Today we interview Maria López and Javier de Riba, better known as Reskate. They usually paint large murals all over the world, which you can visit on their website, but at the Gandesa Cooperative they have worked on the small format. They are the authors of the labels for Terralta and Pessigolla vermouths. In the case of Vermut Terralta, they have reinterpreted the label created by poster artist Àngel Pallarés in the 1930s. They recently visited the Cooperative and we took the opportunity to get to know them better.
For those who don't know you, who are you? What do you do for a living? What are your best-known projects, or of which you are most proud?
We are Reskate, an artistic collective formed by Minuskula (María López - 1980) and Javier de Riba (1985), visual artists from Donostia-San Sebastián and Barcelona respectively. Our workshop and studio is in the Sants neighborhood of Barcelona. We are trained as graphic designers and illustrators and our work includes murals, illustration and design. We illustrated and designed the poster for the 2020 Barcelona Mercè celebrations, a job we are very proud of, as Javier is from Barcelona. But it is very difficult for us to choose just one project. We could say that we are always very happy to get involved in initiatives that are aligned with our vision and with clients who trust our judgment and experience.
How would you define your style? And your way of conceiving art, posterism?
Our work has various influences, from classic signage, 1910s - 1950s poster art and popular culture. For us, art, in our case the murals we make in public spaces and the reproductions of these murals on paper using the screen printing technique, are means of bringing culture closer to people. We conceive of art as a language to represent and communicate current concerns, generate debates and make known facts of the past using a careful aesthetic. Because we believe that although we are dealing with sometimes controversial topics, it is possible to generate a much more positive impact with delicacy than with aggression. We treat poster work in almost the same way as mural work, in fact our murals are like large format posters that instead of being 50 x 70 cm in size can be 300 m2. The most important thing is to identify what we want to express and synthesize it with an illustration and a sentence that helps to interpret the work, but which is not too literal. We like that our work can have various interpretations. Posterism has been and still is a very powerful communication tool, which transferred to a larger format can generate a very valuable response in people.
Who are your references? What artistic or "muralistic" tradition do you drink from?
We admire many artists and fellow muralists such as Escif (Valencia), Aryz (Catalonia) or Marina Capdevila (Catalonia). There is a lot of talent right here. People who work all over the world, rather than at home. But as more direct references we can say that we are very inspired by retro advertising from the belle époque to the 50s. People usually don't think about how saturated the public space is with advertisements. It seems very powerful to use the same visual tools as advertising, but instead of doing it to favor the individual and their whims, we do it to represent stories, facts and concerns of the place where we work to make visible the their identity and value the common good. That's why we rely on when advertising was cute and not aggressive like today. We are interested in gaining ground in the gray and dirt of cities to contribute to making them more pleasant.
You visited the Cooperative after a while of wanting to be there, what did you think of the building? And the project? What did you like most about our story?
We are delighted to have been able to visit the Gandesa Cooperative. The building is an architectural marvel and we were very pleased to learn that the architect Martinell had a great knowledge of the wine world and its needs when he designed the building in such a functional way. Also how it was built with the efforts of all the people, women and men. We find it admirable how you respect tradition and respect in the making of your products and believe that you have great potential to exploit and be able to open up more to receive the recognition you deserve. You have a story that needs to be told. Many young brands invent a concept when developing a product and you already have this and it is also very real.
What does it mean to you, who are used to working on big walls all over the world, to design something as small as a label?
Conceptually, designing a label does not involve less effort than designing a poster or a mural. The part of collecting information and data in order to try to synthesize an idea in an image is the most important part of the process. Then comes the sketching phase and once both we and the client are happy with the way, we have to work on the illustration and do print proofs so that all the elements are clearly visible once printed in real size . In the case of the mural, it also involves a lot of physical work, but the previous phases are very similar.
What has it meant for you to redesign a label, that of Terralta, which was so important (made by a renowned poster artist of the time), for a product that represented so much for the Cooperative?
A redesign job may seem easier since the conceptual work is done. But the pressure and responsibility are greater. We did not want to disrespect the good work that Àngel Pallarès did at the time. In addition, this product was crucial in the post-war period, as it prevented farmers from fleeing to the big cities.
How did you approach the redesign of the Terralta label?
We believe that sometimes it is important to update the image of a product and in order to do so we tackled the assignment as a way to pay tribute to the original artist, the product, the woman and the earth by making use of the our artistic language which, as we said before, has retro influences. It was mandatory to maintain all the elements, women, grapes and building of the Cooperative. We rearranged the entire design to make it more symmetrical. We added more brightness, limited the number of colors and changed the illustration of the Cooperative to a frontal view of the main facade.
How did you approach the design of the Pessigolla silkscreen label?
For this design we had creative freedom, while it was important to the client that we represent a woman and the phrase "Author's Vermouth". Luckily the name "Tickling" and this phrase inspired us a lot to develop the idea. We took a pen as an element with which a creation can be signed and at the same time an object that in the collective imagination is used to tickle. To illustrate the woman we are based on modernist advertising aesthetics, but giving her a challenging, active and open-minded attitude.
We hope you have tasted the Terralta and the Pessigolla (the normal and the special). Did you like them?
So far we've only tried the normal Pessigolla and we have to say that we were very surprised. I (María) am from Donostia and there we have a tradition of having an aperitif pintxo on the weekends very often with a vermouth. Here we also really like to have a vermouth with a good pica pica in company. This Pessigolla vermouth is very special, you can tell that it has different spices than we are used to and it is fresh and not too sweet. Congratulations on the creation to you and Mariona Vilanova!
Are you happy with the result?
We are very happy not only with how the bottles have turned out but also with the trust you have placed in our judgment and in the collaborative relationship throughout the creation process. As we said before, it is very nice to participate in projects that are developed with such passion, speak of history and represent such important values as cooperation and respect for the earth.