Do you remember Hardcore bands like VEIL or I DEFY? Or did you ever hear of SALAD DAYS? Well, all these bands have one thing in common, the singer!

Raoul Festante is surely an institution if you’re talking about German 90ies Hardcore with deep lyrics beyond the usual scene & crew topics. Beside his musical activities Raoul was always a really creative guy with strong ambitions, deep spirituality and a high level of political interest. With his clothing label “L’idealista” which was founded in 2012, Raoul created a real personal way to turn his thoughts and passions into fashionable shirts and sweaters. The most outstanding thing beside his unique designs is the spirit of D.I.Y. (do it yourself), a thing which is nearly lost in Hardcore nowadays.

According to this, the guy behind L’idealista is printing his shirts by hand with a simple manual 1 color silkscreen machine in the basement room of a small barber-shop in Düsseldorf, the capital of North Rhine-Westphalia.

But who’s this guy, what is his inducement and what is his goal? Let’s take a closer look…

– Hi Raoul, first of all big ups for your work. I know you for some years and I’ve been already a fan of your music back in the days of VEIL. Actually I’m wearing your “BEWARE OF HUMAN BLOODSUCKERS” shirt and hell yeah, I’m still a fan hahaha.
So tell me, how did you start L’idealista? What was the trigger to start such a project?

First of all, THAAAANK YOU! I think there were a few reasons for me to start printing shirts and it had to do a lot with my situation two years ago as i was in a kind of transitional phase and was just looking for some new creative output. First of all, as you mentioned, i was always into music since i was sixteen and always being part of some scene. In Hardcore and Punkrock there is and has always been a great amount of creative people just experimenting with styles and that sometimes on a very high artistic level. That was the same when i first went to shows in 89. Just seeing how people created artwork for bands or printing their own Shirts was just totally inspring for me. There was room for experiments and that room was big. Punk and Hardcore was, at least for me, an open space where people would freely share skills, ideas, inspiration and create their own stuff by combining elements. So this is the background. Basically, this carried me through my adolescence into my twenties with bands and stuff happening and continued to carry me into my thirties with other creative projects happening and actually somehow making a profession out of it (Media Education) and has, in a way, culminated into this latest project. What differs to, lets say, a band, is that i work on my own, i have no other parties to discuss my ideas with. That is actually one central reason that i wanted to have a space where i didn’t need to discuss so much but simply wake up in the morning with an idea in mind, start working on it and at the end of the day hold that stuff in my hands.

L'idealista interview

This is my second life in a way. I have been working in jobs, where other people would more or less tell me what to do for some time now. So with this label, i simply want to forget about that and not be driven – and i’m very radical with this – by just making money. It would ruin everything if that would preoccupy me now

– What is your intention with the label? What are your goals and what is the idea behind?….I think it’s not making money!?
IAN MCKAYE, founder of Dischord Records – i think that he once said that his intention was to bake good breads. If people liked them, he would bake more breads and make sure that the breads remain good. „Don’t worry about selling it, first worry about it being good!“ or something he said in another interview i believe. I think that is really important to me. This is my second life in a way. I have been working in jobs, where other people would more or less tell me what to do for some time now. So with this label, i simply want to forget about that and not be driven – and i’m very radical with this – by just making money. It would ruin everything if that would preoccupy me now. That mindset is very important for me, because with the ideas and the motives i work on, i have to be fully honest with myself and waste not even a millisecond worrying about if that shit would sell or not. If i feel, and i do feel sometimes, that this world is governed by reptile-like human beings i have to say it as it is on that shirt. Regardless, if it doesn’t catch up with the latest trend or if that design doesn’t look sellable. It doesnt matter. My intention is this: I want to piss of some people but also inspire them at the same time to communicate disbelief or even start a conversation with people they feel pissed of by. This is my outlet for the stuff that fucks me up on a permanent basis. I am consumed by shit like greedy, corrupted people, fake smiles, not giving a damm about that fox tail they wear as fashion, etc. It is quite simple sometimes to nail it down, you know. A lot of people refuse that and hide behind relatvism. I was deeply inspired by writers like Erich Fromm and Eastern Spirituality like the Bhagavad Gita but in the later years, books like THE LONELY CROWD by David Riesman or THE ORGANIZATION MAN by William H. Whyte have really left an impression on me that led me to deal more with structures and manipulative forces in society. Bordieu is another great analyst i have to mention. Now, if you deal with all this knowledge, you need some type of outlet. At the same time, you need to communicate with others. Since I’m a visual person and not a good writer, that shirt thing seemed an interesting approach to get a point across or start a conversation with people. Now, of course, it is nice to make some money with it, to pay for the material and have some extra left to invest into other stuff or hell, even be able to pay the rent with it. Who wouldn’t like to have that? But, again, for now and hopefully forever i worry about the quality of my breads first and the rest just comes.

