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Howard University Student Dominates the Digital Illustration World

Pental, NBA Allstar weekend 2021, Coach, Nike Yardrunners and ESPN are just a few of the brands Rachel Motley partners with.

Rachel Motley is celebrating her 21st birthday and hitting 12k followers in New York City. 

Pental, NBA Allstar weekend 2021, Coach, Nike Yardrunners and ESPN are just a few of the brands Rachel Motley partners with. Known for her vibrant and colorful artwork, the Howard University student has no limitations to what she can do. 

During the pandemic, Rachel Motley recalls painting as being her escape from what she was going through. Coming to Howard as a graphic design major, she soon began to see her career change after one viral post. 

“One of my paintings went viral on Twitter and people were like I would love to buy one, so I turned it into a print and digitally illustrated it, and from there I have been doing digital illustration on a more consistent basis” Motley said. 

Known for creating an NBA All-Star Weekend promo, Rachel paid tribute to the union of universities that produces 20 percent of African American graduates. 

“It was a part of the NBA HBCU showcase so it was shown on the jumbotron and printed on posters around the stadium so that was super cool. It was a way to showcase what it meant to attend and have HBCU pride,” Motley said. 

Sitting on the top of the world is a Black man with a huge afro. Inside the afro are various items that represent the HBCU culture. Political Science senior Tytiana Curtain expresses what the NBA Allstar painting meant to her. “I like how she was able to capture the HBCU experience in one piece while also showing Black people are not a monolith, and it also shows how HBCUs prepare students for the real world,” said Curtain. 

Rachel Motley’s NBA HBCU showcase submission 

With many entrepreneurs attending Howard, it can be intimidating taking the first step to starting a business. Rachel gave the Hilltop two special insider tips to help entrepreneurs take that first step. 

“The first step I would recommend is thinking about what you would create as your optimal self if you had no limitations or boundaries. I would push people to step back into this mindset where we have childlike imagination,” Motley said. 

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“My second step is to go for it. It may not be the outcome that you want, but that is ok you are going to learn from it and that is the most important thing,” she continued.

Rachel then goes on to say that the only thing that can hold you back is yourself. Just starting digital illustration she has learned a lot in just over a few months. Even though she has several collaborations already, she is not stopping yet.

The hard-working digital illustrator says that she has more projects up her sleeve with the opportunity for fans of her work to meet her at an upcoming event. She will be selling her famous “protect black woman” stickers with other prints. 

To keep up with Rachel on Instagram, follow her @therealrjm. To see more of her prints and what she offers visit the following website:

Copy edited by Jasper Smith

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