April 3, 2015

Spotlight: Brie Moreno

Curious, lively, fuzzy, milky, optimistic.

Inspired by alt comics and zine culture, Brie Moreno’s drawings are youthful, bold, and just a bit unsettling. In her own words, her work is “reminiscent of things you might find in a math exercise book for a grade one class”. In the vein of Esther Pearl Watson (known best for her comics in Bust Magazine), Brie draws over the top characters that often subvert ultra-feminine ideals. Her use of personal experiences in her drawings makes them delightfully accessible, so much so that looking at them almost feels like you’re part of an inside joke. I caught up with Brie and we talked about inspirations, zines, and dreams of professional dog walking.

THE LE SIGH: How much of your drawings are based off of real-life experience? 

BRIE MORENO: Almost all of my drawings are based off things I’ve observed or rituals I find myself doing throughout the day. Sometimes I filter my experiences through made up characters and fabricate a more elaborate story to keep things entertaining for myself. More than anything, I like to make a visual diary with most of my drawings since I usually find it difficult to fit all my feelings throughout the day into writing.

TLS: What things inspire your work the most?

BM: Early mornings, coffee, street style, my friends, dollar stores, thrift stores, silk folds, dingy motels, waiting room art, novelty mugs, animals, reading zines, going to the National Gallery of Canada, everyday objects like soap and bowls, opal jewelry, and my room when it’s clean.

TLS: Feminist themes appear a lot in your work. Would it be fair to say that a lot of your work critiques societal constructs of femininity?

BM: Yes, I think it’s something that I try and touch on in my work. I feel like a lot of the characters I draw don’t fit society’s version of what it means to be feminine and I don’t always do it on purpose but it’s something that I think about a lot. It bothered me growing up that I didn’t see myself in cartoons or books I would read, so now I use my drawings as a reflection of myself and perhaps how others might view themselves - a little different but still beautiful.

TLS: Being only 19, do you think your age is an important aspect of your work?

BM: I think in terms of developing my style age played a part just because as I kept practicing I naturally improved. I think in reference to the subjects I focus on and the content, age is important because I draw mainly about being a young adult and my experiences. That being said, I also think that I’ll always have a youthful approach to anything I draw no matter what age.

TLS: What are five words you would use to describe your work?

BM: Curious, lively, fuzzy, milky, optimistic

TLS: If you could pick a dream job, what would it be?

BM: The dream would be able to make a living off of selling zines and prints while working as a professional dog walker on the side.

TLS: Are there any parallels between your work and your personal style? How do you see the two in relation to each other? 

BM: I think my personal style and my work meet cohesively. I think it’s important to surround myself with things I find motivating and inspiring in order to bring out the most in my artwork. There’s definitely a conversation that happens between the two that’s hard for me to even articulate.

TLS: Are there any other mediums that you work in besides illustration?

BM: When I attended Ottawa U I worked with plaster for the first time in a sculpture class I was required to take. I fell in love with the process of creating with it and made some of my favourite work through sculpture. Papier mache is another form of sculpture that I’ve really been digging lately, because of how accessible it is to make.

TLS: Who are some of your favorite female and non-binary artists on tumblr?

BM: I was actually talking to my friends the other day about how almost all of our favourite artists are women or non-binary, a thought we were ecstatic to realize. I love JMKE, Kendra Yee, Maren Karlson, Ginette Lapalme, Misaki Kawai, Chloe Wise, Lindsay Bottos, Amy Lockhart, Lauren Cook, Tomoko Taniguchi, Luisa Rodriguez, Hobbes Ginesberg, Saicoink, Betty Liang, Cheyenne Sophia, Laurence Philomene, Amy Stober, Arvida Bystrom, Nyssa Sharp, Grace Miceli, and so many more I honestly could gush about how much I love these artists forever and ever.

TLS: What direction do you see your work/art practice headed in?

BM: I love art that serves a functional purpose, so in the near future I’m going to try and make my own t-shirts and caps! Speaking in the far off future I would like to make a comic book or children’s book- as much as I love sculpture I know that my future will always consist of drawing.

TLS: What stuff have you been into lately? 

BM: Art-wise I’ve really been into making soft sculptures out of old clothes and fabric swatches (although I’m just in the planning stage right now because I still have to  get all my old clothes from back home). Claes Oldenburg’s soft sculptures in particular were a big influence on me when I started getting more involved in creating art. I would constantly look to his work for inspiration- even though drawing was my primary medium. As for music I’ve been listening to a lot of bands from Ottawa like New Swears, Organ Eyes, Peach Kelli Pop, Swollen Eyes etc. probably because I’m a little homesick.

Check out more of Brie’s work on her blog.

Lindsay Bottos is an artist/writer/cyber babe living in Baltimore with her cat Weenie. You can see more of her work here and follow her blog here.