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Interviews: Richard Rawlins

Posted in Uncategorized by Adele Todd on July 22, 2009

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1. Richard, I think that you set yourself apart from the
average graphic designer in Trinidad with your projects.
What compelled you to start doing projects?

I just felt that need to create stuff. I work in
advertising,( an industry that’s rapidly changing) and the
opportunities and fun I had when I was half my age as a
designer, I don’t feel creatives today have. As a way of
attempting to inspire the creatives that I worked with, I
encouraged an environment in which we as a ‘collective’
could inspire each other and feed off each other. Art and
design projects are the main way we do this. It’s good for
my spirit feeding off this communal artistic energy.

2. Did you meet with any resistance when you started doing
them?

I don’t get resistance from anybody really for anything.
My friends and colleagues say I’m “draconian” (lol).
But seriously, I work at Collier Morrison & Belgrave and
our agency has always been supportive of any creative
project that I or any of our ‘collective’ has ever been
involved in.

3. Is business warming to your projects? If not,will
collaborating be something that you would want to do in the
future?

I don’t think business gets the whole ‘holistic’ view
of ‘art and design’ for better living thing. But I have
hope. It doesn’t deter me though from creating work,
eventually someone will get it. Just look at the recent
project on the paddock wall of the Savannah. We threw that
in as part of a presentation to NCC for Carnival ’09 and
they ran with it. Darren Cheewah just blew up on that wall.
I have no problem with collaborating. Ultimately we don’t
really ever do anything alone do we? Most of my projects
have had some input from or been inspired by the
conversations of my friends. Dave Williams for one always
helps me bring perspective and value to whatever project
I’m working on…and keeps me going when I want to just
give it up.

4. We were both at UWI over a month ago looking at student
work, and your input was invaluable, what would you like to
make students know about the business that you wish had been
told to you when you were graduating?

I guess I would tell them just do the work. ‘Creating’
feeds your ‘spirit’. Always have a project you are
working on. Start a project…and make sure and finish the
project. Then do more work. Don’t be a slacker.

5. What are your views on creativity and creative concepts
in Trinidad and Tobago in the field of design today?

Design for me in it’s purest state is simply the process
of finding a solution to a problem or set of problems. After
that it could possibly be looked at as the governing rules
for how we create ‘work’…balance, contrast, pov,
enticement and a whole host of other things. For me design
is a subset of creativity. Trinidad and Tobago needs more
design. Not borrowed concepts and solutions. Not borrowed
rhetoric that doesn’t apply, but rather creative solutions
geared for our site specific problems. I am still waiting to
see real solutions for living under the name of design in
this country.

6. Who are you appreciating in design at the moment?

That’s easy Marlon Darbeau and Rodell Warner. They make
‘things’…and the things are ‘cool’.

7. Do you have any favorite local designers and artist and
who are they?

I call them the collective and it’s a long list…TANYA
MARIE WILLIAMS, DAMIAN LIBERT, DARREN CHEEWAH, DAVE
WILLIAMS, MARILYN ‘MARO’ MORRISON, NICOLE NOEL, INDRA
RAMCHARAN, TERRY SMITH, MARLON DARBEAU, TRACY J HUTCHINGS,
RODELL WARNER, BRIANNA MCCARTHY, CHRISTIAN ALEXIS, DARRYN
BOODAN, IVAEK ARCHER, ANDERSON MITCHELL, and AYODHYA
OUDITT.

I work with most of these people everyday. They are
designers and architects and sound engineers and writers and
people doing stuff. These are my tangible favourites. Then
there are the people like you, Sean Leonard and Chris Cozier
(Alice Yard) and Steve Ouditt who are chronicling and giving
opportunity and encouragement to emerging artists. I am a
fan of supporters of opportunity.

8. You clearly love illustration, and particularly color
field painting. Tell me about your art influences.

I’m in love with the “pop culture of mass
consumerism”. Hence my penchant for Warhol’s repeating
images and garish colours. I’m a big comic fanboy as well
so I love Licheinstein and all things inspired by scifi and
comicdom. I love ‘POP’ and the emerging
graffiti/sticker/street art movements out of Latin America
and Europe.

9. What are you working on next?

A piece called ‘A PACK OF ASS’ for next year’s Erotic
Art Week.
A book called SMALL MAN.. The world my father made (about
my father’s work and studio, he was an artist and model
maker), and AHZKEWED PERSPECTIVEZ the beginnings of a single
showing ( struggling with that one though).

10. Erotica Week was a great idea. How did it come about,
give me the rundown.How did it get done?Was it difficult to
co-ordinate? How did the team manage?

Well the idea started with Chris Alexis who said why we
don’t…and from there Dave Williams does what Dave
Willams does and issued orders as to what we would be doing
to make it happen. Over the course of the next six weeks
Chris Alexis, Terry Smith, Dave, myself and the
‘COLLECTIVE’ with major support from Nisha Hosein of
SOFT BOX Gallery would pull out all the stops towards making
it a reality. As we said erotic call for entries, the work
started coming(no pun intended). The contacted businesses
said yes to our endeavour and we had galleries. Nine to be
exact. We got all this goodwill. It was great.
At the center of it all was a this genie in a bottle called
Chantal Clement, who made everything we needed to have
happen a reality. I can’t remember now if it was easy or
even hard. All I know is we got it done.

11. What was the feedback like for Erotica Week? What would
you keep and what would you do differently next time?

Pre-show feedback was mixed. Ambivalence to excitement over
the prospect of it all. Post show was great…mostly
positive. No real negatives. I think people were surprised
at the varying range of pieces in the show. For some it was
the first time they had been exposed to installations and
interactive pieces and they thought it so fantastic they
kept coming back. For some it was their first art exhibition
exposure ever. That in itself makes the project really
worthwhile. As to what I would change…not much. Next
time…more artists from across the region I guess…and
more emerging artists talks.

12. Draconian Switch is your zine project. How did you
begin this one, and what have been some of the highlights of
the magazine?

Oh man that’s just a joy to produce. Marlon Darbeau and I
had gone to a conference in St. Petersburg Florida, and we
started talking about the need to do work outside of
advertising and creating a vehicle by which emerging talent
could be showcased. So then and there on the plane ride I
decided to design the magazine. I started it on my way to
the conference and finished it on my way back from the
conference by laptop. The name came from the way I do things
(as they always say about me). The rest is history.

The highlights are plenty. We’ve had 15,000 downloads in
the year that we’ve been doing this magazine that’s one,
creating a the online catalog for Chris Cozier’s showing
of “Available in all Leading Stores” in Puerto Rico is
another, having all these creative people (too many to name
here) to work with regardless of agency affiliation or age
or whatever is really just cool, and finally seeing the
EROTIC ART WEEK issue of Draconian Switch hit 2664 downloads
in just two days…priceless.

Thank you Richard Adele Todd

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