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!
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.
*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.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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