All images courtesy the artist
Fashion-conscious plush animals wear headphones, munch on vegemite snacks, and sport miniature keychain versions of themselves tied to tiny knapsacks. The entire adorable vision is the work of textile artist and designer, Cat Rabbit, who constructs effervescent sculptural works bursting with joie de vivre and fine-tuned craftsmanship. No detail is spared in the Australian designer’s approximation of living-animal life. Her creations mimic living, breathing people who you can expect to find walking down a trendy and artisan-focused neighborhood. Her inspirations range from children’s books, like Busytown, to the Pop aesthetic of Japanese magazines. The artist spoke with The Creators Project about her artistic design and latest plush works:
The Creators Project: Where does the process of a new soft sculpture begin? What are some of your main sources of inspiration?
Cat Rabbit: It begins in lots of different ways. If it’s personal work, or work for an exhibition, then I can sketch for ages before I am confident enough to put scissor to felt. But then other times, if I have a really good idea of what I want to create in my mind, then I just go for it! The only consistency is that the results are always unexpected — the soft sculptures never turn out looking how I imagined — but to me this isn’t a negative thing, it adds to the enjoyment of the process. Sometimes their eyes will be slightly misaligned or their legs super long — it’s these weird inconsistencies that give the characters their personality and I wouldn’t achieve that if I tried to work these characteristics in on purpose. It’s the reason I don’t use a pattern, and instead just work intuitively. I’ve started to make quilts in the same way, and I’m really enjoying the randomness of how they turn out. My inspiration usually starts with a particular animal. I then think about its character — how it will be dressed and what kind of accessories it might have. The accessories are the most fun part, so I leave them til the end!
There are a lot of surprising yet charming food elements in your soft sculptures—pretzel and donut embellishments, avocados and eggs as headpieces. Was there a special thought process behind adding these?
I guess food is so much a part of everyday life (particularly for me!) and I find it so aesthetically pleasing. I like to window shop for food more than anything else. It’s important to me to incorporate my obsessions into my work, and making felt food is such an addiction for me. I think it resonates with people too, food brings us together in so many ways.
The outfits of each of your creations are part of what make the sculptures so life-like and an example of a fun, modern collectible. What is your interest in fashion and style?
My personal uniform is pretty much navy linen and striped shirts, so I think the outfits I make for my characters is a projection of what I would wear if I was braver/better at making actual human clothes. Following patterns is not my forté. I remember being obsessed with Fruits (the Japanese street style magazine) in the 90s and my love of the amazing array of styles in Tokyo street fashion continues to this day. There is no greater joy for me than making a tiny platform sneaker out of felt.
What is one of your all-time favorite soft sculptures? This piece,named Routine, is my favorite piece to date. It’s actually a self-portrait, so I have incorporated my stripes and linen uniform and food, my favorite meal of Vegemite toast soldiers and boiled egg.