As part of our ongoing 'Freelancer Spotlight' series, we talk to Rhea Thierstein - a freelance artist and set designer. If you are self-employed and would like to take part in 'Freelancer Spotlight', email us on

Rhea Thierstein freelance artist and set designer

Q1: Tell us a bit about what you do?

It’s very hard to define what I do. I’m an artist and set designer who creates and designs pieces ranging from tiny to vast. I love incorporating story telling and playing with the unexpected. My work spans across hand crafted paper insects, fashion shoots, artist windows for brands such as Hermes and Selfridges as well as working with the Natural History Museum and the V&A.

Q2: How long have you been self-employed?

15 years.

Q3: Why did you choose to become a freelancer/self-employed?

It was the only way to pick up assisting work, experience the industry and work with people who I admired. There are rarely employed places as the nature of the industry is quite intermittent and individual projects need different skills and abilities.

Q4: Can we see some examples of your work?

You can see some of my work below:

Rhea Thierstein Hermes set design
Photography by Andrew Meredith
Rhea Thierstein Selfridges set design
Photography by Andrew Meredith

Q5: How has the coronavirus pandemic affected you and your business?

Everything stopped. All of my work was cancelled and I almost had to start from scratch again thinking how to grow within these times. It’s opened up some opportunities that wouldn’t have been possible before, which has been really exciting.

Q6: Where can people go to find out more about you and your services

Q7. Can you tell us a project you are really proud of?

I’m really proud of my Natural History Museum installation I created for their ‘Venom’ Exhibition. The piece illustrated the evolution of venom. I’d always dreamed of working with the museum. It took two years to finally get commissioned to create a piece for them. The best thing about it was that it was an educational piece as well as creative. I met the scientists behind the exhibition, which was fascinating and really inspiring.

Q8. Who would be your dream client?

I would love to work with Kew Gardens or the Eden Project. I’m trying to do more work environmentally focussed, creating awareness and educating. I think for either of these clients you could really embrace the inspiration from them and the briefs would be great to embrace.

Q9.What’s the one piece of advice you would give to an up and coming new freelancer artist?

Try and think outside the box with your approach to make sure you stand out. It’s a long journey to where you want to get to, and it keeps on evolving depending on where you steer it. Small steady steps forward, but if you keep persisting, you will get there.

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