There is a definitive juxtaposition lingering amongst the teenagers of today. Brought up in a digitalized world, the kids are either heavily filtered victims of the voyeuristic gaze of a stranger scrolling through their feed or digital refugees attempting to escape the media obsessed world and gain back the real life experience that has now become a subject of nostalgic reminiscence.

It is difficult to find a balance between these two worlds of existential anguish and friction. However, the 16-year-old Australian illustrator Celeste Mountjoy a.k.a Filthyratbag has found a way. Focusing on the bullshit of the contemporary world, she turns the scenes of modern life into an intellectual satire of me, you and everyone we know.

Whilst embedding herself into the illustrations, Mountjoy mercilessly pokes fun of the hypocritical and pseudointellectual garbage surrounding us and the world we live in. From Donald Trump dressed as Kim Kardashian to hypocritical do-gooders of the modern day, looking at her illustrations becomes an equivalent of taking that clichéd long hard look in a mirror. Except that in this case, the mirror is a crude, yet sophisticated caricature of our everyday life. Intrigued by the sheer brilliance of her work, I talked to Celeste about social media, people watching and becoming Insta famous overnight.


Hi Celeste! How are you?

Hello, I am good!

Can you tell me a bit about the person behind Filthyratbag? Also - where does your artist name come from?

I come from Melbourne Australia and I've been drawing since I was very small, it's my favourite thing. When I used to do sneaky shit as a kid my mums partner Linda would call me "a wee filthyratbag" only she has a Scottish accent so it sounded great.

Your illustrations are highly satirical and comment on popular culture and world politics in an incredibly poignant way yet you are only 16 years old. Do you think that growing up in a digital media obsessed culture has influenced you as an illustrator?

I think there are many aspects of today's society that influence my art and cynical dark humour. I don't necessarily think it's all doom and gloom like a lot of people would assume from what I draw about, it's just a funny way to look at things. There are in fact lots of things I love about the world.

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I've read articles on generation Z's flee from social media and I also sort of see your work as a critique towards the social media obsessed culture we inhabit. Do you think your generation is more and more aware of our societal issues? Do you find it paradoxical when you see people sharing your stuff on their social media regardless of its message that could be seen as anti-social media?

I don't like to think that the message in my work is "anti-social media" per se, in fact, I wouldn't like to think my work is anti very much at all, it's just looking at things from different perspectives rather. If I didn't have social media, chances are I wouldn't have a career or have met any of the amazing people I have with it. There are good bits and bad bits to everything; I think that's what I'd like to concentrate on.

What I've noticed (and loved) about your illustrations is that no one can really read into them and find out anything about your political views. They're very deadpan and critiquing everything from vanity to sex, from über-feminism to racism. You seem very aware of the fact that you can't change the system but you can critique it from within. Do you find it frustrating? Also - are you satirizing yourself in them?

Yeah I definitely have pretty set views on the things I draw about or write about, but I don't like to make them that obvious. Everyone has different beliefs and it wouldn't resonate with as many people if I made the ideas brutally obvious. People can take what they want from it.

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Your characters are very real. Where do you find an inspiration for them? Is it people you encounter on daily basis?

I like people watching and sussing out people's motives and characters, and sometimes parts of them end up in my work. I can take things from almost any conversation or situation I'm in and manipulate and change it until I have an idea. In saying that I also feel like I am in a lot of my characters- particularly the shittier parts of myself. But in saying all this I think some people might think I'm just analysing everything they're saying when we talk and thinking of a way to turn them into a caricature, that's not the case. U r ok.

As social media is so embedded in our culture these days, how important do you think it is for artists? Do you think it is the only way to get the mass audience to concentrate on societal issues like the ones you bring up in your illustrations?

Social media has given me so many opportunities I wouldn't have had without it, and I've seen it do the same for many other artists too.

It's definitely made it easier to reach more people, but it's not like I'm trying to start a societal/political revolution or anything by reaching 'the masses', I think I just draw what I'm thinking about and it's nice if that makes someone think too.

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You're definitely on the verge of hype and fame. Do you find it strange or overwhelming - particularly when the people who are praising you are often the kind of characters you criticize?

It's been overwhelming gaining a bigger audience definitely, I feel like I had more freedom to do whatever before but now I'm being watched by lots of eyes. It's not a bad thing, I just initially felt like I had to cater to everyone (which I now realise is not a viable option).

I appreciate any praise, and the support I've received has built me up and made me keep sailing even when I'm doubting myself, I appreciate that no end.

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Now that we are thinking about the future - what would you like to achieve as an illustrator?

I honestly have no clue I'm just gonna keep drawing and doing my thing and hopefully at some point in the next year I can start up my clothes line.

Finally - what's the Filthyratbag's message to the humanity?

Don't be shit.


Follow Filtyratbag on Instagram.