not just professional artists. I love all the rainbow pictures that the kids have been doing. The village next to mine has a scarecrow festival and some of them are amazing. One or two have even painted my art on them! As I said before everybody has an artistic side within them. Right now people have time to stop and think about it and feel they have the time to let their artistic side shine through. Hopefully, we’ll all come out of this with a new appreciation of the arts.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Is your family artistic?

My mum writes but my dad isn’t creative. I have a twin sister and she’s really not artistic at all which surprises a lot of people. Two of my other sisters can draw a bit but they left it behind when they got grown up jobs. Then there’s me, I never got a grown up job.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”6087″ img_size=”medium” add_caption=”yes”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]

Who is your favourite artist?

That’s a really easy one. Frida Kahlo. I like to see the story of who the artist is showing in their work. Frida Kahlo is an inspiration. When she was about 18 she was on a bus on the way home from school that was hit by a trolley car. She broke her spine in the crash, as well as her collar bone, her pelvis, a dislocated foot and eleven fractures in her legs. She was even impaled by an iron handrail! She had thirty five operations and was in a full body cast for months. Rather than give up, she used that time to paint the cast. She found a way to produce something amazing even in the most difficult of circumstances. 

And I really like her eyebrows![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]

What’s your favourite piece of your own work?

That’s so hard because I’ve done thousands of paintings but of the pieces I’ve done during lockdown I’d have to go for the eye that’s crying rainbow tears. I’ve always had a thing for eyes. In school, when I was supposed to be taking notes, I’d be doodling eyeballs.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”6089″ img_size=”medium” add_caption=”yes”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

What advice would you give to someone just starting out as a professional artist?

It requires a lot of self belief. There will always be people who tell you that you have to get a “proper job”. Likewise, there’ll always be people who will try to convince you that they don’t need to pay you because what they want you to do is “great exposure”. It’ll probably be a long time before you start making a real income but the best advice is keep at it and don’t give up.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Would you be interested in LA&C’s mentoring scheme?

Absolutely, I think it’s a great idea. After all, there’s someone who knows more than you do, whoever you are![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]

Well that’s it for this week!

Thank you so much to Rachel for taking the time to talk to me, it was great fun.

If you’d like to get your hands on some merch, Rachel is selling these t-shirts and baseball caps featuring the NHS Superheroes artwork and Rachel’s signature. All profits will go to the NHS.

Preorder now by clicking here[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”6091″ img_size=”medium” add_caption=”yes”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]If you’d like to be featured in our Artist Of The Week Blog please feel free to drop me a line at

and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and join our Facebook group here.

Look out for our next Online Art and Craft Fair coming soon, all details in the FB group and please come and browse the site at to see what all our amazing artists and crafters have for sale. All money from sales goes direct to our artists with no selling fees or subscriptions so grab yourself a unique gift, made locally here in the UK and support your local art scene.

Cheerio for now



About TJ

Tom is an Artist and Designer and our Art and Media Director. He supports causes such as "Drop scones not bombs" and "Cornwall for jam first!".

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