A cat purrs as it rolls around gleefully on a floral armchair next to its owner, while another floats dreamily across a pond on a lily pad. Fat cats, skinny cats, tabby cats, ginger cats and everything-in-between cats. Yet what they all have in common is that they’re all creations of illustrator Helene Weston.
“You know that crazy girl on YouTube who loves cats? Every kind of cat?… Umm, that’s me!
I just love them,” muses Helene. Currently based in Cornwall, the children’s book illustrator has made moggies her muse. This she attributes to her younger years and the nostalgia of growing up surrounded by furry friends in a town called Ashby-de-la-Zouch. “We always had cats. One in particular was called Fred. She was a girl but we found out too late and had already named her.” Helene continues to reminisce, “She was my best friend when I was little and she’d let me dress her up and push her about in a dolls pram. I also used to pull her through the letter box! She didn’t seem to mind at the time.”
These fond memories (and somewhat traumatic ones for Fred the cat) have formed the basis for Helene’s love affair with the feline species. “I think I actually prefer them to humans most of the time!” She explains, “cats are so much fun to draw, they have such great personalities. I love how they can be grumpy as hell one minute and your best friend the next.”
For Helene, settling down with a brew with a fluffy cat at her feet is the recipe for success. “I love sitting down with a load of children’s picture books, a cup of tea and a packet of chocolate hobnobs.” Yet currently, she’s taking a break from commissions to devote some time to look after her “small human” (thirteen-month-old baby) instead. “She’s kind of like a pet cat but less hairy and a lot more demanding!”
Let’s just hope mini-Helene doesn’t take after her mother too much…cats never were designed to fit through the neighbours’ letter box!
Illustration by Helene Weston www.helenetheillustrator.co.uk
Words by Alice Freeman