– You’ve really fine prints with many details. Where did you learn to print? Was it all autodidactic or did you visit some workshops or something like this?
Thank you!! Actually no training other than DIY and asking people many, many dumb questions, checking tutorials online, etc. One thing which is important is to get inspired, to enjoy art or go to the library and look for art books. I always loved that, spent hours in libraries to steal stuff there. Also, i would spend a lot of money in copyshops and had a lot of fun there working on designs, talking to people who copied their flyers. I have no real drawing skills, never learned that, wish i did but for whatever reason i am not a good drawer. I like to mix stuff with typo and fool with brushes and dirt and with the current software it is just brilliant. I learned screenprinting through videos and asked a few people questions and they helped me out a lot. Most of it, i learned by mistakes. Especially with all the chemicals involved in the early stage, screenprinting can be a real mess. The problem was and still is in my opinion, that it is a very quiet scene, not like knitting where you can find tons of blogs or tutorials. But it is changing, more and more people share their stuff online and shoot videos which is a good thing.

L'idealista interview

– Designs like “more stagedives, less catwalks” are apparently strongly influenced by the Hardcore scene. Where did you get all the other ideas and the material for you designs?
I get a lot of my ideas from watching people and i get a hell of inspiration just taking the tram from Düsseldorf to Essen or Duisiburg, Just watching people, overhearing their conversations, walking around in my gentrified neighbourhood with all these expensive tanks in front of their houses and the remaining poor and miserable people in the other side. I work several jobs so i have to take the tram to these cities and it is always an experience when you see the change of people in trams. You feel the difference and the inivisible barriers as you enter the other side, the poorer places. I check wikimedia commons or flickr for interesting stuff and sometimes i use my camera and look for motives in my environment, Magazines. Etc. Some of my work is stuff from the middle ages or early comic stuff from the 30ies or 40ies. Propaganda Art or Ads are great too. Actually, like i said, i’m not a big drawer so i combine stuff with type and some slogan that comes to mind, about stuff that bothers me and whoop, there you go. Sometimes, typo alone is great as with the „more stagedives“ design. That, by the way, was a „reaction“ to watching some folks in my environement or in the city and just how stiff and uptight some fucks are, how much of everything they need to show is their status represented by a certain brand of clothes or a haircut, shoes, look on the face. Inside hollowness. I observe people a lot, you know. Actually, i have a theory that brands send couples, including children, all dressed up into the cities every saturday so that other people get inspired to by just that very outfit. I’m totally convinced this is happening.

I observe people a lot, you know. Actually, i have a theory that brands send couples, including children, all dressed up into the cities every saturday so that other people get inspired to by just that very outfit. I’m totally convinced this is happening.

– Beside your Hardcore background you’ve strong roots in the vedic teachings and you’re living a cruelty free lifestyle . Especially the topic animal rights seems to be an important point in your collections. How important is education for you and to bring people closer to this topic?
I think it is very important to pass information and start conversations about the way we deal with animals. It is good to see, that more and more people are „starting to educatem themselves, their friends and families“ as the Youth Of Today song NO MORE goes. But Veganism or Vegetarianism is part of a bigger concept where deeper understanding definately has to kick in to complete the picture. Because in a way, if being vegan is the main thing that you identify yourself with, it can become a very obsessive thing. I mean, yes, the majority of the population doesn’t give a fuck about animal rights or anything, they just buy meat and consider it to be no different than chocolate. You mentioned the vedic perspecitve on animals. That was actually the thing that made it click for me. We are all souls dressed up with bodies, animal bodies or human bodies, and so from that point of view, i have to respect all living beings. I cannot avoid to kill ants while walking on the streets but i can avoid to consume food which is from dead animals. God doesn’t consider one being to be more valuable than another and if we kill even a bee and having that mindset, that can create very bad karma. I’m simplyfing a bit but that is what i learned from reading the Bhagavad Gita and this still makes sense. It is very noble to be vegan but veganism alone won’t answer all the questions about life.

