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If you like Paris, art and cats, you'll LOVE this charming children's book about famous "Le Chat Noir" artist Theophile Steinlen.
If you like Paris, art and cats, you'll LOVE this charming children's book about famous "Le Chat Noir" artist Theophile Steinlen.
147 backers pledged $9,978 to help bring this project to life.

About

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$9,978

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The Artist Who Loved Cats: The Inspiring Tale of Theophile Steinlen is a picture book biography of the artist who created the iconic Le Chat Noir cabaret posters. More than that, it is a celebration of art, inspiration, and following your heart to create a life that you love.

Art, music, and cats...and a Parisian setting -- need we say more? Oui! Below are more details for you, dear Patrons and Patronesses of the Arts!

You never know when and where inspiration will find you! We are always on the prowl for new ideas...but sometimes, an idea pounces on us when we are least expecting it!

Susan: In the summer of 2014, I was in Paris on a family holiday, strolling down the streets of Montmartre. I peered into the window of a shop and spotted a little bronze sculpture of a cat. Cats were on my mind already: everywhere I turned, Chat Noir art was emblazoned on t-shirts, posters, coasters, mugs, and anything that could be imprinted and sold as a souvenir. I was, in fact, carrying a Chat Noir umbrella I had purchased the day before!

The friendly shopkeeper did not speak much English, and I spoke "un peu de Francais"... but when he showed me the artist's signature on the cat and pointed to my umbrella, I made the connection: I was holding an antique bronze by the artist, Steinlen. Curiosity isn't just for cats, so I did a little research -- and the beginnings of this rhyming biography began to pop into my head. Naturalmente, I showed the rough verses (and my new bronze cat, who I named Noir) to my partner-in-rhyme, illustrator Courtenay Fletcher.

Courtenay: A picture book about cats? and art? and Paris? Oui! Oui! I can-can do this!

We worked on the project for several months, then set it down and rolled forward with  The Big Adventures of Tiny House. Two years (and 15 amazingly fun tiny house festivals) later, we turned our gaze back to The Artist Who Loved Cats. We were excited to learn that the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts had just mounted a wonderful Steinlen Cats exhibit, and we shared the draft with VMFA curator Dr. Mitchell Merling, who had very kind words about it! 

The time away from the project turned out to be beneficial (art is like that sometimes!). Courtenay has brought a fresh new illustrating style for the book, and I've tweaked and polished the story. We'll continue to make it sparkle as we finish the book over the next two months.

We believe children (or your inner child!) will love the rhyming verse and delightful illustrations - while learning more about history, art, antiques and the life of an interesting artist!

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Theophile Alexandre Steinlen was born in Switzerland in 1859, trained as a textile designer, and moved to Paris in 1881 to pursue his dream of being an artist. He immersed himself in the lively scene in Montmartre - a hub of musicians, artists, inventors and freethinkers who hobnobbed in cabarets, exchanging ideas and collaborating on creative projects.

That same year, France passed laws expanding freedom of the press - and many of the cabarets launched their own journals filled with social commentary, art and clever comics (think "The New Yorker"). Steinlen was soon contributing his talents to many of these journals. During his prolific career as an artist, illustrator, and graphic designer, he produced more than 700 illustrations and covers for journals (many of which had powerful messages about socio-political issues of his time), as well dozens of well-known posters, illustrated covers for musical compositions, delightful cat comic strips and more.

While many people recognize his art...his name is not as familiar as we believe it should be! And that's why we want to get The Artist Who Loved Cats into the world.

We are friends who met in a Mommy and Me class when our kids were babies. We began our creative collaboration in 2012 with Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs. Our second book was a collaboration with Le Var Burton (reading Rainbow, Roots, Star Trek), titled The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm, and in 2017 we rolled out The Big Adventures of Tiny House.

In addition to authoring children's books, Susan has worked in television, public relations and teaching. She is a graduate of UCLA (BA), Yale (MA) and Pepperdine (teacher training). She's a published poet who just released her first novel Inspired this spring (it's a blend of drama and mythology, about a girl in middle school who becomes an apprentice to the Greek Muses).

Super-sketcher Courtenay Fletcher went to UC Berkeley and graduated from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. She is also an experienced advertising creative, a professional photographer, and a graphic designer.

Our books are being used by therapists, parents, schools and non-profit programs to help kids heal from loss and trauma - and that makes us feel good every day. We love what we do, and we want to keep doing it! You can learn more about us and our other books (and find healing art and nature activities to accompany them!) at www.InnerFlowerChild.com.

Our budget of $6,500 will cover our costs of publishing 1,500 hardcover, full-color, 32-page picture books (ISBN, copyright, printing, etc). If we exceed our minimum goal, we will print more books -- and Courtenay has a grand plan to splurge and add dust jackets, too. Ooh-la-la, these books will be magnificent!

We've created a wide range of reward levels, and hopefully there's something there for even the most discriminating of cats! If there's a particular reward we missed that you would really like to see, please send us a message and we'll do our best to add that.

