I first heard about Margaret Kilgallen in the documentary-fllm, Beautiful Losers. I was instantly captivated by her hand-made quality work. Her typographic art also interested me and how well she incorporated it into her illustrations into some of her artwork. (picture to left: Margaret Kilgallen creating graffiti on a freight train)
Margaret Kilgallen was born in Washington, D.C, but was raised in Maryland. She lived in a town influenced by folk traditions, banjoes, and amish quilting which can be seen through her art. She attended College in Colorado, studying letterpress printing and eventually moved to San Francisco. Here she joined a group of artists, which shaped her influence in her art. Their group’s background included graffiti, beat poetry, mural painting, and
(above picture: one of her installations including a variety of typography and illustration pieces) underground comics. Within this group, she met Barry McGee, who later she married and raised a child.
Her art and typography, being influenced by folk traditions, also had a organic carnival-themed typography. It was said she would buy discounted bad-quality paint that no one wanted and create her art with it. People doubt that those colors could create beautiful art, but she proved their opinions wrong. Her handmade art stood out, even in the worst-quality paint. She never made any initial sketches for her work or guidelines before painting. Her will power and determination to just do, just paint was amazing. (Picture to left: Kilgallen created beautiful visual narratives)
Her art can be seen throughout San Francisco where she painted hundreds of murals, created drawings on freight trains under her tag name, Matokie Slaughter. (left: one of Kilgallen’s graffiti work with her tag name)
Someone quoted that, “her ability to execute massive installations a) so perfectly, and b) so fast was astonishing. I think that came from her experience on
Kilgallen died at the age of 34, in June 2001, due to breast cancer. Even with her sickness, she was able to create a lot of art work with determination. Her strong, independent spirit will forever be remembered through her artwork. (picture to left: one of Kilgallen’s large and wonderful installations)