“Deadlines are a dagger in the heart, aren’t they?” Romina Malta’s “unresolved” practice
With an elemental warmth and familiarity, there is an informal relatability to Romina’s work – one that thrives within the quiet and incomplete.
- Harry Bennett
- 30 October 2020
Due to the turbulence of her home country, art director and designer Romina Malta doesn't tend to stay in one place for long. Whilst born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, she currently hangs her hat in Uruguay, telling us “my home country is going through a devastating economic and political moment, I'm here for a while and there for another while.” Similarly, Romina’s own creative journey is far from straight forward.
Beginning with writing poems and collating them into small books as a child, Romina then grew an interest in editorial design, “then graphic design, then illustration,” finishing high school by studying sound design and never actually attending art school. “I am self taught, I mean, I love to draw, paint, and design,” she explains, “I never thought I would be involved in this and I don't know how long I will stay involved either.”
This seemingly transient approach to creativity naturally creates both an innately speculative and broad practice for Romina, as well as a candid attitude that somewhat frees her from what is expected, creating intimately original and charismatic work.
With pressure removed, Romina is content in making work without the fear of rejection, Moreover, it appears to be what she finds most exciting, telling us is it “certainly the unexpected result,” and “the messy studio, immersed in silence” that she finds the most energising. “I have hard drives with unused material,” Romina tells us, because “those who look at my pieces believe that they are unresolved...and that's fine.” This satisfaction, if not enthusiasm, for rejection is quite rare within the creative industry, but indicative of Romina’s personal humility which plays a vital role in her subtle, yet habitually tactile work. “The incompleteness that is seen in my work,” she adds, “is reflected in the feedback I receive daily through different channels.”
Since we last spoke to Romina her practice has characteristically changed, telling us “my practice has changed because life has changed, and because the world clearly doesn't stop changing.” In particular, the designer is starting to work more and more with raw materials, spending far less time on computer software. “My intention is to occupy less digital space, as long as I can occupy concrete spaces and new materials,” she explains. This approach is then channelled into a soft visual consistency reminiscent of dot matrix printers, xerox and scanned documents which instil a strong sense of familiarity and nostalgia within an audience’s reaction to the work. Almost entirely monochrome, the use of colour is “a mystery” in Romina’s work, finding her fulfilment in “the grayscale, the textures and the unresolved.”
“My creative practice is unstable,” Romina continues, telling us “there are similarities in every project I start, but I get influenced by context, my psyche, the client.” Despite the diversity of outcomes, the designer always begins her journey the same way: isolated. “I want to be alone,” Romina explains, “I don't want to talk,” adding that “if the project is really exciting, I get mono thematic and I want to take control of all the artistic direction.” Barreling ahead, Romina can end up spending hours without removing herself from the project, telling us she sometimes reaches the point where “I forget to take a bath or drink some water, muy mal!” This is not without a healthy dose of procrastination, however, explaining that “I also dance, I turn off the phone,” before reaching the level where she is simply “standing next to the desk,” or “looking at the desk.” This comes with a liberal approach to deadlines too, pushing them to nth degree. “Deadlines are a dagger in the heart, aren't they?” Romina remarks, “I mean, how can I create an artwork in exactly 48 hours?”
A recent and rewarding project of Romina’s was her artwork for pianist Anthony Ferraro’s new album Gestures, a brief that suited her perfectly; with no strict deadline and a client who she admires. “It has been one of the most beautiful sensations of 2020,” Romina notes, also finding great satisfaction in her recent collaboration with illustrator and animator Fons Schieldon for artist Kito. “For the first time my illustrations were animated,” she remarks, “I was happy to see my little illustrations running wild.”
Intending now to finally realise what she had been doing since her adolescence, Romina is in the process of making her own radio show, explaining “it's what I've been doing since I was a little girl, collecting records,” adding “it's part of me every day.” With her intrinsic link to music, coupled with her need for separation, it’s not surprise that what lies ahead for the creative is “my little radio and a quiet life.”
Romina Malta: Artwork and playlist for Route.onl (Copyright © Romina Malta, 2020)
About the Author
Hailing from the West Midlands, and having originally joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in March 2020, Harry is a freelance writer and designer – running his own independent practice, as well as being one-half of the Studio Ground Floor.