The Bold and Filthy – The Mind Behind a FilthyRatBag, Celeste Mountjoy

I don’t know how everyone sees my art – but I know that people seem really fucked up by my age for some reason. I don’t know if it’s because people underestimate youths or if it’s because of the content. I don’t think my age is disregarded, because here we are talking about it.

17 year olds have got it pretty easy nowadays – but for Melbourne artist Celeste Mountjoy, there’s more to her world than just mucking around at the back of class.

If you’re on the internet, you may be familiar with the comic collection created by Mountjoy just by scrolling through your Facebook, Instagram or Tumblr feeds. In 2015, Mountjoy’s success sky-rocketed. After casually posting her artwork on Instagram for friends to see – her work continued to gain more and more support.

From friends to fans, Mountjoy began to gain recognition for her work, and her success continued to flourish. Going by the name “FilthyRatBag”, Mountjoy took over social media and received more than 100,000 followers on multiple social media accounts. “It’s not something I was ever expecting. I don’t know how long it’ll last because the internet is really vast and things come and go, but I’m glad to have received recognition for my drawings like this,” Mountjoy says.

“I do get recognised sometimes in Melbourne, and that’s always really exciting and lovely. I like meeting people who like what I do, and I’ve actually made a lot of my closest friends through my drawings. I also get shit tons of dick pics and requests for photos of my feet.”

From introducing her own range of tote bags and personalized Filthyratbag t-shirts to being featuring in the 2015 annual Viva La Femme all women’s exhibition at Lust for Life Gallery, the success of the seventeen year old continues to reach new levels daily. Mountjoy has been featured in multiple publications including The Fashion Journal, Rookie, The 405 and RCKSTR Mag, and featured on Take 5 with Zan Rowe on Triple J. In 2017, Mountjoy will be joining the likes of Polly Nor, Erika Bowes and Zoe Thomas in London to share her work.

Building upon her collection of witty humour, her creations tell the stories of social awkwardness, the tales of dating and living in the 21st century. Mainly sharing her content on Instagram, Celeste’s unique sketchbook is a favourite to those who adore sarcasm.

Born in Wagga Wagga and raised in Melbourne, Mountjoy describes herself as an average teen with the world at her feet – except she doesn’t feel very responsible. “I still have breakdowns when I’m trying to change my bed sheets (and) I can go without blinking for over eight minutes,” she says.

Whilst attending art school, Mountjoy says she’s “Just trying to float at the moment, and go with what comes my way.” “It’s easy for me to get caught up in what I’m NOT doing rather than what I am doing” she says.

Using her imagination and constant popular culture and things going on around her – whether it be Donald Trump running for President or the daily struggles of a teenage girl, fans of the artist cannot be more grateful for her work. “The idea that something I’ve made can conjure anything in anyone is special on its own and if it’s touching them like that then it’s even better,” Mountjoy says. Her favourite artists include Michael Leunig, Matisse, and Toshio Saeki. “The community of female feminist artists on social media have also been really inspiring, artists like Polly Nor, Frances Cannon and Octoplum are amazing and make me want to keep making.“

The name FilthyRatBag wasn’t just another cheesy Instagram name created to achieve appreciation by other wild teens who use the app, but instead originated from being called a ‘wee filthyratbag’ as a child. “I’ve been brought up by some wonderful lady figures and one bloke figure. They’re all sweet. I have an older sister called Rosie, a kelpie called Diesel and a cat called Pon.”  Mountjoy’s main source of inspiration is her family, who are extremely supportive.

“The first group exhibition my work was in was in Brisbane, where a lot of my family lives. So I invited my grandma. She didn’t say anything until we left, when she looked at me and said, ‘I just don’t get it’. Tried not to take it to heart though.”

Other than her family, Mountjoy’s main sources of inspiration derive from her love for English singer David Bowie. “Bowie influenced and changed me a lot during that weird kid to teenage bridge with his music and him as a person” she says. “I think there was a lot about him that really shook me, but particularly his individuality, sexuality and his songs lyrics. (They were) huge catalysts for figuring myself and my creativity out as I got a bit older”.

It was in 2004 when Mountjoy was only three-four years of age that the young achiever began to fill her first sketchbook – in particular drawing women, beauty queens and mermaids. Growing up, Mountjoy was surrounded by funny and creative people who heavily influenced her to ‘be my own person’. Her creative storytelling flourished from a young age, and often spent her childhood making up stories from scratch – and with age, her stories have become more in depth and factual.  She describes feeling frustrated from a young age for all she had dreamed about was “Wanting to express myself or do things that I wouldn’t be taken seriously for.”

“I still experience that feeling sometimes with my art, the fact that my age is a focal point is interesting,” Mountjoy says.

In the future, Mountjoy is open to what the world will bring in her favour. As long as it’s travelling and always having a sketchbook by her side, she’s simply keen to not over think it.

You can find Celeste’s artwork here.