For the Animystics Exhibition we had the pleasure of featuring a collection of work by Australian-based artist, Cat Rabbit. Cat is known for her colorful, felted, and plush dolls, with human-like personalities, accessories, and charming faces. Her work is extremely high crafted, with embroidery and hand-sewn elements, miniature glasses, backpacks, and outfits, and much more!
This week we had the chance to speak with Cat Rabbit about her studio practice, interests, and process of making. You can find all of Cat Rabbit's work on her portfolio here or see her collection of work for the Animystics Exhibition on the Light Grey Shop here.
Could you introduce yourself and tell us about your background in making?
My name is Cat. When I was attending my University, I began making little soft toys for friends under the name Cat-Rabbit. I majored in Graphic Design and English Literature, going on to graduate with honors and then to receive my Masters Degree. By this time, I was selling my soft sculptures in shops and had established my Etsy Store. At the end of studying and school, I realized that what I really wanted to do was sew! I now live in Melbourne, Australia, and have a lovely studio where I work and make things almost every single day - it's a dream come true =^-^=.
Can you walk us through your studio practice and work space?
The nature of my work (all made by hand) is very time consuming, so I allow myself a lot of time to complete projects. I love making things so much that I don't mind at all! It also helps that I have a lovely studio environment, sharing with my buddies Andrea Innocent, Catherine Campbell, and Lauren Nicholson - all amazing artists and incredibly supportive friends! I also like to keep particular crafts as 'leisure crafts' - I'm an avid knitter and baker!
What are the sources of inspiration behind your work and how it has evolved over time?
As a child, I always loved to make little things, and during school I re-discovered my sewing enthusiasm. I started making felt toys, purses, and bags based on the characters that I would draw in the margins of my lecture books. It grew so slowly - at first the shapes I was sewing were *very* basic - essentially a two-dimensional cushion! Over time, and as I started getting more confidence in my brand, and began selling them in stores, and exhibiting them in galleries. I then started thinking about the structures of my plush - each time trying to make them more finished and with more features than the last. Now I have to restrain myself in regards to making accessories for my little guys, otherwise I would never finish! Lately, I have been making backpacks, hats, satchels, and flowers, and I have more ideas in my head!
The Animystics Exhibition is all about our real life animals, inspirations and spirit animals. Do you have a spirit animal or creature you identify with? If so, what are its mystical, physical, or healing properties?
I really love the idea for the Animystics exhibition! I feel like animals are constantly providing me with inspiration and make me feel better about the world. If I ever feel down about politics and the bad sides of human nature, it's really good to switch on an animal documentary of some sort, just to get some perspective on things. In this way, I think all animals have healing properties! I have many animals that I love and identify with, but I think when all is said and done, it is cats that are my real spirit animal. I just feel better around them.
Many of the creatures you are creating seem to have a specific personality and mood about them. Could you talk about character development and personality within your work?
I really try to let my plush creatures develop their own personalities during the making process. Everything I make is handmade without a pattern, so my process is more of a sculptural one. I draw a quick sketch before starting, and then just start cutting shapes and sewing them together. Sometimes their features will end up in a slightly different place, and they will take on a particular stance which will determine their own little personality. This is what I like best about the way that I work - it's like they take on a life of their own!
I am always impressed by creatives who manage their own business and freelance lifestyle. Could you talk a little about what it is like running your own Etsy and online shop and your time spent as a creative? How much time is spent marketing, making, and in free time?
The freelance lifestyle is definitely not an easy one! It helps that I have friends who have a similar working situation and we can talk (and complain) about it often, and best of all, we can offer each other advice on how to deal with certain situations. So far, I have really liked running my own Etsy store- it helps to have the support of the Etsy team behind you to help sort out any tricky situation.I also have a really nice base of shops and galleries that sell my work- they are sympathetic to the lifestyle of running your own business.
What advice do you have for artists who are beginning their own shops and styles?
Never forget that the product comes first! I see a lot of people get all wound up in the marketing side of things and forget that what actually matters is having an amazing product to sell in the first place. Keep working on making things, make things every day and enjoy making them! If you enjoy it, then that will be reflected in the work and people will enjoy seeing it :)
What projects are you currently working on? What can we look forward to seeing?
I'm currently starting work on a second book for children with my friend and all-round-amazing lady Isobel Knowles, to be published by Thames & Hudson. I have also started a new range of miniature works in needle felt, which I'm super excited about releasing to the world!
Thanks Cat! It is fantastic to see some of the behind-the-scenes of your world!
You can see Cat Rabbit's work on her website and Etsy shop. You can also see her work for the Animystics Exhibition on the Light Grey Shop and Animystics Online Gallery.