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Q&A with Rachael Burns

Software developer at Hello TOTEM Ltd.

Hi, my name is Rachael and i’m a software developer. I spend my time tech dabbling and making playful interactive software for the cultural sector. I develop programs predominantly for museums and galleries as well as online tools and products for TOTEM, my company.

How did you get started?

My degree began in Advertising; I was a copywriter but changed courses in my second year to multimedia design after taking an elective course in programming and falling in love with it. When I graduated I went straight into a production house as a interactive developer working on museum software full time. I went on to work for myself about 8 years ago and now I work with my business partner, creative director James Gilbert as TOTEM making site specific software, and handling experiential and interaction design.

What tools and software do you use for your work?

A MacBook Pro is the only hardware I really need. I live in Sublime Text/Terminal/Sequel Pro but we have Adobe Creative Cloud + Sketch for all design work. I bullet journal every day - it helps get all those nagging thoughts out of my brain so I can focus on the day’s tasks (and helps me sleep at night).

What are you working on now?

A few things at once, as per usual! The project we’ve started most recently is for Battersea Arts Centre. We’re making a site specific electronics/software interaction piece for visitors to learn about the archive in quite a fun way!

What is your ideal work environment?

I love working on a laptop at a huge table. The bigger the better, if you can fit some other collaborators around it while still having loads of room that’s a win for me. A place where I can spread all my notes out, have a cafetierre set up and a huge pad for scribbling on. Open plan spaces with natural light, I hate feeling hemmed in.

Rachael Burns

Where are your favourite places for art? 

I live in Manchester, UK. There’s a bustling underground art scene here and we have exhibitions opening most weeks. I run so I regularly research up and coming exhibitions. This means I have a really good handle of what’s going on, and my cultural diary is always packed. There’s too many to mention but I love exhibitions that mix media and a range of artists with different skills. A multi disciplinary art show would always be something I would visit.

Who are the designers, artists you admire most?

Wow, this is a hard question, there’s obviously way too many to mention, so i’ll just stick to digital artists and technologists. I love the digital work my friend Elliot Woods is doing at Kimchi + Chips in Seoul. Matt Pyke at Universal Everything has long been a hero of mine. Dan Hett is regularly blowing my mind with his hardware/software creations. He’s so prolific and it’s really inspiring.