"Design can be a beautiful thing and I want to do my best to show how good it can be to younger designers"
Italian designer, Raissa Pardini, has moved between countries and creative industries in pursuit of developing her own style of work. Finally settling in Glasgow, Pardini's designs are gracing the covers of records, billboards and books. Her bold, block fonts spin across posters presenting ever-fresh shapes and patterns. With a focus on powerful and purposeful messaging, Pardini discusses with us her journey into design. As well as her motivation behind wanting to create an inviting world for others to learn from.
How were you encouraged/influenced as a child to engage in creativity?
I was an only child for a long time, my sister wasn't born until I was 12. My parents were really young when they had me and I think my creativity has a lot to do with that. I was a free kid who had a lot of time for myself. I could spend hours trying to figure out how a toy was built and my parents let me be. Having to be with myself a lot, I think I developed an imagination that allowed me to have virtual friends and imaginary worlds. I still remember how I'd talk to myself some times, playing different parts and characters from stories I would create.
I also come from a part of Italy that is full of art history, practically on my doorstep. I think even the fact that I’m from a Catholic family somehow made me wonder how churches were built, how people lived in the past. I found paintings from the Renaissance and the Middle Ages the most interesting of all; inspired by the Bible, they're very dramatic and made by extremely talented painters.
What has been your journey into design, and what experiences have shaped the
decisions you now make?
Design hasn’t been an easy journey for me. I knew I would end up where I am now but it's taken a lot of sacrifices and time. But more than anything, it's been about getting to know myself better. The good and bad aspects. I studied design during college then moved to Milan where I did my degree in Graphic Design and Visual Arts. But Milan is deeply involved in fashion and I couldn’t see myself working there. I wanted to find something more suitable for me so I moved to Berlin and started my first studio experience.
A few things went wrong, I changed my mind and moved again - this time to London. I found that competition was high in London and I wasn’t ready to fish for work. That’s when my passion for music took over and I left design on the side for a while. I let myself express my creativity through music and looking back, I know that’s how life had to go. It’s only been two years since I decided to move to Glasgow, find a decent space, and go freelance. That was the best thing that could have happened to my creativity.
You're known for pushing yourself in your work, and not wanting to "create safe artwork with an average design statement". Could you tell us what you see as safe artwork, and how your approach to creating has shaped your career?
Working safely is when you do to pay your bills. Which is definitely a good point and I’ve got nothing against it. Though I can’t work like that. I’m very much a take it or leave it person. I wouldn’t be a designer if I couldn’t work on these terms. I worked hard to develop a certain style and appeal to certain industries. I’m interested in pushing creativity to a space that isn’t so “safe” because I give everything I have when I design.
You have worked on projects which have a strong message of redefining language
(VANS w/ Cobolt and KK Outlet, It’s Okay To Be Upset). Could you tell us your thoughts on the power of language and what you hope to inspire in your work?
I’m interested in working with these brands because they are listening to my ideas and we try to make the best work we can together. There are a lot of companies that want to invest in doing the right thing right now. But there are many different ways of designing the same project and some are wrong. I need to make sure I’ll be fighting against creating the wrong kind of content and sending the wrong messages. It’d be such a shame to use big platforms for something that doesn’t help us to progress - however small that progress may be.
I’d like to know your thoughts on how design impacts our idea of masculinity and
femininity. For example, many brands/ media campaigns will cover something in pink to “appeal” to a female market. What are your opinions on this?
As a designer, I feel that it’s my responsibility to avoid these stereotypes by trying to build a neutral platform. It’s really important that we understand, define, and talk about the impact. Sharing feeds or being against these stereotypes is not enough, not anymore. We really need to be more active.
I want people to recognise the talent of Glaswegian designers to encourage others to come and check the city out.
You’ve opened your own Studio in Glasgow - could you tell us what motivated you to open the space, and what you hope to encourage amongst the creative community of your city?
I wanted to create a hub for students to come in and learn while they were still at Uni. I want to build a new way of working with them before they finish the course and try to avoid internships. That’s why I opened the studio in the first place. Unfortunately, with the virus still kicking hard, the plan will need to be introduced a little later. There isn’t a design community in Glasgow that's willing to launch this city into different creative platforms with pride. I want people to recognise the talent of Glaswegian designers to encourage others to come and check the city out.
The hugely successful Group Font project you launched is donating all profits to a
variety of charities. What have you learnt from leading this project?
The design community is thriving internationally but we are lacking in building our own local communities. Seeing so many artists from all over the world get together for GROUP was an incredible experience. I wish we could take that power and transform it into something locally. I think now more than ever, we need to collaborate and have each other's back. Competition put me off design for so many years, but it’s the wrong side of the design community. Design can be a beautiful thing and I want to do my best to show how good it can be to younger designers.