Ruth Mora is a young and beautiful hispanic artist from the Los Angeles area that is making waves with her fantastic artwork. If you’re like us, you may have stumbled upon her very powerful and colorful illustrations on your Instagram feed (under the handle “_meanmachine”). We were obviously hooked at first sight and needing more. However, if you’re one of the unlucky few that hasn’t seen her drawings on your feed (damn algorithm!), we’re honored to feature some of this brilliant artist’s work on Ponyboy for your enjoyment.
Mora’s work is playful and witty, as well as being politically and socially conscious in an era of social unrest. The bold and beautiful illustrations scream for attention – whether it’s a sexy, strong feminist woman beating up a cop, or punk legend Dave Vanian from the Damned. We know a good thing when we see it, and anticipate huge things for this newcomer. Is it too much that we fantasize mass produced posters and t-shirts, a thick coffee table book, as well as huge paintings in fine art galleries? Her work is the pop art of the new generation!
All artwork courtesy of Ruth Mora.
PONYBOY: You’re from Los Angeles. Tell us about your upbringing.
RUTH MORA: Greetings Ponyboy Mag! Yes, I was born and raised in Los Angeles. I grew up in the city of Bell. I’m a second generation Mexican-American, my parents and my siblings were all born in Mexico. Growing up I had a single mother who worked a lot so I spent most of my time hanging out with my sisters. They were in high school when I was a kid so they taught me about cool bands like the Velvet Underground. They would also give me paints and crayons to occupy myself when I was bored, which ended up turning into my vice and passion, haha. THANKS A LOT, SISTERS.
PONYBOY: Did you go to school for art?
RUTH MORA: Like I mentioned before, I’ve been drawing since I was a wee lass, and I never stopped doing it really, it was a coping mechanism and form of escapism for me growing up. Once I graduated high school though, I began to wonder if I could make a career from it because it’s the one thing I was absolutely in love with my whole life. I ended up going to community college for a few years taking art classes there, before transferring to Art Center College of Design for a degree in Illustration and Design.
PONYBOY: Your website describes you as an illustrator/designer. However, we think of you as an artist more than anything. Would you agree?
RUTH MORA: I guess at the core of it, I’m an artist. But I like to say I’m an illustrator and designer within the professional realm. There’s so many different types of artists and adding the title of illustrator and designer sort of helps distinguish what kind of work I do, I think. I still have a hard time fitting myself and my work into a box, though.
PONYBOY: Your colorful images are filled with things that we love, for example, women with big hair and punk idols. Where would you say your inspiration comes from?
RUTH MORA: Ah yes, I love big hair and punk so you nailed it. I’m obsessed with fashion from the 1950’s-1980’s! I also love bouffants, Mod, Space Age, juvenile delinquency, girl gangs, Drag, and super villains! Music and movies are a big deal to me and I do draw a lot of inspiration from them! Some of my favorite bands are Xray Spex, Ramones, New York Dolls, Wayne County and the Electric Chairs, Velvet Underground, Iggy and the Stooges, The Cramps…some of my favorite movies are Faster Pussycat Kill Kill, Mars Attacks, Suburbia, Repo Man, To Won Foo Thanks for Everything, Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble, Return of the Living Dead and Cry Baby!
PONYBOY: Super fab. Has your work been exhibited?
RUTH MORA: I honestly haven’t been a part of many exhibitions! I was recently a part of an online exhibition called Quarantine Cuties, and last year I was a part of a gallery show called Blah Blah Cloud Machine in Long Beach, CA. They were both super fun to make work for and I would love the opportunity to be a part of more.
PONYBOY: Who are some of the clients/artists/friends that you’ve collaborated with?
RUTH MORA: I recently collaborated with Nikita from Doodad + Fandango which was a lot of fun! She makes pop art earrings and accessories and she made some super cool earrings out of my drawings!
PONYBOY: Your artwork is fun and quirky; however, it’s also quite powerful with the imagery and messages. Tell us your thoughts about the climate today with regards to the horrible death of George Floyd, systemic racism, the protests, Black Lives Matter, etc. We see these themes in your more recent work.
RUTH MORA: All the stuff that has been coming to light lately with the horrible racist acts that have been happening around the U.S. which has been awful. It’s saddening and infuriating that things like this are still occurring. I have been trying to do my part in helping the movement by creating artwork thats empowering and in support of BLM, and also I have been donating a percentage of my sales to BLM.
PONYBOY: That’s fantastic. And how has the coronavirus impacted your life and art?
RUTH MORA: Well aside from the constant health anxiety it’s brought up, the coronavirus, and more specifically the quarantine, made me focus on my artwork more. Being home all the time put me on a strict schedule of working and drawing in order to keep myself from losing my shit. This in turn made me draw more, as well as post more art on instagram, which brought more business to my page.
PONYBOY: Artists have always struggled with the constant battle for gaining recognition and selling their work. You have quite a large number of followers on Instagram. What effect has social media/Instagram had on building your name?
RUTH MORA: I’m really grateful for the platform that is Instagram. It has a lot of flaws but it’s definitely been the source of my art business. Its helped me connect with other people and artists, and it has also helped others connect with my work. It’s 100% where all my sales and clientele comes from.
PONYBOY: Tell us how living in Los Angeles is reflected in your work?
RUTH MORA: Being an L.A. native reflects in my work quite a bit I think. The language I use in my illustrations, the subject matter, I draw a lot of cityscapes…I like to think Chicanx culture is embedded into some of my work because it’s a part of who I am.
PONYBOY: It definitely is. Who would you say are some of your favorite artists?
RUTH MORA: Ryan Heshka, Raymond Pettibon, Kristen Liu-Wong, Luke Pelletier, Pippa Toole, Marena Skinner, Tim O’Hanlon, Kim Thompson, Bijou Karman…these are just a few on my list.
PONYBOY: We also saw on Instagram that you are a tattoo apprentice. Tell us about this new chapter in your life?
RUTH MORA: Yes! I am apprenticing at Dreamland Tattoo. I’m super stoked I am finally being given the chance to learn how to tattoo. It’s something I have been wanting for a long time as I am a fan of the trade.
PONYBOY: If you could collaborate with anyone, who would be your dream client?
RUTH MORA: Maybe Dr. Martens Boots. Or Iggy Pop. Or Rupaul.
PONYBOY: What can we expect from you and your artwork in the future?
RUTH MORA: I never really know what to expect from myself in terms of the content of my work, but I am going to keep making prints and other merch. I would love to make a clothing line at some point. I’d love to do some murals. I’d love to be a part of some shows, but that probably won’t happen any time soon because of the virus? Oh and you can expect tattoos! Lots of tattoos. Thanks Ponyboy! Till next time!