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– Beside animal rights you also have a strong focus on human rights and political aspects. How do you express your beliefs and what is your main message to the world out there?
I think at this moment, the biggest challenge is to make sure that you get critical information on what is happening in the world. I don’t think that the mainstream media is doing a good job, personally i got used to double checking all the news that get aired on the major news channels and papers. There is just to much propagandistic opinion out there, of course many times in a very subtle manner. Am i pro or against military engagement of the EU in Ukraine or Syria, who is really the „bad guy“ and which side should i choose based on the information i get? Very difficult. We get manipulated, this should be obvious to any sane person. But how does manipulation take place? What are the structures which allow for manipulation to take place? Manipulation not just in a political sense but down to our private lives, the way we love, feel, why we suffer, what makes us happy, what should make us happy, etc. And by that i do not mean advertisement but ideas passed on by generations of generations, work ethics, ethics of faith and accepted behaviour. How much of what we feel or do is because we wanted to do this or that? If you simplify, and again i don’t think it is wrong to simplify, it comes down to this question. Also, i do believe, that exploitive structures are upheld or established by real human beings with self interest and not some impersonal force. But emotionalsim is dictating our decision making. Why was the mainstream media in Germany so reluctant to talk about the role of the fascists in Ukraine uprising? Because it would not support the emotionalism of naming good and bad guys. I don’t feel comfortable, which would be my definition of an artist, so i deal with it in a creative way. If we are honest with ourselves, we should all be deeply unsatisfied with the situation of a world in which a small group of people has nearly all the wealth. This conflict is taking place in front of me, with the prices of rents rising and the new Bourgeoisie protecting their gated communities. I don’t have time to cover stuff up for people so that they must dig very deep in order to start a conversation with me. Thats why most of my stuff carries the message in it.

I don’t think that the mainstream media is doing a good job, personally i got used to double checking all the news that get aired on the major news channels and papers. There is just to much propagandistic opinion out there…

– As I see you’re printing your designs on fair trade clothing for a while. So what is your opinion about fair trade clothing and productions without impact on climate change? Can it become a longterm competitor for major productions like in Bangladesh? And how important is it for you to communicate this topic to your customers?
To be honest, I don’t believe consumers can make that much of a change on the situation of workers in Bangladesh with just buying „good“ products. That is a myth. Politics can change the situation of workers by making it a law that certain wages have to be paid, not just minimum wage but a living wage for example. But corporations work on maximization of profit and not by the ideas of mother theresa and the few „good“ brands that i support like Continental or other FAIR WEAR FOUNDATION certified products only make up a small percentage of the clothes which are being sold ever day. Just count all the PRMARK bags when you take a walk through Düsseldorf City on a saturday. These guys make the money.

– Are you selling your stuff only online on dawanda or do you have some point of sales too?
I was selling L’idealista through the barber shop as the owner, who is a great supporter of local artists, was basically presenting them in the shop where people could buy them directly. Worked really fine for a while but for now, I’m just selling my stuff on Dawanda but planning to have my own webshop ready soon too.

– If you’re taking a look to your designs so far, which design is your personal favorite?
That is difficult. More Stagedives is actually very nice but I’m never really satisfied with my stuff. I have so many new ideas in my notebook ( I take notes everyday when i take the tram) and get bored very soon with old stuff. I really like the BEWARE OF EMOTIONAL BLOODSUCKERS a lot. Difficult.

L'idealista interview

– Do you have any plans for the future with L’idealista? What can we expect?
Well, as i said earlier, for now i want to work on my designs and just push out stuff. I don’t have a collection planned for spring, summer or autumn. I hope, that stuff get’s better. One idea which i have in mind is to add some journalism and possibily even starting a magazine with interviews and comments. Also, why not putting out books or records? The mind is restless.


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