Rachael Tarravechia’s works are candy-coloured kingdoms, saturated with references to fashion brands and icons of visual culture. Her work shows us an overstimulating material world that’s recognisable to those born, like the artist, in the mid 90s. Looking at her work I am reminded of my adolescent collections of trinkets, magazine perfume samples, and cheap lipstick. It’s joyous.
The scenes I paint are trying to overindulge in a fantasy, but there is a lingering
sense of emptiness amongst the glamour.
In the following interview with Art Plugged, Tarravechia tells us about the sublimity of the mundane, being (or not being) a “cool art girl”, and how we can both reject and worship a world of designer, of luxury, and of overindulgence.
You can view Tarravechia’s piece ‘Pocky Please’ online on Launch F18’S virtual Viewing Room
Q: First things first, why do you do what you do?
A: That’s a tough question to start off with! I’ve always been drawn to creating, and love the entire process of conceiving an idea, and seeing it all the way through to a finished, physical product. There’s no better feeling than when you finish a work and you’re really proud of how it turned out. That’s the feeling I crave, and that’s why I do what I do.
Q: What is your inspiration?
A: My experience growing up in a middle class family in the suburbs of Charlotte, North Carolina is the foundation of my work. I would pour over fashion magazines and endlessly watch House Hunters, or House Hunters International. Seeing old homes in Florida that were decked out with the kitschiest decour was fascinating to me, and felt so foreign. I began thinking about the everyday, and how the mundane is actually sublime. As a commentary on society, I began fusing the everyday with luxury fashion goods that I admired.
Q:What is your creative process when you’re creating?
A: I usually begin with an idea or theme that I want to explore, and from there make digital collages of what I want the pieces to look like. To make these collages I take photos that I’ve taken, or photos of fashion products that I’ve saved from Instagram or other places and piece them together. If I’m working on a large painting, I’ll then project the collage onto my canvas and trace it. Then, the fun begins. I lay down the flat, background colors, and then build up implied textures by either painting patterns and textures on areas, or adding glitter and rhinestones.
Q: Which is your preferred surface for working on?
A: I prefer working on wood panels because of how sturdy it feels, as well as the crisp silhouette it gives. Lately I’ve been working on canvas however, due to not having access to a woodshop.
Q: What would you say is an integral part to the work of an Artist?
A: Giving yourself time to step away from your art, look at other people’s art, and not be around art. All through college and the first year post graduation I was working nonstop and was completely absorbed in what I was doing, and I definitely felt the burnout.
I would feel guilty whenever I wasn’t working in my studio, but now I’ve come to understand that in order to have a sustainable studio practice and to keep growing as an artist and a human being, artists need to take time away from their work also.
Q: What is the reason behind your use of culture and pattern repetition?
A: When I went to college, everything I desired as a teenager began to feel simulated. The oversaturation and repetition of luxury clothing and accessories on the market dispelled my thirst for them. Being accosted with photos and look books from spring/summer collections, fall/winter collections, cruise collections, haute couture, and ad campaigns, I felt like I was seeing the same formula and pattern of designing and selling over and over again.
The scenes I paint are trying to overindulge in a fantasy, but there is a lingering sense of emptiness amongst the glamour. While creating these works, I can’t help but ask myself, how do patterns shape media? Why do luxury goods create expectations of grandeur in daily life? These paintings simultaneously critique and admire designers such as Gucci, Miu Miu, Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, Alexander McQueen, and Missoni.
Q: How do you know when a piece is finished?
A: When I can look at specific areas in a work and can’t think of any way to make it better. There should be an overall sense of balance. The painting should “sing” once it’s finished– all the colors in harmony.
Q: What is your favourite piece from your collection?
A: My latest painting, Ultrafragola, is definitely my favorite! It references the body of work I created while in college, but I think it has a more mature feeling to it. I’m excited to continue this series and see how the paintings progress as I continue to paint 80s interiors and iconic furniture designs.
Q: How did you feel when you did your first solo exhibition?
A: Validated. It didn’t hit me until the install when I thought to myself, “Wow, I’m actually doing this damn thing!” It was such a wonderful experience. I had to push myself further than ever before and it was totally worth it seeing everything come together.
Q: What is the most rewarding thing for you about being a part of the Art Industry?
A: Seeing other people interact with my work. One of my favorite moments as an artist was when I happened to drop by the gallery I had my solo show at, and there was a mom with three of her children there. I had made paper collaged butterflies that hung from the ceiling around the front of the gallery, as it referenced a store window display.
The oldest daughter, who was probably eight or so, loved the butterflies, and was so excited to talk to me and tell me about what she liked to draw and paint. She said that she wanted to paint butterflies now, also. I think about that interaction a lot, and I feel so lucky I got to talk to her that day.
Q: Is there anything that worries you about how social media is affecting the promotion of artists?
A: A lot of the artists I follow seem to have big personalities and carry them onto their account. They’re witty and funny in their captions and replies, and I feel like that’s what draws a lot of their following, in addition to having great art.
That makes me a little anxious, since I’m more on the reserved side and mainly stick to posting about my art or what inspires my art. Sometimes I wonder if I portrayed myself as being a “cool, art girl” if that would help reach more people.
Q: In your opinion, do you have any advice for artists on how to manage their social media image? Or does it even need managing?
A: I don’t think artists necessarily need to manage their social media image, unless their image is a part of their work, like a personna.
Q: Do you have any advice for artists starting and don’t know where to begin?
A: Try to talk to as many people as you can to grow your network. Find other artists whose work you enjoy, particularly those who are at a similar point in their career as you, and support one another.
Q: What would you say is the best way of getting your art noticed in the age of the internet?
A: Grow your network of artist friends and support one another on Instagram or other social media accounts. I have artist friends who live all across the country, and some even in NYC, who I’ve never met, but we are constantly putting each other’s posts on our stories, commenting, tagging each other in things, and generally being supportive, and I’ve noticed that helps everyone a lot.
Q:Are there any places where you feel Art and Technology really shouldn’t overlap?
A: At the moment, no. I think if it’s possible it should be explored, or at least the idea should be entertained.