Rachel Ignotofsky is a New York Times Best Selling author and illustrator whose work highlights the incredible scientific achievements of prominent women in history. Get to know what inspires her, and how she’s using her talents to reshape the way we view women in traditionally male-dominated fields.
My first job ever was… I answered the phone for an amazing woman named Terry, who ran the continuing education program at my college. She is literally the sweetest woman in the world, even when I showed up the first day in pajamas like a dumb kid.
I decided to become an illustrator and author because… I always wanted to be an illustrator, but I decided to become an author because i think educations is incredibly important. Whether you are a kid or an adult you need to understand the world around you to make informed decisions. That’s why I use my illustrations to promote scientific literacy and teach history, especially around women’s issues.
My proudest accomplishment is… My first book: Women in Science. It is literally a dream come true times infinity to be published.
I surprise people when I tell them… That I just learned to ride a bike.
My best advice to people launching a creative pursuit is… Work on your passion projects every day and make sure they are visible online.
My best advice from a mentor was… Never freelance for free. Always work for competitive pay and that leads to more work that pays competitively. “Exposure” does not pay the bills.
My biggest setback was… Figuring out how to be my own boss when I first quit my 9-5 job. You know you have work but you kinda feel like you’re floating in the ocean at first.
I overcame it by… Becoming the queen of calendars. I have three paper calendars and two day planners keeping me on track at all times. I set benchmarks for the year, then each month, week and day to keep me on track with large projects and personal goals.
Work/life balance is… My work is my life. I truly love what I do. Left to my own devices it is all I think about, but I keep myself in check with my day planner. It is all about those daily goals. Once I have everything on my list done I am done for the day. That way you stay fresh.
If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know… How messy my desk is. It is natural disaster level messy.
I stay inspired by… For my book it is the stories of the women in them. Just learning about their lives, their raw passion and everything they had to overcome to contribute to science — it is truly inspiring, and I want to do my small part to have more people learn about them.
The future excites me because… I am excited to see how kids who grew up since birth with the internet take on the world to make it a better place. I feel that these kids are more likely to advocate for themselves and ask questions about the world around them, and aren’t afraid to be themselves.
Women in science are… A part of history. From ancient times to modern day, women have been exploring the world around them and contributing greatly to science. Whether it is Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin discovering that the sun is made up of hydrogen and helium, or Lise Meitner discovering fission (just to name a few), female scientist have changed our world. Although often women have been left out of the history books we are now telling their stories.
My next step is… In March my new journal is coming out called I Love Science filled with scientific reference pages, inspirational quotes, and prompts to encourage you to explore and ask questions about our universe. In July, my next book comes out called Women in Sports: 50 Fearless Athletes Who Played to Win.