Feline Friendly Pop Art

Anne-Marie Marquess meets Anarkitty artist, Emma Geary ahead of her latest exhibition, Poisoned Lace

Anarkitty’s images are a modern brand of colourful eclectic pin-ups and style icons with a cat-like curiousity about them - manga meets Marilyn (Monroe or Manson) in a pop art glamour show, which will appeal to both the gothic and the pouting poser in all of us. 

Enchanting and cartoonish, Anarkitty art is hot to trot for the glamour puss that needs to be seen. The images are that of the individual and the message is to be yourself. Feline-friendly and very femine, Anarkitty is cool for cats.

Anarkitty - aka Belfast-based, Emma Geary - studied art and design, specialising in new media at the University of Ulster. After graduating, she worked in London for six years for a number of advertising agencies and graphic design houses. 

Geary started Anarkitty as a showcase for her work after returning to Ireland in 2006. She has been painting full time ever since and her second solo exhibition, Poisoned Lace is set to run in the Frameworks Gallery from November 27 - December 5. 

When did you first become interested in art?
I have been interested in art for as long as I can remember. I was surrounded by a lot of illustrated books that my dad bought me, which really started it I think. 

Funnily, looking back on it, it was the ones that had a slight sinister undertone that interested me the most. For example, John Tenniel's drawings of the Cheshire cat (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland) and the Jabberwocky (Through the Looking-Glass) or the goblins and bad fairies in the book Faeries.

Did you enjoy art at school?
I loved it. It was my favourite subject and I had two brilliant art teachers. My art classes were my fondest memories at school. There was a great feeling of a chilled and inspiring atmosphere. It was the only class I looked forward to doing homework for.

What did you study at art college?
I did a BA(Hons) degree in visual communications and specialised in graphic design and new media. So I didn’t get any formal training for the style or application of the paintings I do now. But I feel that graphics has had a definite influence on my style.

How would you describe your art style? A sort of low-brow art, popular culture, mixing manga with graphic, tattoo and pin-up.

Tell us about the Anarkitty concept? When did you create it? How did it come about?
I think the original Anarkitty concept came from my fascination and love of cats and their esoteric attitude. They know their own minds and have no feeling of restraint from surrounding judgements. 

When I was living in London I became slightly disillusioned with the whole ‘company’ process and went it alone, starting up Anarkitty as a playground for my work. Mostly digital based character illustration. But I always missed drawing by hand and started to try painting as a sideline. It wasn’t until I moved back to Ireland that I started painting and drawing fulltime. 

Then in May of this year I had my first Anarkitty solo exhibition, Skin Deep which was a massive success. There has been a huge demand for my work since which really blows me away! So I’m sticking with it.

What materials do you use to create your work?
Oil paints on canvas. I’m still discovering new ways to use them and other mediums to use with them. This is always scary, but a lot of fun. I also love doing pencil drawings.

Are there any artists that have inspired you?
There are loads of artists who have and still do inspire me. When I was younger it was artists like Brian Fraud, Alan Lee and Rodney Matthews. 

When I was more into graphics it was artists like Furi Furi, Tado, London Police, D*Face, Banksey, and more recently, Lindsay Campbell, Julie West, Stunt Kid, Ray Ceaser, Luke Chueh, Mark Ryden and many more.

Tell us about your up and coming exhibition.
Poisoned Lace is my second solo exhibition at Frameworks Gallery, Belfast. This collection has a slightly darker undertone but each painting is a homage to the individual in all of us and a manifesto for those confident and brave enough to be themselves. 

The launch event for Poisoned Lace takes place at the Frameworks Gallery on Thursday, November 27 at 8pm. The exhibition runs until December 5.