Have your favorite feline immortalized in the book!
Have your favorite feline immortalized in the book!

*Please note that this is a children's book. We reserve final say on the wording of any acknowledgments which appear on the dedication page (for those rewards which include this item).

A verse in the book gets to the heart of it:

While the verse refers to the 19th-century arts scene in Montmartre, the words also apply perfectly to the Kickstarter community! Here, we all come together to support creativity and artistic dreams...and THAT opens magic doors. (We really DO believe in magic ever since LeVar Burton saw our first book Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs (a Kickstarter project!) and invited us to collaborate with him on The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm -- a book to help kids coping with trauma. That book has been around the world -- it was actually launched to the International Space Station and read aloud by an astronaut!

When you back this project, you are helping indie artists make their creative dreams come true -- and you will be getting a great book before it is available to the public.

Please support us at any level you can - and please SHARE THIS PROJECT with your friends and neighbors and on social media!! If you know someone who loves cats, art or Paris...send them the link!

Merci beaucoup! Many thanks to you for taking the time to read, share and support our project. We feel blessed to have this Kickstarter community.

xoxo Courtenay & Susan

Risks and challenges

On both of our previous campaigns (Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs in 2012 and The Big Adventures of Tiny House in 2016), we finished our book and fulfilled our backer rewards ahead of schedule - and we expect to do the same this time around.

We've gained a lot of knowledge and skills while building our career as an indie author-illustrator team during the past 6 years. We love the DIY nature of indie publishing, and we've actually spoken about the topic at Los Angeles Public Library Indie Author Day, and our indie publishing company Inner Flower Child Books has been featured by IBPA (the Independent Book Publishers Association - they are amazing, btw!).

We already have a great printer right here in the USA that we trust to do a quality, on-time job. We allowed ourselves a realistic schedule, so we anticipate success and will work hard to achieve it. If we are delayed for any reason, we will communicate honestly and in a timely way to let you know our plan for overcoming unexpected obstacles. And, you'll receive frequent backer updates so that you can be part of every step of our creative journey.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Bonjour, Kitty!

    Receive all of our exclusive backer updates and join us on our creative journey as we complete, publish and launch the book! And when it's done, you will receive a download of the E-Book!

    Includes:
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    A Hardcover Copy of the Book

    You'll receive a hardcover copy of the book - perfect for your home library or to give as a gift to a little artist or catlover in your life. This level also includes the E-Book!

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    • Hardcover picture book
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    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    Black Cat Appreciation Package

    Did you know that black cats have a harder time getting adopted? Quelle catastrophe! Noir says "non" to that - because he knows very well that black cats are magical and inspiring! In honor of Black Cat Appreciation Day, founded by the ASPCA to raise awareness about this issue, we are offering a special reward. You'll receive a hardcover copy of The Artist Who Loved Cats, and we will donate a book to the ASPCA's Book Buddies program, where kids read books to shelter cats. Your gift will help kids build literacy skills and the cats learn social skills that help them get adopted. Purr-fection!

    Includes:
    • Hardcover picture book
    • Donated Copy
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    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    A SIGNED Hardcover Copy of the Book

    A hardcover copy, signed by Susan and Courtenay! And oui, we can personalize that to whomever you'd like! Also, includes the e-book.

    Includes:
    • Signed Hardcover Copies of The Artist Who Loved Cats
    • E-Book Download
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    Pledge $40 or more About $40

    SIGNED Black Cat Appreciation Package

    By request! A signed copy of The Artist Who Loved Cats for you, plus a copy donated to ASPCA!

    Includes:
    • Signed Hardcover Copies of The Artist Who Loved Cats
    • Donated Copy
    • E-Book Download
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    Pledge $45 or more About $45

    Two Hardcover Books!!

    Need a second copy for a friend, a baby shower or your favorite teacher? Voila - here you go! Also includes the E-book!

    Includes:
    • TWO Hardcover Books
    • E-Book Download
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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    Deluxe Black Cat Appreciation (ASPCA)

    Includes two signed books for you, plus we will donate two books to ASPCA/Book Buddies Program!

    Includes:
    • E-Book Download
    • Signed Hardcover Copies of The Artist Who Loved Cats
    • Donated Copy
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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Three SIGNED Books + SIGNED Art Print!

    In addition to two autographed hardcover books, you'll receive your choice of one of three illustrations printed on 8x10 archival art paper, signed and numbered by Courtenay.

    Includes:
    • Two SIGNED Hardcover Books + a SIGNED Art Print
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    Pledge $105 or more About $105

    Trois Chats Noir: 3 for you, 3 for ASPCA

    Like the Deluxe Black Cat Appreciation package, but with one more signed book for you, and one more book donated to the ASPCA!

    Includes:
    • Donated Copy
    • Signed Hardcover Copies of The Artist Who Loved Cats
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    Pledge $135 or more About $135

    The Complete Collection - Signed!

