Meet @FilthyRatBag: The Teen Illustrator Who's Wittier And Darker Than You
Melbourne native Celeste Mountjoy, aka Filthy Ratbag, is so wise beyond her years she'll make you feel inadequate as an adult. Focusing on the bullshit of modern life, she turns the scenes of our contemporary life into intellectual satire in the form of politically-charged, sarcastic, humorous and oddly relatable comics that poke fun at some of humanity’s shittiest and hidden attributes - because if we can’t have a laugh at ourselves we haven't got much else, eh?
Her illustrations tap into all kids of global issues, toying with everything from Donald Trump to Kim Kardashian, uber-feminism, mental illness, social media vanity and generally all that millennials concern themselves with these days.
For someone who is only 16, her Instagram is a goldmine of cynical dark humour that seamlessly mixes comedy with tragedy to create a merciless, yet sophisticated caricature of everyday life. Needless to say, her work is a far cry from our mid-teen doodles.
Konbini caught up with the Insta prodigy to learn more about her witty, satirical humour.
Konbini: Where did the handle @FilthyRatbag come from?
Celeste Mountjoy: My other mum is Scottish and used to call me a 'wee filthyratbag' when I was younger and being a lil shit, when I started uploading my art at 14 it was semi daunting because I didn't know how it would be received and my drawings are also pretty personal. So filthyratbag was sort of something to hide behind. It's just stuck with me.
You’ve described your art as “cynical dark humour” - that’s quite a tongue-in-cheek analysis for a teen (said without being patronising, obvs). Where do you think that comes from?
I think that's the label I received when I started publishing my comics. Dark, edgy, cynical, edgy, edgy, sad, meme. However, I don't think it makes sense to say that's tongue in cheek, considering I very seldom meet teenagers that don't embody a dark edgy cynical edgy edgy sad vibe. I never decided that's the style I wanted to hit, but being someone who feels sad things it feels right to draw what you feel.
"I think if you can try turn something spooky into something light hearted it takes some stigma and weight off the heaviness of a situation"
Speaking of patronising… Either this generation is the wittiest, or you’re way more mature than most 16-year-olds. Do you think you’re more aware than your peers or do you think older people tend to underestimate teens?
I don't think either of the two apply. There are definitely things you can only experience and learn about through ageing and time, but time still isn't something that defines character to the T.
I've met some old dickheads and young ones and some older and younger people who I find inspiring and intelligent. Some people don't grow up until they're 30 and some do it far earlier. Pauline Hanson [former conservative Member of the Australian House of Representatives known for her populist, anti-multiculturalism views] is 62.
The topics and characters in your illustrations are always quite bleak yet extremely relatable, where do you find inspiration for them?
I don't think I could ever run out of inspiration when there are so many people and happenings to draw inspiration from. I feel like a lot of my comics are just over the top diary entries, I can look back on some of them and suss exactly where I was at that point in time. I made my character Sally as a sort of concentrated version of my worst parts. Depression the cat is pretty self explanatory, I think he's my favourite character.
You dwell on everything from pop culture, sex and feminism to racism and politics. Are your illustrations more of a critique of society or kind of a way to laugh in times of frustration?
Both. A lot of things going on in the world are shit and by bringing attention to that using something that entertains people I'd like my comics to be a catalyst for awareness amongst people about these shitty things.
Since you’re probably more aware than most grown-ups out there, do you have any advice for struggling millennials?
Be nice to ur ma.
Read More -> Your existential quarter life crisis, illustrated
By Olivia Cassano, published on 14/07/2016