24/02/2022 Confidence @Raissa_Pardini Interview by Harry Bennett
“I stop for a second and it's almost like having a conversation myself”:
Raissa Pardini on Creative Confidence

If you don’t know who London-based creative Raissa Pardini is… where have you been? Known for her vibrant, nostalgic bespoke lettering, Raissa has had an eclectic creative career; having moved away from design altogether to further pursue music before returning to the industry. Often combining the two, Raissa has worked with music heavy-weights the likes of Willie Nelson, Ashe and Dolly Parton, as well as a plethora of exciting, slick, non-musical brands – from her work collaborating between Dazed and Gucci, to the acquiring of her vivid explorations of form and colour by the V&A. 

The feeling translated throughout the punch, attitude and jublicance within Raissa’s unique work is a defined sense of confidence. A feeling of pride and self-assurance in the expression of form and feeling that seems unapologetic of what it has to say, and tenacious in how it says it. Right now this spirit is seemingly hard to come by. In a social-media-centric world of creative competition and comparison, there is a growing sense of uncertainty, anxiety and a lack of confidence. Where we are constantly pitting ourselves against the apparently infallible work of others. Where we feel unsure of our work, and where we feel unsure of ourselves.

Speaking to Raissa about creative confidence, and its undeniable link with self-assurance, we discuss how she approaches the projects she’s involved in, how she responds to rejection, and the effect of her mental health on her work (and vice versa). 

Hey Raissa! How are you doing?

Hello everyone! I’m doing good, thank you. I'm a little exhausted since I just moved from Glasgow, back to London. I appreciate starting interviews with a good understanding of how we feel so thanks for asking. I hope you’re well too!

For those who don’t know you, how would you introduce yourself, and how would you define your practice?

I studied design at uni but left it on the side for a few years. Design wasn’t for me for such a long time. I embraced my musical side for a while just to come back to it with a clearer head space and push design as hard as I could! Pausing is scary but it can be an essential step to take when we’re not ready for our next step. Today I’m a freelancer, repped by Pocko. I mainly work with letters in all forms. I try to look around for inspiration and stay away from my computer and social media platforms as much as possible. That’s the key for having a good run of inspiration and mental health for me.

The work you do seems familiar and nostalgic, but at the same time unapologetically contemporary. Where do you most often find the inspiration behind the work you make, and what do you find most rewarding about your practice?

I’m nostalgic at heart but I can get bored of things very very quickly. I try to put that energy into my work, trying to look more into something that we are already familiar with. I love history and so I’m always going to be attracted to something beautiful from the past. Although I’m always excited to give away a bit of myself and look for a different spin in things. What I love is releasing a new project after working on it for a long time. That is such a great feeling and so rewarding. I love seeing things in print (who doesn’t?) and sometimes you can find me walking secretly in a bookstore or a record shop, looking for the titles I design. That just makes me smile : )

Speaking of which, your practice and the work you produce is so energetic and vibrant, but for me something that really stands out is the confidence they both exude. Is this a deliberate consideration to the work you make or is it subconscious? 

My main mental health issue is confidence. With confidence I mean that feeling of never being satisfied enough with what I do. Of course I appreciate my work and I’m proud of what I do, but there’s 10% of me wanting to push the project more and more… times infinity. How do I stop myself from over working? I just became realistic. I stop for a second and it's almost like having a conversation myself. It’s a mindful exercise I learnt with therapy. I step back and I have a little chat internally and I realistically see what’s in front of me. 

Working with vibrant colours, fun fonts, important topics... that’s what helps my confidence, and that’s enough most days. Is it subconscious or is it a very mathematical ritual I do to feel good? I think the line between the two is very fine!

How does the attitude you have going into a project affect the work itself?

After working on absolutely everything I could handle for two years, a style seemed to come out. Projects and people started appreciating that visual thread I was producing. That made people ask me to work with that thread more and more until the point of being commissioned because of that attitude. I think we cannot escape it now : )

Was your creative confidence something you learned along the way, or have you always felt similar to how you do now?

10000% along the way. I’m still in the process of getting to know myself and I want to believe that will last forever in a curious mind. The day we think we have all the confidence that the world could gift us, it’ll probably be the day we produce a very bad piece of work! 

What feeds your creative confidence, and what do you find drains it? 

Interaction, curiosity, and listening to other people’s point of views. That’s the healthiest food to my creativity. Being away from people, thinking of my work being too good, selfishness, self promoting myself too much, and chatting about myself too much. That drains it. It doesn’t happen often but it can lead me to very dark and uninspiring places, if it does.

Have you ever had to battle for your creative ideas?

People love a creative competition! That was the first reason (and perhaps the only reason) I left design for a number of years. I tend to not pitch for projects. That destroys me mentally sometimes. And I tend to not hang out with designers that much too. The risk of talking about work is too high and competition chatting is just around the corner from there : )

How do you creatively and personally counter rejection?

I accept it. I have a very defined style and I can’t be liked by everyone. That would be technically impossible. I learnt this only recently, one of those things you wish you knew before!

Misogyny, prejudice, gender inequality and general twatiness unfortunately still plague the creative industry, alongside every other. How do you think the creative scene has to change, and how does creative confidence factor into it? 

The creative community puts itself to high standards when it comes to thinking about ourselves being progressive. The reality is the creative community is just another industry. We need to find time to accept each other, from older to younger generations. There are so many stereotypes in the creative industry towards genders, towards age, towards talent. There isn’t such a thing as talent. Some artists are better captivating trends while others are labelled as talented by people that make trends. It’s a vicious circle that I find quite toxic and destroys people's confidence. Mentoring for me was the key to seeing everyone’s investment in the creative world. That helped me focus on a neutral point of view towards people’s work. So I would say that listening to the community is the best thing we could do to change the industry from the inside.

What advice do you wish you'd be told earlier in your career, and what advice would you give people who struggle to find their own confidence?

Competition is too high, mostly since social media platforms evolved into a very negative space for creatives. And ego can kill the vibes. Let others speak about your work. But equally try to fight for your opinions since they matter as much as someone else’s. And please don’t mess around with other artists’ work. Be inspired but be respectful.

What question do you wish I asked you? 

How does constant exposure affect our mental health and ability to create something original? 

What is the answer?

Massively. Our brains are tired and the quicker we take a break from this exposure, the better we’ll start designing again : )

Any final thoughts?

Share your vulnerability. Accept it. Share it. Be proud of it. It will give you so much more back in confidence, love and strength. Don't be scared! We’re all humans : ) We’ve also spoken to Raissa about what she’s been reading, watching and listening to! Check out what she’s suggested below!

Raissa’s Recommendations!

Film: The new Sparks documentary is pretty amazing!

Show: I cannot wait to see Natalie Bergman solo tour of her new “Mercy” album.

Book: I’m reading The Hundred Years War on Palestine. It’s so well written and informative.

Podcast: Working Class History.

Album: Big Star, #1. A classic that guides me through each move.