Brie Moreno is a 21-year-old artist studying at OCAD University in Toronto. Her drawings—and internet presence—is dynamic, vivacious, and, at times, a little cheeky. As Boogerbrie on Instagram, she shares a combination of selfies, drawings, butterfly stickers, and fashion. Her world is as it is in her drawings.
I spoke with her about the characters and narratives in her work, the rich quality of risograph printing, and experimenting like you’re “throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks.”
MINNA GILLIGAN: First, I just have to say that your internet presence has me believing that you are incredibly prolific as an artist! I just finished scrolling for miles through works of yours. Do you see yourself as someone who makes art out of necessity? Like, is it absolutely vital for you to be making?
BRIE MORENO: Drawing is one of the only things that has helped me manage mental illness. Before making comics, I felt like I was driving cruise control on a slippery road. I’m someone who gets satisfaction from constantly doing things, and I get it from my mother.
From what I can see, you largely produce zines, prints, comics, and risographs—all of which have a particular warm, rich quality to them. Are your original drawings done on the computer or by hand?
It’s a fair balance of analog and digital. In the fall, most of my professors at OCAD pushed analog work, so I was doing a lot of watercolor and ink pieces. Sometimes watercolor doesn’t coincide with the mood I have for a final piece, and I will head to digital. Most original comics I’ve made are just sketches that I scan and ink digitally—they’re pretty sloppy.
What is it that you like about the quality of risoprints? And, have you had much trouble gaining access to this older printing technology?
I’ve always loved the look of screen printing. Risograph printing is an easy way to achieve that same quality, but you can produce more work, and faster. Also, the inks come out a lot brighter than digital prints—I melt when I see anything printed in fluorescent pink. I’ve never worked with a risograph printer myself, but I get a lot of my work printed through FORGE. Art Magazine, which has been unbelievably helpful.
The characters you concoct are at times sly, humorous, and exaggerated. Each seems to have a particular agenda or nuance that is unique to that character and imagined circumstance. How would you describe the characters and narratives in your work?
They’re kind but cranky. They love evening gloves and cowboy hats. They probably read too much V.C. Andrews for their own good. Some characters are exaggerations of who they wish they actually were. Most of them are me.
Your use of color is subdued yet very powerful. Because of the quality of your prints, they appear sincere and plush. What is your relationship with color like, and what makes you decide to use it or decide against using it in a work?
I tend to work with the same colors out of habit: scarlet reds, mustards, ochre, salmon pinks. I’ve noticed lately that for some reason I veer away from purples. One of my favorite artists, Maren Karlson, is so good with using purple. It’s inspired me to make sure it has a star role in a piece soon. I guess limiting color down to saturation and brightness allows me to focus on other things, like line quality or even character design. There’s so much to take into consideration that it can be overwhelming sometimes. I’m definitely open to color exploration in the future, and I think working more with more analog mediums will help open up new doors.
What environment do you predominantly create in? Are you lucky enough to have a studio, or are you content with working cross-legged in your bedroom?
I almost exclusively work in my bedroom. I’m close to a sink, have plenty of natural light coming through, and get to work near my best friend/roommate, so I feel really lucky. Maybe one day I’ll be able to ball out and own a studio so I can work on large paintings, but for the time being I’m perfectly content.
Your Instagram is a fantastic space, filled with selfies, pictures of your seemingly beloved shoes, lovingly curated trinkets, and, of course, images of your art. Do you enjoy social media as a platform for yourself and your work?
I’m a very nervous person, and it’s only been in the last year that I’ve been able to comfortably go out and do basic things without having a panic attack. Putting my work on Instagram while simultaneously expressing my interests through what I wear and surround myself with is the easiest way for me to communicate and share ideas with likeminded people without getting too overwhelmed. Like most things, social media has its defects, but it’s comforting to know I can just hit the delete button and take a break from the internet at any time.
Are you ever compelled to explore other mediums? Perhaps paint or even sculpture?
I attended the University of Ottawa’s fine arts program for a year and had to take a sculpture class, so I learned how to weld and work with wood and plaster. I was largely drawn to plaster and mold-making because I loved the textures that could be created with such a harsh material. I used to thrift for questionable cake and jello molds and stick plaster in them to make permanent cakes. That’s something I’m definitely going to revisit, because I still have all those molds lying around at my parents’ house. I also love the idea of using 3D elements in print, like the cover of Confetti by Ginette Lapalme—brilliant!
What is your sketchbook filled with?
Dream diary entries, poems, drawings of found photos, Minnie Mouse, and lots of sexy shoes.
Do you have any exhibitions coming up? If so, what sort of work are you making for them?
I’ll be tabling at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival in May, as well as the Toronto Art Book Fair in June. At the moment, I’m not really focusing on formal exhibitions as much as I am focused on making comics and writing. I’m not sure if I can talk too much about the prints and comics I have planned for the next few weeks, but they’re with some of my most beloved publications.
Who or what are you most inspired by?
Nude tights, eBay, vinegaroons, wicker chairs, my grandmother’s dalmation, my mom, family, friends, animals, familiar smells, nets, and cupid.
What are your aims for yourself and your art practice in the future?
Comics! Hopefully I can work on a lengthy book soon…something with a luxurious storyline that’s vulnerable, funny, and gross. I’m not really sure, though; I’m sort of throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks. I should probably finish my degree soon.
What are three words that describe your artwork?
Mischievous, thrifty, and sensitive. ♦