Ivona and me, we go way back. And accordingly, Ivona has been making me do an interview for c.o.w. for ages and I would always procrastinate it, that is until I met Rita a year ago on her visit to Zagreb, Croatia. Originally from Porto, Portugal, but she used to study in Ljubljana, Slovenia and that’s how we got to hang out. Once I got to meet her, there were exactly 5 things that made me knew we’d stay in touch and probably do something together. The 5 things included the following, in no particular order: Gorilla Biscuits t-shirt, Bikini Kill, Sleater-Kinney, Lifetime and Descendents. Rita is, among many other things, a punk rock kid, fanzine writer, music lover, illustrator and graphic designer and her art represents everything I love: do it yourself, counterculture, punk-rock, making mistakes and passion. She held an exhibition of her work recently, titled “I heard she’s a little hardcore” in Portugal so I figured it was about time to engage into a conversation with her. I decided to keep it simple and up to the point because her illustrations speak more than words could ever do her justice.
Hi Rita, could you please introduce yourself and tell me more about things you’re passionate about.
Howdy! I am a 23 years old kid living in black hole called Águas Santas (holy waters, in english), a small town ten minutes from Oporto’s downtown, in Portugal. I love to draw, sun, toasting on the beach, traveling, positivity, punk-rock, I have an inherent talent to irritate people and I love it. That's pretty much it.
You have recently held an exhibition…how did it go? Tell me more about the whole concept and why it was different from the usual exhibitions.
I got this opportunity through a competition promoted by colher.net and even thought I cannot say it was what I was expecting, it was a great. I had a few problems with the guys who were running the gallery and (de)organizing the show, but in the end it all came together. Due to being my first solo exhibition there was no concept, it was all about a recently graduated art student, showing what she likes to do. Kind of like when you enter college and you have to do these works introducing yourself to a new class, I wanted to introduce myself to the ‘grown ups’ art world. It was good experience to understand that even in design, illustration (or whatever your field is) there is a scene, and, basically, if you don’t belong you might get yourself into some trouble. So, to all the kids with anti-social behaviors: make sure you show all your teeth next time you hit the streets.Anyway, I like to keep my work fun and pleasant. And I’m pretty surehe worry-free attitude I adopt in my creative process makes people love me or hate me, with no middle term. This was really clear in my exhibition, I saw people having fun and analysing my works for hours, and people that didn’t even pass through the door. And I love both reactions, since both show my work is authentic.
The connection and importance of hardcore and punk rock and counterculture to your art.
We are closely connected in a three-way relationship. When I was 13/14 years old I started listening to Bikini Kill, Dominatrix and other Riot Grrrl bands thanks to my older sister. Then I really got into all the culture and philosophy beyond punk, hardcore, riot grrrl, etc. From that to having my own DIY label, putting on small concerts and making fanzines was a small step. I was always making flyers, t-shirts, basically, anything people would ask me to. I’ve learned a lot with all this and my work came as a natural result of all these influences. An unpleasantly pleasant mixture between Punk, love for chaos, being politically incorrect, refusing traditional canons, sarcasm, D.I.Y ethics, spontaneity, and a positive mental attitude.
- Where do you get ideas from? How does this process go? How did you start in the first place?
- It depends, I have most of my ideas when I’m walking or jogging alone with my headphones on. This might sound cheesy, but it’s true. There’s
Would you ever be interested in doing art not connected to the punk and hardcore background?
Yes, of course. I have to if I want to make some money. I can count on the fingers of one hand the times I was paid from a punk or hardcore related project. For example, during the last two months of 2010 I worked in a campaign for Delta (portuguese coffee brand), customizing coffee machines. I had to draw everything I hate to. From landscapes of Oporto’s famous bridges to classic portraits and football teams’ logos, I had to draw what costumers asked me to. I was always cranky when drawing those sad, grey landscapes, but now that I think about it, it was kind of funny and, in the end, I learned a lot. It’s important to embrace every challenge particularly if you have to step out of your comfort zone.
Current playlist, favourite shows in 2010, favourite records, favourite bands…anything you like to list basically…. lists are awesome.
I've been listening to Heathers, Title Fight, The Roman Line, Spraynard,Osker, Scala And Kolacny Brothers, The Ataris and Lifetime (getting in the summer mood), some American War and, last but not least, RVIVR because it's the best thing that happened to this world in the last few years. Oh, and Red City Radio’s amazing new album. Right now, I’m listening to The 255s.Favourite shows in 2010 were: Joey Cape + Tony Sly + Jon Snodgrass at Orto Bar, Ljubljana (I don’t even appreciate Lagwagon or No Fun At All that much, but this was my first show in Slovenia and I remember spending 20% of the time smiling and the other 80 % of it singing along while smiling. Plus, Jon Snodgrass brings high awesomeness factor to everything he is in.); The Get Up Kids at Sala Live, Madrid; Celeste at Tovarna Rog, Ljubljana; Nothington at AKC Medika, Zagreb; Bridge And Tunnel + Young Livers at Tovarna Rog, Ljubljana; Wolf Parade at Menza pri koritu, Ljubljana; uh, not to talk about Angry Samoans and Boom Boom Kid, two bands I had never expect to see live.
