Meet the nostalgic ‘costumbrista’ millennial art of Raquel Go
22 March 2023
Raquel Go combines her job as a textile graphic designer with exploring other artistic avenues which give her a stronger sense of fulfillment. Her work, where she highlights a reinterpretation of still life, is filled with elements of her personal life, simultaneously serving the artist as therapy. Despite being somewhat autobiographical in nature, her art connects with ease with that generation born between the 80s and 90s, the generation of Internet, Whatsapp and all those counter cultural references in music, literature and aesthetics. Due to the musical influences and political principles reflected in her work, she couldn’t not be in La Colectiva. Learn more about Raquel’s nostalgia-infused millennial art and genre paintings in this interview.
Raquel Go photo

Hi Raquel, I’m pleased to be able to chat with you! I’m a big fan of your work. Since we don’t know each other I’ll take the opportunity to ask you something cliché: How did you start creating these prints? I saw that you designed canvas as well. Can you talk to us about this and other creative experiences?
My job consists of designing patterns for different fashion brands, I’m a textile designer. However, working in fast fashion is something that’s always generated a certain internal conflict in me, so I’ve always had illustration projects in parallel to feel fulfilled. These prints came out as something therapeutic.

What techniques do you normally use? Is there anything in particular you’d like to experiment with?
The technique I use the most is gouache or acrylic paint. Since I mostly use digital techniques to make patterns, when I do it for my own enjoyment I go for a more artisanal process. And besides, a friend took me to paint a mural recently and I loved it. I haven’t explored much painting with spray and I enjoyed stepping out of my comfort zone.

Most of my paintings are about missing things (people, places, feelings), so for me it’s like remembering stuff through everyday objects.

In your work you create a kind of personal universe. I’m under the impression that in many of your art pieces you are introducing us to someone through different elements. Someone that in fact I sort of know or could even be me! Haha. How do you choose these elements?
I’ve always been obsessed with still life art, the layouts, the aesthetic choices that we all make without thinking. The truth is that I don’t have a defined formula to choose the elements, but my work has a strong element of nostalgia, so I pick things that link with the idea that I want to create. Most of my paintings are about missing things (people, places, feelings), so for me it’s like remembering stuff through everyday objects.

This last statement is one of the things that grabbed my attention about your work, I felt it was very related to musical and generational inspirations we share, such as the internet aesthetic… What would you say are your main influences?
I draw my inspiration from many things, but aesthetically and following the inherent sense of nostalgia, I like to use 90’s imagery, Y2K aesthetic, and any other icon that connects me to a past many times idealized. Recently they told me I could define it as millennial “costumbrismo” and I found that amusing.

I’m under the impression that your work has a significant textual component, you tend to include messages in your work… How do you read this link between image and text? How do you end up with these slogans?
I never stopped to think about that because it’s something I do instinctively. Every piece is born from a phone text note, I put down quotes I read or things I think of and I create images around those ideas. The concept of every piece of work is important to me, none of it is just purely aesthetic.

I sense digital references in your work. What do you think about the social network explosion and its impact on creativity and creative careers?
I think that social networks are a good idea poorly executed. Luckily I don’t completely rely on them for my job, but I understand they can be a source of pressure on many artists and their work. Nowadays if you don’t have a profile with a certain number of followers or you don’t create constant content it’s like you don’t exist… I’m not interested in being part of that.

There are works where you present us novels. As a literature enthusiast I can’t not ask you about this: Do you have any bedtime reading?
My favourite book is ‘Out’ by Natsuo Kirino. It’s a crime novel that my mother gave me years ago and it explores the idea of sorority in a hostile Japanese society. Inadvertedly, that book influenced me a lot and it opened a door to me in terms of feminist mindset. And the book I’ve enjoyed the most recently it’s ‘My Year of Rest and Relaxation’ by Ottessa Moshfegh. I recommend it to everyone that’s been through shitty times.

While sharing experiences with female illustrators, designers or musicians, I’ve realized that as women we are faced with being infantilized, treated with condescension or in a paternalistic way as in any other job, as well as the pressure to attain excellence in order to get a minimum respect.

The feminism and women visibility, as well as other identities in artistic and creative disciplines is increasingly prominent. Does it have any influence on your work or has it made any mark on your initial experiences in this scene?
Although it is true that it’s becoming more present, I have the feeling that the art world projects this false appearance of gender equality, but it’s just that, a facade. While sharing experiences with female illustrators, designers or musicians, I’ve realized that as women we are faced with being infantilized, treated with condescension or in a paternalistic way as in any other job, as well as the pressure to attain excellence in order to get a minimum respect. Not to mention the invisibility of female artists throughout history, we aren’t even acknowledged in textbooks.

With your A.C.A.B. illustration you’ve wanted to collaborate with a project in Jinwar, a free women village from Rojava (Kurdistan). Can you tell us more about this project?
One of my best friends was shooting a documentary in Kurdistán for some months and told me about this village built and inhabited by women. Jinwar is a place that works as a refuge for all women affected by war or any kind of violence, an oasis. It seemed like a beautiful project and I really wanted to cooperate in some way or another.

You’ve also done some artwork for bands. Could you talk to us more about that?
The artwork came up from the friendship I have with members of both bands, and it was awesome to collaborate with people I admire so much. Besides, in the case of Viva Belgrado, the layout and graphic design were done by Handshake Studio. To me it’s a dream come true to see my illustrations in a record and I hope I can do more projects like that in the future.

As we’ve mentioned, music it’s very present in your work. Could you tell us about artists or bands that have meant something special to you? Could you recommend a recent discovery?
My latest discovery I’m obsessing over is Molly Payton. And a band that has meant something special to me would definitely be Joie de Vivre, one of my favourites that don’t get the credit they deserve.

In this intersection between music and art, how do you interpret this connection? Is there any artist whose work has influenced you?
I wouldn’t say influenced, but I like how iconic some album covers can be. Some that I’ll never forget are ‘Hounds of Love’ by Kate Bush, ‘Parrot Flies’ by Algernon Cadwallader, ‘The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me’ by Brand New or ‘Jupiter and Beyond’ by A Room With A View.

What bands do you usually listen to while working?
I don’t have a specific playlist, I obsess over bands or artists temporarily. At the moment, for example, I’m playing Lomelda on loop.

Do you have any current project that you’d like to talk about?
Currently I’m working on a series of small scale paintings, that I’m not actually sure will get to see the light because they are too autobiographical haha.

Lastly, what artist would you like us to invite to La Colectiva?
I would like to recommend the photographer Ivan Montero, The Deannaig Design Studio, and a couple of illustrators I like very much, Ro Ledesma and Ari Schneider.

Anything you want to add?
No, just to thank you for thinking of me for such a cool project.

Thank you for being a part of it!

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