Meet Emerald Pellot: The Artist Behind GRL TRBL

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Emerald Pellot is the brilliant pop culture obsessed mind behind GRL TRBL. She invited us into her apartment to talk about her process, her background, and how Trump inspires her (trust us, you’re gonna want to read this).

What brought you to work as an artist/illustrator and when did you start?

I never really thought of myself as an artist or illustrator. Since I was 5 years old I remember telling everyone I was going to be a writer. Those 1000 hours you put into becoming an expert, I put them into writing. Flash forward to November 8, 2016. Trump is elected. I always knew there was racism, sexism, ableism, classism, xenophobia, and hatred of the LTGBTQIA community in the United States, I just didn’t know our nation was so proud of that…
Words felt meaningless at this point, so I started drawing to cope. The first image I drew, ever, in my whole life that ever really meant anything to me was of the three fists, which became the solidarity pin. It was a fantasy — my fantasy. My intersectional, special snowflake, feminist utopia. I launched GRL TRBL on March 21, 2017. It’s hard to believe the amount of support I’ve gotten since then, but it leaves me speechless everyday.

When people look at your work, what are three things you want them to know about you.

I want them to know that a woman of color made these things. I am Afro-Latinx and even in just me trying to find other artists in the pin community who identify as such has been difficult. I want us to be more visible. Secondly, I want the things I make to feel somewhat militant and hostile without losing their aesthetic pleasure because I make pretty things from an angry place. I create from a place that wants to reconcile the brutalities that are regularly committed against the country’s most vulnerable people. But yes, they’re cute, because I like cute things and that’s just me. Lastly, I want them to know that I design with a message in mind. Each illustration is kind of a visual “think-piece.” They all have a thesis statement. They’re meant to be bold, punchy, and to the point.

What would the sign you’d bring to a protest look like?

I think it would just be a picture of Auntie Maxine Waters and it would say: LISTEN TO BLACK WOMEN. We’re the most educated group in America who tend to vote for what’s best for the most people. Maybe you don’t have to agree with everything we say, but I think we’re worth listening to.

What upsets/frustrates you the most about politics right now?

Everything. Perhaps the most irksome is a lack of media literacy, an inability to understand context, and reactionary hot takes. News takes a little more time to unfold than it takes to tweet out a headline. I believe call out culture is essential for marginalized groups to reclaim narratives about themselves that have been too often taken away, but I also believe that the only way to arrive at a fully-formed opinion is to sit and reflect with information. I wish we had more time to understand what is happening, instead of just having to deal with what is happening. Right now I am most concerned with being the best citizen not having the best clapback for all the tomfoolery that is going on in our country. It’s just too real for me.

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Photos by Elizabeth Fisher.

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