TEENAGE DIRTBAG Saving the world from the sometimes mundane, sometimes crippling complexities of human existence is artist CELESTE MOUNTJOY, one sad comic strip at a time. By Janroe Cabiles
oying with the idea of the collectively shitty parts of human nature, Australian artist Celeste Mountjoy a.k.a. Filthyratbag steals the candid, intimate, and pathetic moments in life and turns them into satirical squares for our sad pleasure. Having her secretly and scarily accurate caricatures featured in Rouse Magazine, Idol Magazine, Sleepover Club Initiative, Polyester Magazine, Fashion Journal, and Dazed Digital, the 16-year old art student puts our social anxiety and discomfort on blast with her lackadaisical sarcasm, but it all once started with darling doodles. “I started drawing when I was about three or four, I think,” she recalls. “My mum started me on it, having red and black pens at the bottom of her bag for me to draw with. My favorite subject was pretty girls: tiny waists and huge boobs, mermaids with curly eyelashes. I liked making stories too.” Ringing in the drastic change from sweet to senile all by herself, she vandalized her own proper sensibility of beauty. “When I got a bit older, I realized I didn’t
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look anything like the beautiful Barbie dolls I idolized so much. As a chubby little 12-year-old, that sort of worried me for awhile and I started feeling uncomfortable in my own skin.” Taking an indefinite hiatus on her formula of beauty she had been used to drawing, she took a turn for better and for worse with exploring different kinds of lines, curves, and looks. “I remember it making me strangely uncomfortable at first; the idea I had was that a drawing of an “ugly” girl or something that wasn’t conventionally beautiful couldn’t look beautiful. But I was wrong, and I sort of fell in love with all the bald lumpy girls I started drawing.” She adds, “Art has definitely shaped a lot of my views on feminism and sexuality.” Taking queues from artists Michael Leunig, Polly Nor, and a dash of David Bowie, she keeps to simple and minimalistic patterns while drawing on funny, blatant dialogue going on around her, translating a wide array of themes like depression, racism, feminism, and politics to personal things like social media, sex, body image, and social anxiety into her blend of empathy and emotion, saying the things we’ve all thought at some point.
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