Symbolism, deeper meanings key to Moriarity’s art

Exhibit at Vibe Coworks in Poulsbo through October

Symbolism and deeper meanings of art are elements Pat Moriarity likes to include in his work.

When doing record covers, for example, he won’t even start until he’s heard the music.

“I’ll listen to the music and analyze the lyrics,” he said. “I’ll even listen to the music while I’m doodling so the artwork smells like the music. There’s always a method behind the madness. I’m serious as a heart attack about craftmanship. The artwork has to serve a purpose.”

Local freelance artist Moriarity is a jack of all trades who has done graphic design, cartooning, animation and more over his near 40-year career. His work is on display at Vibe Coworks in Poulsbo through October.

Moriarity, who also does some music video and animated shorts, was born in Chicago to parents who were artists. His father was a cartoonist in the Navy in the 1950s before going to art school, and his mother went to art school for fashion design.

“I just kind of got brainwashed into thinking everybody drew,” he said. “I guess it was just our family that was unusual. I watched ‘The Flintstones’ and ‘The Jetsons.’ ‘Milton the Monster’ was my favorite TV show as a little kid; it really struck a nerve with me. I was drawing Frankenstein all the time as a kid. My dad would give me assistance or a tip here and there.”

Earning his degree in graphic design, Moriarity started out doing punk rock art in the mid-1980s music scene of Minneapolis working for Twin/Tone records before getting his start in sequential art in 1987 with Fantagraphics in Seattle. He eventually became art director there and later for The Comics Journal. His big break came when he was featured in Rolling Stone magazine as “hot cartoonist” in 1996.

“That kind of started the phone ringing for me,” Moriarity said. “I started freelancing for Nickelodeon Magazine and getting offers to do record covers. After the Rolling Stone thing happened, I had enough nerve to quit my day job and see if I could swing it as a freelance artist. Honestly, I haven’t had a real job since 1998.”

Moriarity moved to Port Orchard in 2000, where he has lived ever since. He still does freelance work and has recently made designs for some local businesses in the area. He also will be making the poster for the inaugural Poulsbo Film Festival in October.

Over the years, Moriarity’s work has been displayed in cartoons, posters, book covers, record covers, T-shirts, logos and more recently animation.

“I’m sort of a gun for hire for graphic design but I specialize in illustration,” he said. “I’m kind of a problem solver for other people’s needs. I wear a lot of hats. They don’t tell me what to draw. They come to me because they don’t know what they need, and then I come up with it. I also kind of specialize in comedic-detailed artwork.”

Moriarty went on to say: “The reason I got into animation was because I used to specialize in print. The world is changing, and they’re not printing as much anymore. I started thinking about how I could stay involved, and I started experimenting with animation.”

The art exhibit in Poulsbo opened Aug. 4. Since Vibe Coworks is a place where entrepreneurs and business people meet, he thought it would be a good way to meet people and get more work opportunities. “I’m hoping that some of these entrepreneurs will see all these different things I’ve done and maybe something will come of it,” he said. “Already, some stuff has.”

On display are two large quilts his aunt made that include some of the old T-shirts he designed, silkscreen and art prints of event and movie posters, and more. “It’s almost all freelance jobs and just weird stuff,” Moriarity said. “I always have iron in the fire. I’m always looking for that next gig. I’m a perpetually starving artist.”

For more, visit or email him at