Like a rolling stupidcat…

Way back in 1965, Bob Dylan went electric, which upset some of his fans so much that they booed him at the Newport Folk Festival.

Fifty years later, stupidcats went digital – please don’t boo me!

I’ve wanted to re-create some of my cats digitally for ages, so I can put them on button badges and other things. Recently I was able to invest in a professional badge making machine after a run of sales of my drawings (thank you!) so I sat down at the computer, opened Adobe Illustrator, and started playing.

I started with a design based on a stupidcat original that was bought by a chap in America – he’s been nicknamed Sir Reginald (the cat, not the chap) and here’s the very first badge I made on my shiny new press:

  
The next cat to get the Illustrator treatment was my sad black one – here’s an early badge test of the two of them:

  
I began to think about packaging – most badges tend to be put in plastic bags with a folded card stapled on the top. I wanted to do something a little different. Here are a few things I tried:

  
   
 

I loved the idea of the matchbook-style packaging…

  
…but it was a bit too slow and fiddly to make, and the visible staple irritated me a bit. Around this time I started referring to them as “badgebooks” and then had a thought – I was already planning on making stupidcats notebooks, so why not just make a simple, folded book-cover type thing with the badges inside?

Here are some prototypes, with mock-ups of the notebooks:

 
The added bonus of giving the badge packaging a bookish theme meant I could give each set of designs a “volume” number. I’d now added two more designs based on old drawings – the alien, and the other stupidcat, inspired by Neil Gaiman‘s book “Coraline“.

I still had a problem though – I didn’t want to use a plastic bag in the packaging, and cutting little flaps or punching holes was fiddly, time-consuming, and looked messy on the back. So how could I attach the badges to the card?

Then I received a new bank card in the post.

So I looked up “glue that sticks bank cards onto paper” (or words to that effect) on the internet, and my little problem was soon solved! I posted a set of badges to myself, and was relieved to find that despite travelling through the postal system, the badges were still attached to the card when I received them. Success! 

After much research I’d settled on a range of card from GF Smith called Colorplan to use for my notebook covers and badgebooks, and I matched the colours used on the artwork as closely as I could to the card, then went to visit my friendly local printer (the same one that does my Giclée prints) and he printed out the badge artwork on his posh laser printer. You can really see the difference between my fuzzy inkjet prints and the vibrant, crisp laser prints (the top row):

  

Here are the badges against some of the cardstock – not a bad match at all!

  

Once I’d finalised the design for the badgebook covers, I had a rubber stamp specially made, and also one for the back with my logo and website address that I’ll be using on my notebooks too:

  

And here’s the finished badgebook! I asked Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for help choosing the colour for volume one and blue won, so I promptly chose orange which came in second place!
   
   
The final touch was making teeny brown paper bags that just fit a badgebook and a business card:

  

So there they are! I already have four new designs in progress for volume two – but before I release that, I’ll be launching my notebooks – here’s a preview of the first one, which explains why I didn’t go with blue for volume one of the badgebook. As you can see, I’ve dropped the text on the cover that I had on earlier mock-ups to draw more attention to the cutout and the thinner, contrasting card of the inner cover. They’ll be handstiched, using thread that is colour-matched to the inner cover.

  
Volume one of my badgebook is available now from my Etsy store, and if all goes well my notebooks should be ready to go on sale in a couple of weeks time.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you haven’t booed me! 😸

ps – I still love the matchbook idea, so will probably use it for one-offs or something later!

Custom cats…

Hello fellow cat-people! And non-cat-people too!

Back in May last year, I doodled some cats…  
Then in July of this year, after re-opening my Etsy store, I tried the doodle in a stupidcat style because I rather liked his cheeky face:

 

I liked it so much, I did a proper version in grey:

  

Cheeky ain’t he! He’s available to buy as a print from my Etsy store.

Shortly after re-opening my store, I was approached by a customer who I’d drawn a couple of custom cats for a few years ago – “Could you do a drawing for my other half’s birthday?”

After agreeing on colours and style (I felt that somthing in a similar style to the doodle-based-grey would suit, and the customer agred), out came the oil pastels and ink. I haven’t been able to show you this drawing until now, because I was waiting to hear that the gift had been given, and this morning – hurrah! – word came! So here he is…

  
I’m hugely fond of this one! I kept finding myself pulling a similar face to his as I was working on him! 

Whilst I don’t currently list custom drawings in my store, please feel free to contact me if you’re interested – with plenty of notice and if my work schedule allows it, I’ll be happy to accommodate you if I can!

Pretty in print…

Greetings!

Those of you that follow me on social media will know by now that I recently started making my illustrations available as Giclée prints – this is something I’ve wanted to do for ages, mainly because I get a bit upset parting with my originals, and also because I wanted to make my illustrations available to more of you.

Last week I added a new print to my Etsy store, in the form of Cousin Louisa Gentlepaw – you might recognise her from my previous post:

stupidcats

There she is looking pretty in a frame, and here’s a close-up:

image

She’s printed on 240gsm archival quality Archelles Aquarelle Rag paper – the texture is beautiful, and I think it really adds to the character of my illustrations.

I spent a lot of time researching the different methods of reproduction, and finally decided to go with Giclée printing, as it would give folk a gallery-standard, archival quality print – and the examples I’d seen looked beautiful. Yes, it’s more expensive than other digital print processes, but I wanted quality rather than quantity. Digging more into the Giclée printing lark, one of the first things I discovered is that it’s pronounced zhee-clay. I also learned that there are three main things that make a Giclée print a Giclée print…

1. The resolution of the original. It must be created at a minimum of 300dpi to make sure that the output print is sharp.
2. The paper it’s printed on. It must be of archival quality, which means it has to be acid free and either cotton or rag based.
3. The inks and printer used to print it. The inks must pigment-based rather than the dye-based inks you find in your standard inkjet printer. Pigment inks will last 100+ years without fading (providing you don’t hang a print in direct sunlight, which to be honest you should never do with a picture – even an original oil painting!). The printers used are generally large format printers with 8 to 12 different colour ink cartridges – as well as CMYK, it also has different shades of each colour to make the prints look even smoother than is achievable with just CMYK.

Further research led me to a company in Nottingham who specialise in work for artists and galleries, which meant I could keep things local – even better! I’ve now visited them twice with work for outputting, and am so impressed with their attention to detail and willingness to spend time with you making sure that the finished results are perfect. I took this picture on my first visit and can’t tell you how excited I was seeing all my cats creeping slowly out the printer!

stupidcats

One of the best things about now selling Giclée prints instead of originals is that at last I’ve been able to offer for sale prints of a large picture I drew way back in 2001 – I’ve been loath to part with it, but now it’s available as a print and looks absolutely smashing!

stupidcats

I have plenty more cats in my sketchbook, so keep your eyes peeled for new prints!

Finally, you may or may not know that I’ve finally set up a website – it’s rather basic at the moment, but has links to my Etsy shop and this blog. Head over to stupidcats.co.uk for a peep!