We have had some amazing illustration submissions for issue 03 ‘cats and hags’. We wanted to delve into the mind of the artist who created our lonely, old cat lady.
London-based illustrator Claudine O’Sullivan takes a look into the future with this vivid self-portrait. For some, the prospect of a spinster-esque existence accompanied by only “four-legged friends” is a daunting one. But for animal-lover Claudine, the depiction is an ideal destiny. Old Tat couldn’t agree more.
What’s the piece called?
Self portrait, circa 2069.
What inspired it?
Satirical future fiction, a visualisation of the ‘what I’m going end up like when I’m 80’ daydream.
Is your future 80-year-old self happy?
I’ve purposely avoided obviously conveying the character’s personality, emotion or specific details of the scenario. Hopefully she can convey different emotions and alternate storylines to different people. My idea was to trigger a playful narrative that can have multiple connotations or meanings.
What do cats mean to you?
I’m an animal lover, to me cats signify intelligence and independence. As a London flat-dweller I’m currently pet-less but if this premonition is correct, there is likely to be many four legged friends in the years to come.
Do you think there are old ladies out there that live like this now?
This was only ever intended as a playful, imaginary depiction, not an actual representation of the elderly! I was inspired by the common metaphor of feminine old age and humorous self reflection – intending to illustrate a character that is open to alternate interpretations.
You attribute a lot of your inspiration to photojournalism, urban landscapes etc. Would you say you are an observer?
Definitely, my approach to research and reference collection is quite journalistic. I like to think I’m quite aware of my surroundings – I have a huge library of reference photos, sketches and notes collected from my travels and day to day. This piece is actually a collage of references; the lady is a woman I photographed in rural Slovakia while the cats are mostly strays captured in my photos and sketches from a recent trip to Dubrovnik. In terms of outcome, I see illustration as an emotive medium of communication, not necessarily journalistic but instead evocative, playful and open to interpretation.
Considering this, in what way does this piece reflect our society?
Hopefully this image instills a mixture of possible meanings – I would hope most interpretations to be on a playful and personal level rather than a broader comment on society itself.
Illustration by Claudine O’Sullivan
Words by Alice Freeman