The Story Behind the Image
You see my daily photos, sometimes several each day, all the time, and I often receive suggestions for how they could be used as greeting cards and merchandise. Much like I turn my daily sketches into merchandise, I listen to those suggestions and also keep my eyes open for daily photos that can become something new and exciting.
So what better to do with a family of five black cats during the festive Halloween season?
The photo in the design above began as a daily photo like the ones you see every day, first posted on October 31, 2010; another, in the design below, was posted on October 30, 2010. They were completely unposed—I got out the pumpkins, but my black cats organized the creative compositions and it was all I could do to get a good clear photo in challenging lighting because surely they would never pose like this again! From the moment I took these photos, posted them and received the feedback about it, I’ve held onto a creative idea for those images: Halloween cards!
I don’t like to associate black cats with Halloween for various reasons so I actually tried to avoid this, but from the combination of looking at cards in shops whenever I get the chance, and, last year, compiling my holiday card designs, I decided I really did want to create a few Halloween cards—especially with the first two images.
And it’s never a bad thing to have cats of any color or pattern on a greeting card for any holiday. I so love to see my cats in my design work and share them with others.
I offer them each Halloween in my Etsy shop as individuals (click each image for a direct link) and as a set of six, so enjoy the stories of how these images became greeting cards.
Madame Mewsette Will Tell Your For-tuna
This card, “Madame Mewsette Will Tell Your For-tuna” features Miss Mewsette, who has a strong sense of the dramatic and arranged herself in this living still life, then looked at me as I walked through the room at night, probably preparing dinner. Where’s my camera?! And my tripod for this one, a difficult shot with the lamp contrasting with the very dark areas around, but Mewsette was patient.
A great image, then on to design! I’m usually designing newsletters and advertising and such, and while I enjoy these text-heavy, multi-layered projects that include writing and editing, I don’t often get a chance to just play now and then. I wanted a heavily-decorated and colorful design, so I pulled a variety of different art elements and fonts and started tossing it all together, ending up with a mock-Baroque picture frame and swashbuckling fonts to complement Madame Mewsette’s mysterious image. Bring on the salmon fillets!
Here is what I included in the post adapted to the back of the card:
This is what Mewsette is dressed up as to celebrate this evening’s events. And she didn’t even have to put on one embarrassing garment or accessory.
When I attended Catholic grade school, we were to dress up as our patron saint for All Hallow’s Eve, and dressing up as St. Bernadette was pretty easy for me as I already tended to wear peasant-style clothing and St. Bernadette didn’t suffer any dire injuries or horrible torture like some of the other saints, she just lived to be very old, despite Lourdes.
Well, I think Mewsette is dressed up as one of her patron kitties—she is quiet and introspective, unlike her brothers, and I can just see her in the role of a familiar or a gypsy fortune-teller!
This card, “Enter: Three WITCHES” features Miss Mewsette, her mom Mimi and her brother Giuseppe.
This image was taken on the same night as the one above, as Mewsette was joined by her mom and brother. Dinner was late as it was much more important to get all the photos I possibly could while they arranged themselves!
I majored in English in college and still keep my books around and still read Shakespeare. The text from MacBeth came to me as I looked at them gathered together around the lamp—I remember I couldn’t wait to post the photo and share the idea! I pulled my weighty copy of The Riverside Shakespeare and the odds and ends of images of folios and original copies I had kept from classes to make sure I had the text right when I posted the image.
To design the card I chose fonts that approached the original print but looked battered enough to be authentic, and arranged the text exactly as it as in one of the replica editions of MacBeth. Thanks so much to my BA in English! My Shakespeare professor was also a cat lover and would have thoroughly appreciated this design.
Here’s what I posted with the photo and placed on the back of the card.
Guess the kids have been getting into my literature textbooks again. I thought my Riverside Shakespeare was too heavy for them, but there is no getting in the way of a determined reader. Now that they’ve mastered Act 1, Scene 1 of MacBeth, I can’t wait to see how they interpret Scene 2.
Maybe reading to them as kittens really did work.
