The More I Know People, the More I Love Wasted Rita

Raw, critical, sarcastic, provocateur, feminine, “epiphomaniac”, Wasted Rita is not fond of labels, nor sugar-coated words. She enjoys pure complicity and some tough honesty, both ice-free. She says she’s the outcome of the juxtaposition of “punk musical in general and riot grrrl in particular, plus R&B divas from the 90s”.

On a creative level, even Tony Carreira can be looked at a source of inspiration, just like The Smiths, Katy Perry or Lana del Rey. But, above all, she’s moved by “actions or the outcome of actions of those beings chock-filled with fascinating flaws and contradictions, commonly known as people”.

Filipa Penteado – From Rita Gomes to Wasted Rita. Who is who and where one intersects the other?

Wasted Rita – I cannot make that distinction anymore. We are that perfect couple of Hollywood flicks that doesn’t actually exist in real life, but that couple happens to be homosexual and is made of myself exclusively. Relying on a football analogy: I have two strikers of the same team playing inside of me (not literally) when one is gassed, the other steps in. Wasted Rita plays in the championship and Rita Gomes has her chances in cup fixtures. Using the third person when I’m referring to myself and my alter-ego makes me wonder if there is not a third striker somewhere as well. I hope not, I don’t think I have room for that many.

FP – However, your aesthetics has something to do with grotesque. In your work, how do you approach the ugly?

WR – In the most relaxed way possible. The ugly-beautiful is the kind of beautiful that attracts me the most. When I travel, I avoid all those touristic spots and I lose myself in the rawest part, the one that has less to do with the usual patterns of what is deemed as visually pleasant in the city, where I can breathe authenticity. The ugly-beautiful appears naturally in my creative process. A procedure that has to be completely open to errors and awfulness. There are two kinds of ugly: the one that has content and a solid visual background and the one that lacks experience and reveals graphic immaturity. The authenticity and the impulsiveness of my shortcomings make them visually interesting and part of the first group, at least I like to believe they do.

FP – In addition to that raw side of your work (which may be deemed as more masculine) there’s a very feminine side as well. It’s not girly, but it’s not afraid of the color pink. Does your work stroll on that balance between the masculine and the feminine?

WR – I consider my rawest side to be super feminine. As a matter of fact, my rawest side is full of drama and emotional crises that are absolutely feminine. Society is not aware, but I will explain: women can have a strong attitude as well and a sense of humor that is bitterer than (very) bitter chocolate. Also, being autonomous, critical, provocative and capable of spinning the heads of those around us does not represent a threat to the world – it’s a surplus. That doesn’t make us masculine, only powerful. My work strolls between the unbalance and the balance of my own head, without paying attention to labels or colors.

FP – Some say you’re a punk. I’d say that that is a restrictive definition. And you’d say…

WR – That I do what I want the way I want, leaving to others the responsibility to define, label and theorize what I do. Punk was one of my major foundations, one of my most important “teachers” throughout adolescence. It has a clear toll on my work (straightforward, brief and irksome) but, nowadays, the only thing left from punk is what I think it’s important from it. I don’t cope well with limitations and punk, contrary to popular belief, it’s very confined indeed. In contrast, if you ask what punk means to me, I will always say that is doing what you want, the way you want, respecting your values first and foremost. And that is exactly what I try to do every single day. However, I do realize that this definition may only apply to my own universe.

Definitions. Those should only be used for concrete and constant stuff and not for abstract processes who are constantly undergoing overhauls and innovations. Isn’t attaching a creative process to a label something completely antagonistic, actually murdering the creative freedom itself?

FP – Tell me a bit about those statements and love letters, specifically your word-only graphic works. Play with words in order to keep breathing?

WR – That’s the thing about sarcasm being my favorite side dish, followed by ab hyperbole (both carb-free) juxtaposed with that other story of being a girl who thinks a lot, too much and excessively, causing lots of emotional orgasms, then releasing them in the form of written words and/or drawings. That’s where statements, love letters and everything I write come from. Those are epiphanies which stem from discussions and chats with my own self and/or with others, and theories about what I see, feel and/or do. I have lots of those throughout the whole day. It’s good to be epiphomaniac.

FP – For how long have you been working as an illustrator and how has that experience been so far? Are you able to make a life out of it?

WR – Yes. I. Fucking. Can. I’m able to make a life out of it, otherwise it wouldn’t be a job, just a side project. It would be good to have everyone clearly making this distinction. I finished my Communication Design degree in July 2010, a couple of months later I started to crank some temporary gigs for a creative agency and in mid-2011 I decided to be Wasted Rita at full time. I realized right away that it wouldn’t be possible to earn enough money to pay the bills, however, it seems that if you actually have a goal and if you run yourself to the ground to achieve it, you can actually make it.

It’s extremely hard, much more than I would be able to put in words, mainly because I do everything by myself and, then again, my independent and provocative stance is easily perceived as a threat. But, cliché after cliché, everyone knows that the hardest things are the most rewarding. Everyone knows this, but not everyone has the guts to know how really rewarding it is. Every single day I feel deeply proud of everything I’ve achieved so far and, even more important than that, I have the impetus, the will and ideas to achieve much more. Indestructible is my middle name.

Collaborator of the Umbigo since 2000 and… The relationship has survived several absences and delays. She graduated in Fashion Design, but the images only make her sense if they are sewn with words. She does production so as not to rustle the facet of control freak, dance as a form of breathing and watch horror movies to never lose sight of their demons. Whenever you ask for a biography, say a few profanities and then remember this poem of Al Berto, without ever being sure if you really put it into practice or if it is an eternal purpose of life: "But I like the night and the laughter of ashes, I like the desert, and the chance of life, I like the mistakes, the luck and the unexpected encounters. Almost always on the sacred side of my heart, or where fear has the precariousness of another body"

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