A self-described “professional doodler,” Kristy Moreno, a.k.a. Ratsy, provides a well of warmth and positivity within the lines of her illustrations, zines, ceramics, paintings and animations. You may have even seen some of her art gracing the Santa Ana streets: on a utility box on Harbor and McFadden (near the Observatory) or next to the downtown record store Left of the Dial. Moreno says her work is “visual poetry—but if we want to get technical, then I’d say it was lowbrow art.”
The Inglewood-born, Santa Ana-based artist credits cartoons such as The Powerpuff Girls, her dad’s doodles of cars and the street artist Banksy for kickstarting her interest in art (Moreno even coined her name Ratsy as an homage to Banksy, who would often include rats in his works). She came of age in the Santa Ana-based art-and-music collective Konsept (with then-collaborator Chip Monk as part of the art duo We Are Rodents). But since 2013, she has worked solo, only occasionally joining forces with fellow artists from the Santa Ana artist scene to inject her inner tenderness in visually striking pieces.
Many of Ratsy’s works meditate on love, social justice, sustainability and good ol’-fashioned kindness. A series of surreal paintings and illustrations features bug-eyed, feminine characters, funky shapes and bold colors, but also a feminist, girl power sensibility, which is especially evident with scenes of bad girl types hanging out in public spaces or angst-ridden women brooding in their own space. Her zines, which she collaborates on with friends, are interactive and personal and include poetry, coloring-book illustrations and mixtape lists.
Currently, the proceeds from all sales of Moreno’s art (fareakanoodle.weebly.com) will go toward earthquake relief for Mexico. Besides going back and forth between making ceramics and animations, Moreno recently added to her résumé: drummer for the band Ryan and the Bishops. Of the Santa Ana art and music community from which she’s emerged, Moreno says, “I’m never at a loss of inspiration.”