Meet Murphie Pettyjohn, the software engineer student with a fresh take on collage

The artist plays at the intersection between organic and technological matter.

5 March 2024

There is ongoing conversation around the fact that, in the age of social media, creatives are bringing themselves into their work more – quite literally, through selfies or image-making that shows an artist’s ‘workings out’ in stacks of referential layers. We’re reminded of that premonition when we look at the work of Murphie Pettyjohn, though this is certainly no new direction for Murphie.

“I think I have always worked with self-portraits when it comes to my art,” they tell us. “I feel it’s necessary to incorporate human/nature aspects into my digital art as a form of interconnectivity, which, for me, lessens the threat of technology that looms over our world.”

Self portraiture then is counterpoint here to the technological – though they are both sides of the same coin for Murphie. The artist, who is currently based out of Fresno, CA and works primarily across digital and multimedia avenues, is particularly interested in how humans interact with technology, and vice versa. They are studying software engineering alongside their art practice, a hint to how this interest area lives out in all areas of their daily life. Their digital collages are made using online photo editors; for some works, Murphie will use AI platforms like to create a “backdrop that encapsulates the meaning of the piece”.

Visually, Murphie’s work can be classified by an impulse to collect things together – interests, ideas, other images. They explain: “My references come from everywhere! From vintage tech, observing nature, my very talented friends and family, listening and looking to universal signs and the internet of course!”


Murphie Pettyjohn: Sprained Ankle (Copyright © Murphie Pettyjohn)


Murphie Pettyjohn: Snowy Desktop (Copyright © Murphie Pettyjohn)


Murphie Pettyjohn: Fruit Mood (Copyright © Murphie Pettyjohn)


Murphie Pettyjohn: Enter The Womb (Copyright © Murphie Pettyjohn)


Murphie Pettyjohn: Retro Windows (Copyright © Murphie Pettyjohn)


Copyright © Murphie Pettyjohn


Murphie Pettyjohn: LAI SEE 2023 (Copyright © Murphie Pettyjohn)

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Murphie Pettyjohn: Bunnies Be Safe (Copyright © Murphie Pettyjohn)

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About the Author

Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. In January 2023, they became associate editor, predominantly working on partnership projects and contributing long-form pieces to It’s Nice That. Contact them about potential partnerships or story leads.

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