    ALL 5 of our books (the collection keeps growing!), signed by Courtenay and Susan. You will receive hardcover copies of Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs, The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm (co-authored with LeVar Burton), The Big Adventures of Tiny House, and The Artist Who Loved Cats, plus a paperback of Susan's novel Inspired....all in a stylish custom tote bag!

    Includes:
    • One set of our other books
    • Custom Tote
    • Paperback Novel
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    Pledge $135 or more About $135

    Five SIGNED Hardcover Books + Tote

    Receive 5 hardcover copies of The Artist Who Loved Cats signed by Courtenay and Susan, as well as a custom tote inspired by the book.

    Includes:
    • Signed Hardcover Copies of The Artist Who Loved Cats
    • Custom Tote
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    Pledge $210 or more About $210

    Ten Hardcover Books + A Tote

    With 10 copies of the book, you'll have perfect gifts for all the cat lovers, Francophiles and aspiring artists in your life! Includes the E-Book and a tote bag, too.

    Includes:
    • 10× Hardcover picture book
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    Pledge $325 or more About $325

    Chat about Le Chat!

    Meet the author and illustrator via Skype or Facetime! We will spend an hour chatting with you (or your class, writer's group, book club, scout troop, etc) about the inspiration and creative process behind our books - and the package includes the complete collection of all 5 of our books, + 30 bookmarks! (P.S. For Los Angeles county backers, we could do a classroom visit or meet for cafe au lait for an hour!).

    Includes:
    • 5 books + Skype session + 30 bookmarks
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    Pledge $360 or more About $360

    20 Signed Books + Signed Art

    Twenty signed copies of the book, plus you receive all three 8x10 signed art prints OR a 11x17 signed art print. Plus, 5 books will be donated to ASPCA.

    Includes:
    • 20× Signed Hardcover Copies of The Artist Who Loved Cats
    • Signed Art Print(s)
    • Donated Copy
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    Pledge $425 or more About $425

    Immortalize Your Cat in a Book!

    This is Noir's favorite reward! Courtenay will create a custom illustrated portrait of your cat, which will appear in the "Patron Cats" gallery on the dedication page of the book! You will also receive an 8x10 art print of your cat's portrait, a .jpg (won't this look cute on your social media or next year's holiday card?) and 5 signed hardcover copies of the book. Just ask Noir...your cat deserves this! Don't have a cat? Courtenay will create a portrait of your or a loved one's "inner cat" self.

    Includes:
    • Signed Hardcover Copies of The Artist Who Loved Cats
    • Custom Art Print
    • E-Book Download
    • PLUS, 5 books will be donated to ASPCA/Book Buddies in your pet'
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    Pledge $425 or more About $425

    This One is for the Dog People!

    Immortalize Your DOG in a Book!

    A few of our canine friends have been clamoring for an opportunity to support the book, so we have added this new reward level :) Limited to three very special dogs! Courtenay will create a custom illustrated portrait of your DOG, which will appear in the "Patron Pets" gallery on the dedication page of the book! You will also receive an 8x10 art print of your dog's portrait, a .jpg (won't this look cute on your social media or next year's holiday card?) and 5 signed hardcover copies of the book.

    Includes:
    • 8" x 10" art print
    • PLUS, 5 books will be donated to ASPCA/Book Buddies in your pet'
    • Signed Hardcover Copies of The Artist Who Loved Cats
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    Pledge US$ 675 or more About US$ 675

    School Visit Special!

    The author and illustrator will come to your school or enrichment program and give 1-2 engaging, educational assemblies on the inspiration and creative process behind the making of The Artist Who Loved Cats! This package also Includes 30 (yes, THIRTY!) books (can be 30 copies of The Artist Who Loved Cats or any combination of our books). We will also provide bookmarks for all the students. Transportation is included within a 40-mile radius of Encino, CA (otherwise, school/backer must cover basic travel costs).

    Includes:
    • 30× Hardcover picture book
    • Educational Presentation
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    Pledge $1,100 or more About $1,100

    Friends of Noir

    Merci beaucoup! Your generosity will be acknowledged on the dedication page* of the book and on our website, and you will also receive 10 signed books, a complete set of our other titles, a tote bag, 3 8x10" signed art prints and a 16x20 inch signed art poster of the book's cover illustration.

    Includes:
    • One set of our other books
    • 10× Signed Hardcover Copies of The Artist Who Loved Cats
    • Custom Tote
    • 8" x 10" art print
    • 16x20 cover print
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    Pledge $2,500 or more About $2,500

    Benefactor

    Magnifique! You will receive all of the benefits of the "Friends of Noir" package AND 20 additional signed books AND Susan and Courtenay will do a live reading of the book, Q & A, and lead a fun art activity at your event (date TBA, travel expenses outside of Southern California not included). This is a wonderful option for museums, libraries, galleries, Steinlen collectors, etc!

    Includes:
    • One set of our other books
    • 8" x 10" art print
    • 30× Signed Hardcover Copies of The Artist Who Loved Cats
    • 16x20 cover print
    • Custom Tote
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Funding period

- (33 days)