Actually, Mimi, Mewsette and Giuseppe were gathered around the lamp “to keep warm” as they said, because the temperature was all of about 65 degrees. Time to get out the cozy beds!
This card, “Boo!”, features Lucy from a photo I took in early summer 2007. Sadly, I lost Lucy to FIP when she was 15 months old so she never had the chance to develop her career as all my other cats have, so I love to use her image in a creative endeavor whenever possible. It’s my way of remembering and honoring my relationships with my cats, no matter how short or long they may have been.
When I took this photo of her next to the orange paper lamp most of my greeting cards were just a vague idea of something to be done in the future, and I dreamed of various other products like tote bags and woven blankets and all the other things I’m finally getting around to creating. I knew some day I’d want to use this photo as a Halloween or fall-themed image either as a card or another product, not the least because I knew I’d be losing Lucy sometime soon after it was taken. I kept this photo in mind all this time and, finally, here she is.
This card, “I Dare You”, features my next-door neighbor’s calico cat, who could have a bit of an attitude as you can see by her expression, but I enjoyed her visits for the brief time they let her outside.
She had unique markings—her face, legs and tail are calico including white paws, but her torso is tortoiseshell. Even though she’s not my cat I loved this photo generally as her colors and random markings blended with the random leaves in the grass as well as the way the vibrant green and bright orange enhance each other. Her expression just makes it all the better.
I had actually posted her on The Creative Cat because the neighbors were moving and for a while were concerned that they couldn’t keep her indoors with two young children going in and out all the time. Apparently they worked that out since she’s doing fine in their new home.
This card features the big yellow Harvest Moon just photographed in September 2011, and the silhouettes of two of my five black cats in a wordless design that actually can be used even outside of Halloween.
I’ve photographed nearly every full moon this year and post the images on my daily photo blog, Today. I wanted to incorporate this year’s Harvest Moon in at least one design, initially working with a photo where they sky was somewhat blue intending to use the cat images as a dark silhouette, but I just didn’t like the way it looked and so used one of the later shots where the sky was solid black, coordinating the color of the silhouetted cats to match the pale orange of the moon, light against dark instead of dark against light.
This image I used for the silhouettes is of Jelly Bean and Mimi looking out the front window where I often catch those silhouettes of two and three and four cats in the morning, but I never posted this one, possibly because there were several others I posted in the beginning of January 2011 when this was taken. My original idea was also to have several cats in silhouette possibly looking up at the moon or simply sitting with tails dangling hanging out as buddies, but I liked the pose and the more romantic idea this brought to the card; in every project there is space for change and development from what I first intended, and this is one example of that. As a consequence, I also offer it as a Valentine, with a white moon and two red cats on a black background.
This card, “We Three Pumpkins”, features my photos of jack-o-lanterns taken at the annual Night Walk on the Panhandle Trail. The Rennerdale Youth Group carves more than 100 pumpkins donated by Beccaris Farm Market, and the Collier Girl Scouts set out and light the jack-o-lanterns along a half-mile stretch of the Panhandle Trail from the bridge near the Walkers Mill trailhead to the Sunnyside entrance.
I use the trail all the time, volunteer for events as well as manage their website and social networking, and photograph the pumpkins every year seeking out the feline-themed pumpkins especially. When I posted my article about the many purposes of pumpkins this year I decided I wanted to use these photos in something else related to the holiday, so they became one of my cards.
These 5″ x 7″ cards are printed on 12 pt. gloss card stock and include a matching envelope, packed in a clear-top white cardboard greeting card box. Cards are blank inside but can be customized with your message (please convo on Etsy). I sell them as individuals and as a set of six.
Upcoming feline-themed art and merchandise
My inspiring felines and I have been very busy in the studio creating new things from art and images for November. Sign up for the preview e-newsletter, below, to receive the first look at these new items along with a discount.
Click here to see other daily sketches, and for a gallery of the ones available for sale, visit my Etsy shop in the “Daily Sketches” section.
All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.
4 thoughts on “The Story Behind the Image”
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Nice work, Bernadette.
Thank you! I love to share the stories behind what I do so people know how it happens.