Interview: Rachael Ball

The Brief


Rachael Ball is a cartoonist and teacher. Her illustrations and cartoons have appeared in various publications, including the Times Educational Supplement, Radio Times, and The Graphic Canon of Children’s Literature. Her first graphic novel, The Inflatable Woman, was selected as one of the best graphic books of 2015 by The Guardian.

Which song would you recommend to our readers?
‘Goodbye My Darling’ by Sam Lee. He runs the Nest Collective, which is all about getting young people into folk and world music.

Which work of visual art would you recommend to our readers?
Anything and everything by Louise Bourgeois. She can move me to tears. Her work is grand, tiny, intimate, perverse, and loving.

Which poem would you recommend to our readers?
‘Widening Circles’ by Rainer Maria Rilke: ‘I live my life in widening circles / that reach out across the world.’

Which television episode would you recommend to our readers?
‘Episode 1’ from River, directed by Richard Laxton. I was blown away by the direction and the great use of music – and by Stellan Skarsgård.


The following questions relate to our Perspectives column, in which two writers respond to an artwork that they are experiencing for the first time.

Are artists their own greatest censors?
I know I can be. Censoring is a kind of editing process, isn’t it? We should consider our intentions and remove anything that isn’t ‘true’.

Can we empathise with inanimate objects?
Yes! If moral contagion can cause us to be disgusted by innocent objects, then we should be able to feel sorry for objects too.

[Note: The term ‘moral contagion’ refers to the way in which gaining knowledge about an object can change our response to that object. For example, we may be less likely to wear a cardigan if we believe that its previous owner was a serial killer.]

The art of discovery

The following questions relate to Silent Frame’s aim to celebrate the art of discovery.

Is artistic creativity a private or shared experience?
For me, it’s private. It can be a slow process and I need quiet to be able to listen out for the right word, pace, image.

What does experimentation mean in the twenty-first century?
Experimentation is not always revolutionary. We should all experiment in the medium appropriate to our own lives, be it cooking or singing.

Is all art a form of experimentation?
This comes back to intention. If the artist’s intention is to delude the audience, or if their incentive is purely financial, then no.

What question would you like to ask our other interviewees?
If you were given the material and means to work in a completely different medium, what would you make?

More to discover

Rachael Ball: Visit Rachael Ball's website here for an excerpt and sketches from The Inflatable Woman. Rachael's Twitter handle is @rachaelcartoons.

Rachel Cooke has written about the book for The Guardian, and Alasdair Stuart has interviewed the author for Tor.comThe Inflatable Woman is available to buy online via Bloomsbury.

Today's recommendations: Goodbye My Darling (song), Widening Circles (poem), River (trailer).

Read more: Graphic novels