5 Questions with Brie Moreno

“All of those pop culture references that I come across on the internet filter into my work, whether I’m aware of it or not.” Brie Moreno's drawings are at once strange and inviting, otherworldly and comfortingly childlike.

Brie Moreno’s colourful illustrations are a bit like a hall of mirrors, where the mirrors don’t just warp and distort your body, but mutate and morph it: seemingly human figures have blue skin and insects have blonde-haired heads. It is a party of weirdos, drawing from the aesthetics of naive and folk art, weaving contemporary references into a psychedelic and nostalgic landscape.

Working mostly from her bedroom using felt tips and newsprint, Moreno has produced editorial work for a number of magazines, created her own publications and is currently working on a book with art publisher Nieves.

Your drawings are surreal and slightly retro/psychedelic, but they also seem incredibly contemporary—how do you strike that balance?

I think the materials I use really dictate the tone of the work, and nostalgia seems to be the main feeling produced. The combination of off-white paper and loose, naive felt-tip strokes are nods to a lot of my favourite folk art and outsider artists who made work in the sixties, like Mingering Mike and Royal Robertson.

What are your favourite materials to work with?

Lately I’ve been working exclusively with felt tips and newsprint. I’m making a book for Nieves and I want the works to look cohesive and complement one another. Most of my drawings are around A3 size, so I think once this book is finished I’ll move onto working with graphite and coloured pencil on A4 as well as working on more comics which will be risograph printed.

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You’re a pretty active user of social media, especially Tumblr and Instagram. How do you feel your use of the internet has informed what you do?

I’ve mainly used social media to assist in getting my work out there, as well as to connect with other people my age doing the same thing. The more time I spend on it the more I’ve become aware of trends in fashion, music, illustration, etc. All of those pop culture references that I come across on the internet filter into my work, whether I’m aware of it or not. Websites like Tumblr and Instagram act as an online mood board for everything I create and they’ve been such useful tools in expanding my interests and ideas.

Who are the characters in your comics? Do you have particular ones that you return to again and again?

I think they’re all different aspects of my personality. Physically they all look a little bit different and more extreme than myself—yet I still feel a connection to them. I think that’s bound to happen when most of the work I create is about myself and what I surround myself with.

In terms of recurring characters, when I begin a new comic I always revisit older illustrations and see if I could use any of them for a story. I have yet to repeat the same character I’ve drawn in a comic for another story, but I think it’s due to my restlessness and tendency to get bored very easily. In the future I would like to create a series with a permanent character, I just haven’t created the right one yet.

You moved from Canada to London fairly recently—what effect has this relocation had on your work?

I’m definitely less isolated here, so there’s more content for stories and new ideas. Back in Canada I was hibernating in the winter and spending time with my family so there weren’t too many juicy tales to tell. I did manage to get a lot more work done due to the isolation, but I don’t think that it was the best for my mental health. Moving here has definitely made creating work a lot more fun and lighthearted. I get excited to go out and explore London and all the museums and galleries and bring those muses back into my practice. I’m also constantly surrounded by comic artists and illustrators who all are striving to do similar things as myself, which is comforting. Overall it’s the nicest place I’ve ever lived, and the happiness this city has brought me has made my comics a lot more colourful and optimistic.