Bouncing Souls are definitely one of the most inspiring bands. As well as Kid Dynamite, Descendents, Lifetime, Bikini Kill, Paint It Black, Frank Turner, The Loved Ones, Antillectual, The Ergs!, 7 Seconds, Lemuria, Black Flag, I could go on forever… as I said before, I fall in love for music / bands really easily. Some of my favorite album s (besides almost everything from the bands I’ve mentioned above) are: We Don’t Stand a Chance (AM Taxi), Buried In Pockets (The Riot Before), Don’t Get Bore (Smiley Kids), So Jelous (Tegan & Sara), Zootic/Sannyasin split CD, Outlaw Anthem (Blood For Blood), The Rebel Sound Of Shit And Failure (Born Against), Your Favorite Weapon (Brand New), Se Julgar Incapaz Foi o Maior Erro Que Cometeu (Bulimia), Failures S/T ep, and, once again, I could go on for hours. There’s too many shit to mention and I feel bad because I’m sure I’m forgetting about some of my most beloved bands.
Are there any contemporary or classic artists you like? Anyone that inspires you or anyone you look up to for a certain reason?
I do appreciate Egon Schiele, Gustav Klint, (some) Pablo Picasso’s paintings, Edvard Munch, Albrecht Dürer, Francisco Goya, you know, all the great painters you have to study when you’re in Art History classes, although these are not really examples of Classic Art. I remember falling in love with Dadaism and Situationism at first sight, and also with Jean-Michel Basquiat, of course.
I like people who are not afraid to question or break with tradition. Stefan Sagmeister, Kerri Smith, Guerrilla Girls, Barbara Kruger, Harmony Korine, Banksy, Mike Mills, David Shringley, Raymond Pettibon are some of my most obvious references. But I normally look up more to people from other fields, for example, Henry Rollins, Frank Turner and José Mourinho (ahah). There’s an inspiring person and attitude in every corner.
What does being a punk rock kid mean to you? What does it represent to you?
It’s not visual or superficial, it’s something I grew up with and, most important, it has nothing to do with my ‘’anti-everything’’ attitude, that’s a completely different story. It’s about being authentic, learning and dreaming everyday, being passionate and positive, listening to DING and to Paint It Black when things are getting rough, giving my better self to the ones who deserve it, singing along with your favorite bands, doing things yourself, believing that nothing is impossible and having that extra fire and passion in your heart that keeps you alive and well. Knowing that happiness is yours to find and it doesn’t even matter if you find it, as long as you had fun on the process. There’s a world to explore, and, to me, punk is all about that. Searching and exploring. It is about you and your attitude towards life, it’s about empowering yourself and it is only dead if you are.
You’re doing a fanzine as well. How does it look, what is the story behind it and what is it about?
I did a fanzine called “1 - Fix It”, one year ago, after being let down by someone I used to trust with all my heart, mind and soul. It’s about fixing yourself up. I based all the process in a quote a wise man once said: “Scar tissue is stronger than regular tissue. Realize the strength, move on.” It’s a mix of positive and negative feelings, a happy compilation of draws, photos and things that made my life special and unique, even when living in complete illusion. Right now, I’m working on a second (and much better) one, since ‘’1 - Fix it’’ doesn’t make any sense to me anymore.
What are your plans for this year?
Many! The biggest one is getting out of Portugal. Besides that, I have new ideas everyday. I’m planning new fanzines and t-shirts, I want to exhibit my work outside of Portugal (I’m planning something in Paris, already, but I want more!), I’m working on some artworks for Grave Skateboards, I want to start spreading my art to the streets, I want to go to Finland to visit the girl I miss the most in this life, I want to hang out with all the Slovenian and Croatian people I met last year, plus, I am always fantasizing about doing a European tour with other artists. I think about this consistently, one of these days I’ll stop thinking and start planning/doing it. I also want to throw a huge punk-rock party featuring good music, sun, veggie food, art and workshops. Let’s see!
Any interesting bands, fanzines, art you want to share with us?
You should listen to Antillectual, feel Tadej’s radness, get a tattoo with the Bad Ink guys, read Andrea’s blog religiously, check my sister’s blog if you’re into fashion, watch Happythankyoumoreplease and keep in mind that I’m a genius.
Rita, thank you for your time and if you guys are interested in checking out more, here it goes: