Freddie Peacock has been active this last year. From his loved-by-JME paintings to his ever-expanding line of apparel, the artist is no stranger to dipping into various pools of creativity. Also known as RICO, the creative oscillates between various mediums but all remain tied by his visual exploration of who his subjects are, intertwined with an introspective questioning of his own self. It’s this combination of self and how he relates to his creative collaborators which RICO has managed to craft into excellence, and which forms the basis of his latest project: WHO IS SAINTE?
First brought together by CULTED’s own James Loach for one of his passion projects, James cites the environment of mutual love for creativity over anything else as an integral part of why the two get on so well. “From general love shared between everyone there to becoming something so pure goes to show that (Sainte and RICO’s) relationship cuts through the bullshit” James commented when introducing RICO to me. “It really is art meets art, creativity meets creativity”.
It’s clear that whoever RICO works with is hand-selected, and for a reason – which translates into the authentic and provoking pieces which come as a result. We caught up with him to dive deeper into his work, motivations, and working relationships to answer the burning question – WHO (actually) IS RICO?
Last time we spoke it was about the WHO IS VIRGIL piece with the guys over at 4BYSIX. How did the launch and exhibition end up going for you?!
Oh it was really really good. That’s where I properly met James (Loach), and it was a big opportunity. It was my most thought-out, meaningful and close to home project to this day I’d say, but yeah – went really well.
Glad to hear! That was more of an immersive installation, right? I know you move across mediums – how do you decide which one to tackle for each project?
I’m quite a calculated, methodical person, but to be honest I think most artists are happiest when they’re just doing what they want. So although my work is thought-out, I’d say I just do whatever feels right and whatever’s organic. For my latest project, it felt right to do T-shirts, even though I’d already done tracksuits previously which seems the wrong way round. But just talking to Sainte and going back and forth, we landed on tees.
Let’s talk about WHO IS SAINTE, your latest work.
I wanted to keep the title under the umbrella of ‘WHO IS RICO’, my brand, which is all about the mystery of who the second half of my paintings is. Each project is about a different person, looking at their life and career and why we’ve chosen to work together. The second half is where my mind is, how I’m feeling and how I translate that visually. Calling them ‘who is…’ is taking a part of them, and exploring who they are, but also tied into exploring who I am, under the umbrella of WHO IS RICO.
It felt right that we did apparel, homeware and bags – all tied together in a physical pop up. I knew that S (Sainte) was going to be 100% behind that due to the nature of our relationship. It just felt right to lay it out in as big and crazy form as I could – hence all the different elements to this project.
So guided by intuition as well as relationships, then.
Yeah for sure. You get so caught up in people telling you to do this or that, to maintain a consistent style or image, that yeah I’m always working but if I’m going to build this consistency I also need to be getting better at it. When we speak about instinctive or intuitive design, whilst I maintain a certain style, I’m also developing things and remembering what’s important: which is maintaining your craft. So yeah, it’s instinctive for me.
How did your relationship with Sainte start?
So…the majority of people I work with are friends and people I already have a real relationship with, apart from opportunity-based projects such as the Central Cee painting. That was a really cool project for his album booklet. But generally, I’d much rather paint people that I’ve connected with or have supported me.
With Sainte though, it was the first time that someone has shared a mutual interest in the culture, for creating and for each other’s fields. I don’t even really follow his music, and I think he loves that. Equally, he doesn’t know the ins and outs of what I do, but I think it’s so great and speaks to how organic our relationship is. He’s super humble and down for creativity, and doesn’t let things get in the way of that – which I really identify with too.We have a genuine friendship, born out of a joint love and passion for the arts – it’s an understanding, I’d say.
I love that sentiment of it being an understanding without having to speak it.
100%. That’s how you breed the best projects in my opinion. When you genuinely connect with someone and share a love and passion for something, not only will you have more ideas, but they’ll be better ideas too. Everything gets done quicker, people are happier and it’s all good!
Saying that, did this project feel different to you then?
In a way, yeah. I started this painting like a year ago and it’s undergone loads of changes, because I was really wanting to get this one right. It all stems from our relationship – all the changes and wanting to experiment.
Can you break down some of the artistic references and processes for this project?
For this piece, I steered away from his biographical references, but wanted to push my craft further. For example – the colours were mixed and remixed, placed and replaced hundreds of times in some areas. Unlike the Virgil piece, I took the emphasis out of breaking down our careers this time because we’re at the start of them. It’s about art, sharing art and enjoying it too.
It’s funny that you mentioned you’re at the start of your career as you’ve been banging out the projects quite consistently already, like your recent Forever Good pop-up. How did this fit into your trajectory, and what’s next for you?
Yeah. The Forever Good pop up was good cos it pushed me out of my comfort zone. On a conversational level it was a challenge, which I enjoyed. Also on a physical level – setting it up and making my stuff fit in the space was challenging. It was me with 2 tees, a rug and a few paintings – so making this atmospheric and an experience which blended art and fashion in a way that didn’t read as just a money grab was interesting.
In terms of upcoming things, I’m sat on a bunch of work which I need to work out when the best time is to release according to loads of different components. I’m also constantly creating – I’m actually in what my Dad would call a stolen dining room but I call my office – working on a bigger scale, multi canvas project right now. An exhibition is in my sights, for sure.
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See also: SWIM, SURF & CREATIVITY WITH DANI & YANN