Self-portrait by Olivia Moriarty.

Self-portrait by Olivia Moriarty.

Our latest bad girl painter is 18-year-old artist Olivia Moriarty, whose name you truly cannot spell without ART. Olivia has always been known as the arty kid, persistently drawing her concise and linear works at any spare moment. The characters and narratives she weaves in her ink drawings and linocuts are based on hybrid ideas of the self.

I spoke to Olivia, who lives in Australia, about her habits when making art, her fascination with “wordless stories,” and what she intends to do after graduating high school.


MINNA GILLIGAN: How old are you, and how long have you been *seriously* making art?

OLIVIA MORIARTY: I’m 18 and I’ve been making art seriously for a few years, although really I’ve been making art in general, non-stop, for my whole life. Everyone has always known me as the “arty kid” at school, and drawing is so second nature to me that there isn’t really much of a particular beginning point.

Do you belong to an artistic family, or the complete opposite? Do you find that your family supports your creative endeavors?

My parents are both super-creative people—my dad has always been in a band and my mum is the queen of unfinished art projects. My family is definitely supportive, which is really great!

What are your go-to materials when making art?

Black India ink! And 0.5 and 0.2 Artline drawing pens, and nice thick paper. I also use gouache and colored inks sometimes, as well acrylic paint and magazine clippings.

What compels you to make a work of art?

Honestly? I think it’s mostly out of habit. Drawing is what I always want to be doing. Like, if I haven’t made any art for a while I’ll start to get antsy and stressed about it.

Your drawings are very concise and linear. Your newest works are reminiscent of comic book stories—is narrative important to your work?

Narrative is super important in my work. I really like the idea of wordless stories, and I try to explore that a lot through my comics—telling the story through the movement and placement of the characters instead of with words. I also tend to make the comics kind of open-ended, so they don’t have much of a beginning or an ending, more just a piece of a bigger story for the viewer to work out.

Who are the people in your drawings? Are they characters inspired by friends and family or are they entirely fictional?

Most of my characters are technically fictional; however, due to the fact that I almost always use photos of myself for pose references, they all mostly end up being based around myself. I also tend to base the character around the situation that they’re in. I always work out the storyline or the background before I decide on the person’s appearance.

Many of the protagonists in your work are female, which is obviously super cool! Is there a reason for this?

Again, one of the reasons is that I use photos of myself for pose references. So most people I draw have my own body with someone else’s head stuck on top. But aside from this, I think drawing girls is just more automatic for me.

A lot of your works have black backgrounds or large areas of black. I like how this makes your style look very clear-cut, almost like linocuts or prints. Have you experimented with lino before?

Yes! I did my senior art assignment on linocuts! Lino is definitely a medium that I really like (despite the sliced fingers from the carving tools). I love the physicality of the process and all the hands on work that is involved. I’m still experimenting with my linoprint style though, especially in a storytelling context.

It also seems as though you use color minimally. Is there reason for that? I think that sometimes holding back on color can make it far more powerful.

I really like the high-contrast effect that can be made when only using black and white, especially with bold blocks and lines. When I do use color, it’s also bold and bright, and I think I just like the neat, simple look it gives to my art.

Have you had the opportunity to exhibit your artworks anywhere in a gallery context?

Not so much yet, but some of my work is going into an exhibition later in the year, which I am very excited about! And I had a self-portrait hanging in the Art Gallery of South Australia for a student program last year.

Do you use social media to display your artworks? I like Instagram in a sense that it can be like an online gallery space that is accessible to anyone. What’s your relationship with Instagram?

I only occasionally post my art on Instagram because I really just use it for personal stuff (selfies). Mostly I display my artwork on Tumblr, both on my personal blog and the one I use as my portfolio, just because I have a bigger following there so it can be seen by a wider audience.

What are your future plans for yourself and your artistic practice?

I’m going to art school next year, which should be great! I’m just going to keep making art!

What are three words that would describe your artwork?

Linear, contrasting, chill. ♦

If you’re a bad-person painter and want me to check out your work, please email [email protected] with the subject line “Bad girl painter.” Please include a link to your blog, Instagram, or website.