Strange Faces: Faye Moorhouse Illustrations and the Grim Aesthetic of Children

Image from Faye’s awesomely charming ‘Five Terrifying Monsters’ zine. She could totally illustrate “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark: Toddler’s Edition.” No?

Faye won the ‘Best New Blood’ award at the D&AD New Blood 2011 for her illustrated book ‘The Cat Ladies of Czechoslovakia.’

‘A Catalogue of Hoarding-Related Injuries’ – collection of fictional stories about the lives of 8 compulsive hoarders. Laser printed, watercolor.

Prep material for the ‘Three Very Gruesome Love Stories.’ The first tale is about the German cannibal Armin Meiwes.

Based in southern England, Faye Moorhouse is a freelance illustrator whose current style straddles the line between charming and filthy. Her quirky collectibles, ranging from paper cutouts to painted ceramics to nifty fictional and non-fictional zines, have a whimsical likeness to child art that presents itself in dark and unexpected narratives. Faye’s most macabre piece, ‘Three Very Gruesome Love Stories,’ is based on three murderers.  And while the zine’s dismembered limbs and orifice blood fountains shock enough to warrant its name, it retains that homemade, innocuous artistic style that makes Etsy customers want to include it on their shelf of little oddities. I’m also curious about ‘Winkfield,’ a set of illustrations far less grotesque than the love stories but still equally strange: “On September 4, 1967, six unidentified flying objects were found in six different locations along the south coast. They were all positioned equidistantly along the 51.5 parallel.The M.O.D. said it was an elaborate hoax.”

‘Winkfield’ – An A3 illustrated book, black and white ink on paper.

*side note: anything related to aliens needs to belong to me, just in case it makes me a more attractive candidate for an alien encounter.*

It’s not surprising that she derives inspiration from mysteries, murder, and strange stories; last year Faye told Ventricular Projects, “I’m a natural born pessimist and I love all things gross and shocking, I like to think this oddness shows itself in my work.” Despite this morose approach, her artistry does have that innocent grossness akin to children’s drawings during arts and crafts at school – well, a disturbing drawing intended to evince the nerves of a susceptible teacher. Because isn’t that the best part of being a kid? Trolling old people with your creepy buck-toothed smile and demented sense of humor? Ah, reminds me of this one time…


“Uhm, hmm, yea, okay darling, you probably didn’t understand the assignment. I asked what you want to be when you grow up, and I’m purty sure you don’t dream of becoming a crossing guard who shoots spiders and swords out of your fingertips. I’ll tell you what sweet child,  as a special treat, I’ll take this picture and you can head over to the enchanted reading jungle before everyone else. Kay?”

“Oh,  you mean you’re going to call my parents while I sit on that crusty green mat? GEE THANKS MRS. WINTERS.”

I never really understood the popularity of career-oriented artwork, seemed like a pretext for identifying the weird kids and adding their names to a spreadsheet monitored by Interpol. Everyone knows that childhood is really an extended daze and that all kids are certifiable hellions with dark, foreboding perceptions of the absurd world we live in. I say embrace it!

“Oh, but I was a sensational child! I drew trees and butterflies and ice cream and love!”

Well…. butterfly monsters with feet, ice cream cones with pig-tails, and trees with a hidden agenda, floating next to the Sun, make me wonder what kind of demented weirdness was cooking inside your adolescent conscious.


Unless your little one is a demon child named Adrian or Damian (if you got the references, niiice), I would not recommend reading any of Faye’s stories aloud at bedtime. But, if you’re interested in peculiar illustrations about ladies with cats, injurious hoarding issues, and promiscuous bathing suits, then poke around her portfolio. My biggest qualm is that the seeming spontaneity and occasional minimalism of her illustrations can leave much to be desired. I’d love to see more color and detail in her work, because I think Faye’s morbid stories are fantastic and that her convictions as a young artist are only getting stronger.

All images are from Faye’s Web site and Etsy page.


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