Wednesday night almost proved to be a night like any other.
I wish I could say “It was dark and stormy”, but it was only slightly drizzling when I set the trashcan out for the garbage truck’s early arrival.
Feeling a bit out of touch with inspiration for my art, I decided to call upon good old Netflix, an instant movie from the “Dramas Based On Classic Literature – pre 20th Century” category, settling upon Daniel Deronda…
I became so engrossed in the 4-part mini-series of George Eliot’s excellent novel, and the fine acting of Romola Garai, Hugh Dancy, and Hugh Bonneville that I didn’t stir from the couch until a quarter past midnight.
One last e-mail check before bed, I thought. Indeed.
One of the first messages I read was a convo from Lily, alerting me to the dubious honor I’d unknowingly received earlier in the day.
Regretsy.com, known for its infamous roasting of certain Etsy artists – the ones who sculpt customized vagina necklaces and crochet (“crotchet”) penis sock puppets – had finally stumbled across my humble storefront and found gross delight in my “Kittney Plays the Field” digital painting.
I should have seen it coming, and no doubt stayed hidden under the bed…. but I knew when I created Kittney that she might cause a stir.
In fact, I wrote a blog post about it, where I admitted to feeling guilty for letting down my fans.
After all, people who follow me, expecting to see Regency Cats and 1950’s housewives dressed in heels and pearls, would undoubtedly be appalled at a sex kitten coyly straddling a football field 50 yard line.
Even my husband gave me a longsuffering look when I showed my finished work to him, because he finds my perverted humor slightly disturbing.
However, I refused to silence my unique voice… I found her amusing, satirical, and a reflection of myself juggling a delicate balance of traditional values and improper thoughts. I believe my true fans will understand the piece for what it is.
Heck, if you reeeeally wanna see some sexy kitties, just check out the 1,900 submissions in Deviantart.com’s furry anthro category!
[For those of you unfamiliar with Deviantart, those grey boxes you see in the search results are censored images, labelled “mature”, which are only visible to logged-in members over the age of eighteen. It’s amazing what wasn’t censored, huh?! My Kittney is quite tame in comparison]
The whole Regretsy feature is a bit ironic, though, because only a few months ago Carrie Hawks’ (aka Tigerpixie) “Cardinal Cats” was featured in Regretsy’s holiday Advent Calendar.
I became offended by some scathing comments on the accompanying Facebook fanpage regarding her lack of talent.
Carrie could be considered an idol of mine, although when I first discovered her work online a few years ago, I almost gave up painting my cats altogether.
I was initially disheartened that someone else was “doing the same thing”… so I embarked on a different course with my photomanipulations.
It took me an entire year to reconcile myself to the fact that nothing in art is truly original, that we will always share our vision with other like-minded people.
The Victorian-era painter, Louis Wain, has been attributed as the first anthropomorphic cat artist, and no doubt he was the first popular one. Regarding his inspiration, he wrote:
“I take a sketch-book to a restaurant, or other public place, and draw the people in their different positions as cats, getting as near to their human characteristics as possible. This gives me doubly nature, and these studies I think [to be] my best humorous work.”
Instead of judging myself as an inferior competitor, I decided to embrace these artists (both contemporary and legendary) as my kindreds… these are people who see the world, and the cats who share it with us, in the same way I do. After feeling freakish and misunderstood, and dealing with comments such as those posted on Regretsy’s blog, on a regular basis throughout my entire life… I could finally look people in the eye and say,
“I’m not alone, there are others like me. Famous people, even.”
… And the more famous they become, the more doors will open for the rest of us.
Carrie was paving the way with her talent and appeal, and I viciously (rabidly) defended her on Regretsy’s Facebook page… to which she politely called for me to “cease and desist”, as my remarks weren’t helping her PR.
I slinked away with my tail between my legs, and with a valuable lesson learned:
Carrie took the publicity in stride, with grace and humor. She wasn’t offended in the least, and recognized that thousands of views would eventually lead
to more fans and sales of her work.
The saying goes: “all publicity is good publicity”… but I never quite understood the concept until that moment.
I still don’t understand anyone’s desire to humiliate themselves on national television, though. ;)
Her reasoning followed that among those thousands of views and comments, many of which were condescending and rude, our work is bound to resonate with a few people. Even if they share the link merely as a sick joke, it is still “going viral” and finding new audiences across the world.
Putting a positive spin on it, we need to embrace the experience and be willing to concede that our work won’t suit everyone, but that’s okay!
When Carrie’s feature launched, I prayed fervently that Regretsy would never dig deep enough in Etsy’s bowels to find me.
There were so many paintings of masturbating bears and quilted vaginas to satisfy them, and I felt safe that my artwork wasn’t quite disturbing enough to rank among them.
Except that Kittney apparently was disturbing enough… my Etsy shop received 4,000 views on Wednesday, and over 2,000 yesterday. It was tweeted and shared on individual Facebook pages across the globe.
When I saw Lily’s e-mail, my stomach dropped onto the floor, but I swallowed it again and took a deep breath.
Carrie became my idol once again, as I called upon her strength… clicked on the link to read the awful remarks about this talentless Catholic school
slut who enjoys cat-F***ing… (it was a Protestant school, by the way, not Catholic)…. and blessedly, my evil sense of humor took control of me.
I laughed until I cried. Then I visited their Facebook page, where 55 new comments waited, and laughed some more.
I even shared my parody of Britney’s “Ooops, I Did It Again” with them, opening the door further into my world for those brave enough to enter.
“I think I did it again,
I made you believe
that I’m housebroken.
It might seem like I’m spayed
But it doesn’t mean
I haven’t strayed.”
Yes, I’m a cat-obsessed freak, a bit pervy, and enjoy being petted. And you’re welcome to stay. ;)