We're such a fan of body positive artists (a whole wall in our shop is dedicated to bopo art!), which is why we put together this post on body positive artists.
We have several prints by Mollie Cronin of Art Brat Comics, and we want to share Mollie's awesome-ness with the rest of the internet, in an interview!
Let's get started:
PBK: Okay, let's start at the beginning. When did you begin creating art?
Mollie: I’ve always drawn but I didn’t start working in cartoons and illustrations until I was finished university (2015). I technically went to art school but I did almost no art making while I was there, I was studying art history and thought I would become a curator or an art historian. And I do actually work in that field! I don’t currently illustrate full time. But I grew up with parents who were artists/in the art world so I’ve always been immersed in it. that’s where “art brat” comes from - it’s like a riff on the idea of an army brat or a navy brat - my sisters and I call ourselves art brats because we grew up in this weird and wonderful way surrounded by all of these artists.
But the summer after I graduated from university (2015) I was having this frustrating day at work and I drew this little caricature of myself showing how cranky I was. And something clicked. I went home and drew all of these other cartoons about myself and my life, and it’s been pretty non stop ever since then!
PBK: Omg love that backstory on the name. When did you make the jump to being a professional artist?
Mollie: I never have! I’m easing my way into it, it’s been a slow learning process and I definitely still have a lot more to figure out before I commit to it full time. I work freelance in other fields (curation, arts writing, etc.) and I’m liking splitting my time between these different projects and jobs at the moment. And I don’t consider myself an artist, I’d say I’m an illustrator and cartoonist.
PBK: Makes sense! Lots of folks are "slash" professionals, doing more than one thing! What themes do you explore in your work?
Mollie: I tend to think of my work in two categories: illustrations and cartoons. In the illustrations I explore themes of fat positivity by drawing beautiful/funny/ sometimes sloppy fat babes , usually naked and usually covered in tattoos. I started out drawing portraits of myself like this.
My weight has fluctuated a lot in my life but I was very thin when I was in university and gained a lot of weight in the years following. And I was really hard on myself at first - this wasn’t the narrative I was supposed to follow. I had been fat, then I got skinny, and I wasn’t supposed to get fat again. So I turned to illustration as a way to combat my insecurities and to kind of talk myself into loving my body.
I’d always loved figure drawing (drawing from a live nude model) and my favorite models were always the fattest women (they’re just the most interesting to draw!), so I took that love I had for drawing their bodies and turned it towards myself.
Nowadays I work less in self-portraiture and try to represent different fat bodies, though people usually assume I’m the inspiration for all of the figures! If I am it’s only subconsciously… which is very possible!
In my cartoons I’m still working a lot with self portraiture. I focus on gender dynamics, usually within romantic/sexual relationships. But while I’m a real character in these comics I don’t include portraits of real men I’ve dated - they’re always composites, and the stories I tell are also. It’s not funny for me to put one guy I’ve dated on blast, I think it’s funnier to tease out the more complex and broader narratives in that relationship and make a caricature of it/him.
Jokes are only funny if other people relate to them, they can’t just be for me. I also talk a lot about where I live. I write cartoons for a local paper and have a lot of fun with the Halifax content, but I think my out of town followers probably get a bit lost on those ones. But I love this place (as much as it frustrates me sometimes) and I love getting to reflect my experiences of living in Nova Scotia back into my cartoons.
PBK: Looking at your work, there's a distinct color palette you use. How did you settle on the color palette for Art Brat Comics?
Mollie: I really think I just don’t have a great sense of colour! But also I just love black and white / grey scale, and red is my favorite colour (and it pairs so easily with greyscale) so a lot of the time my illustrations end up with these White Stripes album cover palettes. I’m learning to work with colour more now that I’m starting to work digitally, but I still just have a soft spot for the graphic quality of a black and white image.
PBK: OMG, I never would have guessed that. Gray scale/black and white makes for great tattoos, and we love seeing folks get your work tattooed!
How does this work? I've seen the “Tattoo Coupons” on your store?
Mollie: It was something I had seen other artists on instagram do (Frances Cannon for one) and it seemed like such a simple solution! It’s partly about me getting paid for my work but also partly about people asking me before they use my image.
The conflation of access and ownership is such a problem for art online, I love getting to share what I make with so many people but also means that my work is more likely to get stolen. So the tattoo tickets are an easy way for people to ask me before they use my image, it’s just a courtesy thing.
It also gives me a chance to help them in the process, I will send them a high res scan of the image for them to take to their tattoo artist (if I have a copy on hand), or make sure they don’t want to tattoo someone else’s custom design, etc.
But I love when people tattoo my art! I don’t have any tattoos myself (which I think surprises a lot of people when they see my drawings) and it blows my mind every time someone puts something i’ve made on their bodies forever.
PBK: We love the inked fat babes you draw! Do you use a printer? That is to say, after someone orders a piece, what’s the process to create it?
Mollie: Currently I’m doing everything by hand! I don’t have prints (although a friend recently made me some beautiful screen prints that I’m so excited about) so I hand copy every piece. So if I’m making a copy of something I traces it with my light table (just a box with a glass top and a light bulb inside).
I do everything with artists quality permanent markers and pens on watercolour paper. I’m looking into getting prints made (I find navigating that kind of stuff really confusing! Which is why I’ve been DIY’ing it for so long) and I’m really excited for how easy that will make everything.
PBK: OMG we can't wait for prints! (And totes, maybe, cough cough). Switching topics: How would you describe your style?
Mollie:I'd say most of the time I'm going for hot clown! When I went to art school I always dressed in black, but now all I want to wear are bright colours and clashing patterns.
My outfits are definitely pretty bold (from my custom denim trench hand-painted with my nude babes, to my favourite metallic jumpsuit), but I love a vintage look too (my exaggerated cat eye glasses, leopard print, hourglass silhouettes, etc.). I feel like as time goes on I'm becoming more and more like the cartoon version/caricature of myself!
PBK: You can only watch ONE television show for a year, what do you pick?
Mollie: No question. Gilmore Girls. I pretty much watch it non stop anyway!
PBK: OMG YUS, a kindred spirit! I have a BFF I call Rory (I'm Lorelai, ofc). What’s coming up on the horizon for you, or what do you want to show up?
Mollie: I’m excited to be getting prints made because it’s such a basic thing I haven’t done yet, but I also really want to get into more merch (shirts, totes, pins, etc.).
I’m working on a lot of exciting commissions at the moment and I can’t speak about them just yet, but you’re going to see art brat comics pop up in some really cool and surprising places next year! My ultimate goals are to do a book (probably of semi-autobiographical cartoons rather than illustrations), which I think is a shorter term goal because I can realistically see me doing it in the next few years, and long term dream is to have a cartoon in The New Yorker.
PBK: OMG seeing your work in The New Yorker would be amazing. Anything else you’d like us to know?
Mollie: Fun facts about me:
- I have a birthmark on my thigh that is shaped like an angler fish
- I grew up playing violin, viola, and oboe, but I don’t know if I could play any of them now
- I hate pineapples but love them on pizza
- I speak french
- I got to fly* a plane before I got my driver’s license (*ok maybe just HELP fly it…)
PBK: Mollie, you are such a treasure. Thank you for taking the time to be interviewed. Can you share your social media info?
About Plus BKLYN