Celeste Mountjoy Talks @filthyratbag

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Scrolling through the explore page on Instagram, one tends to find a variety of things. Sometimes amidst the coal, you find a big diamond rock. In my case, I stumbled upon a comic by Celeste Mountjoy. And it got me wondering – what does Mountjoy’s alias, filthyratbag even mean?

Under the username filthyratbag, Celeste’s art is savagely honest, straightforward and 100% witty. The young Melbourne-based artist talks about everything from Nicki Minaj’s infamous “What’s good, Miley?” to Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy. Her art is consistently questioning the society we live in and her 30,500 followers on Instagram are pondering with her. So, I decided to interview Celeste about the meaning of filthyratbag and she told me about her inspiration, feminist views and thoughts on today’s youth.

Some of us care about this world and we voice out. You speak through your art. How would you describe yourself and your art?

How my art is interpreted is up to the viewer. I could tell you the meaning behind everything I do…but I think it’s good if people can relate to what I make in all sorts of ways. I know what I am and my drawings don’t always reflect my opinions. Most of the time, I’m not trying to fuck the system or make a huge statement.

Where is your inspiration drawn from?

Different places, and this answer will always change depending on a lot of factors. I think I’ve just trained my brain to always be able to pick things apart and find ideas. A lot of the characters are based on different parts of people I’ve encountered. Honestly, I love my characters. I feel like they’re my babies.  

So, you’re like an art mami – with clear feminist views. Why is this important?

Really, I could talk about this for a while. But for now – all I’ll say is every woman should research feminism and their rights. As should men. There are many reasons and I think it’s important that women in particular are educated on this topic.

Your art plays an educator’s role, too. When did it kick off?

When I started posting comics, people seem to relate to it. So, it grew.  

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Aesthetically speaking, how did you find your style?

I’ve been drawing all my life. When you really love something, practicing it consistently isn’t really an issue. I just experiment and not get too comfortable. At the moment, I know what works for me. But, it changes all the time.

What other artists do you follow on Instagram?

@dulcist, @pollynor, @mudblooddead, @ghostsinmyramen, @francescannon, @theohuxx, @mattblease…

I found you online and a lot of people including myself enjoy your illustrations. How is your art received offline?

I’m glad you enjoy my stuff. All my friends and family are actually really supportive of what I do. They’re always at my exhibitions, buying things and giving me love.

That support is fantastic! You’re still in school, too. How do you juggle it all?

I don’t. I am literally riddled with angst.

Some of your work may make some people feel uncomfortable. But, that’s when you know what you’re doing is working. Has anyone voiced out their discomfort to you?

Yeah, some people seem to get really offended when I draw naked or hairy ladies. But, they are all so fucking boring. Get over it. Some ladies are hairy! Breasts are real in life and not just in porn.

True that. I’m curious to know – where did ‘filthyratbag’ originate from?

When I was little and did shitty things my mum’s partner used to call me ‘wee filthyratbag’. Only she had a Scottish accent so it was great. I just started tagging my work with that one day.

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What are other female artists that inspire you to do the work you do?

I like Tracey Emin. I like Pollynor. I like Dulcist. I like Frida Kahlo. I like Yoko Ono. I like Frances Cannon.

Brilliant names! Kinda cliché but what’s your 2016 plan?

I’ll be going to art school. I’ll make more art and some clothes.

Words by Ann Irvina Ravinther.

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