Craft & Artisan Producers Fair in Bromyard

Dear  cat-lovers!

Finally, we can share some fantastic news with you this morning! Recently, The Cat Shop has been invited to participate in two arts and crafts markets: this Saturday (16th of April) we will be in Bromyard attending a newly created arts and craft show organized by the wonderful Conquest Theatre and on 23th of April, you will be able to meet us in Stratford-upon-Avon! We have to say, we are truly delighted to be distinguished – to join the famous market in Stratford, you have to be placed on a reserve list and wait for months to have a stand. Yet, we have been extremely lucky to be noticed and to be invited. Thank you kindly to those who made it all possible!

The Bromyard Craft & Artisan Producers Fair will start exactly at 10:00 am and will last till 13:00 pm. The event will be placed in the theatre foyer and the admittance is free. So please come and admire the fantastic creations made by local arts and crafters!

Please visit their official pages for more information:
https://www.facebook.com/events/956393824446157/
www.conquest-theatre.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/ConquestTheatre/

As usually, we have been preparing well for the occasion. Our stock has been updated and we have framed newly created artworks. Some of them have been described on our blog in the last few weeks, so if you’d like to find out more please visit our previous entries to learn about each picture’s history and stories behind them:
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2016/03/22/worcester-easter-festival/
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2016/03/23/worcester-easter-market-part-2/

01. “Up and Away”

Framing “Up and away” has been a true pleasure! Designed by Mal and finished by Rita, this lovely artwork is one of our favourites. We still cannot get over the fact that we have used about 2 cm of golden string before Athabasca (our boss cat) has claimed the rest as a toy! That’s a very expensive cat-toy as the artistic string costs £5 pounds per meter!

Up and Away framed

Up and Away framed

02. “(Wibbly wobbly) Timey wimey cat”

This artwork has been created last year around 3 am (eternal) in the morning before the Artisan Market in Senglea in Malta. There is one thing all artists must know before participating in any artistic markets on the island – the markets on Malta are absolutely bonkers! You start very early and you continue long after the sun has set. Be prepared for very long hours, thousands of tourists, who come in and go out then come in again and go out yet again to return for a next circle 20 minutes later. Your voice is gone before the lunch!

Wibbly wobbly timey wimey...cat

Wibbly wobbly timey wimey…cat

Our blue feline friend is named “(Wibbly wobbly) Timey wimey cat”, an obvious reference to our beloved 10th Doctor, played by David Tennant. We are sure, there are cats on Gallifray and this might be just one of them. Do you like “Doctor Who”? This Timelord kitten will take you on an adventure through time and space. Please be aware, the artwork comes with a sonic art frame!

Wibbly wobbly timey wimey cat framed

Wibbly wobbly timey wimey cat framed

03. Falling into place

Do you like puzzles? We have to admit, we are not big fans of them but cats are mysterious creatures and they puzzled human race since times immemorial. We love that pun so we decided to literally create a puzzle cat and named it “Falling into place”. Those who live with any animals can swear that pets are the last missing puzzle piece to complete our lives.

Falling into place framed

Falling into place framed

04. Flower power

“Flower Power” and “Falling into Place” have been made on the same day and were also framed one after the other. They are using semi-transparent paper to create a unique 3D effect. Did you know there is another cat in our catalogue that is part of the mini cat-series? It is a portrait of Athabasca, our beloved kitten! You can purchase all three of them for a single price! This is what we call a real bargain.

Flower power framed

Flower power framed

05. The impossible kitten

The titular Impossible Kitten has been made by Malicia and is a mirror reflection of the cat used in “Up and Away”. Her name is Clara, another reference to Doctor Who TV series. We tell you, our cats are pop culture felines!

The impossible kitten framed

The impossible kitten framed

06. A lot of blooming fun part 1 & 2

 Those two very lovely cat artworks were very hard to make. Rita complained before on our blog that it took her ages to glue all flowers together and that her fingers were cut and bleeding from working with artistic metallic sheets. Once we framed them, we realized that they look very oriental. Japanese people have a term for watching cherry trees blossoming. It is known as “Hana mi” (flower watching festivals) and thousands of people are drawn to public parks to witness the true celebration of spring.

As much as Rita likes them now – framed and finished, she will be truly happy when they are sold. They still remind her of the painful struggle to make them!

A lot of blooming fun part 1 framed

A lot of blooming fun part 1 framed

A lot of blooming fun part 2 framed

A lot of blooming fun part 2 framed

07. Butterflies Spotting

This kitten can be described as a younger sister to artwork called “In Bloom”.  It incorporates the same idea – showing a black cat staring out of the window and looking into a beautiful garden. You don’t see the cat`s face but you get a glimpse of a traditional English country garden, full of flowers and butterflies. Obviously – the cat is closely observing the insects and is not interested in the humans at all. “Butterflies Spotting” is smaller than “In Bloom” yet more focused. It can truly brighten your living room, a patio or  a cottage.

Like many of our artworks, the title is a reference. “In Bloom” is named after a song by Nirvana. “Butterflies Spotting” takes a playful twist on book/film “Train spotting”. Choose kittens, choose butterflies…

Butterflies Spotting framed

Butterflies Spotting framed

In Bloom - the big sister

In Bloom – the big sister

The curator

As you all know, each artist needs a manager and each exhibition needs a curator. We would like to introduce you to our boss and slave driver – Athabasca the white, AKA Oriental Shorthair, The Arctic Cat, The White Terror, The White Walker, Half Persian-Half Siamese Bandit, The Loud One and Basca (for short). This 16 + old, completely deaf, all white and spoiled-rotten kitten approves our efforts to convince the world that cats should rule the planet.

In her spare time, she likes to play with strings, catnip filled toys (mice shaped) and sleep on laptops and  chairs.

Basca the art curator

Basca the art curator

Obey the master and like The Cat Shop on social media.

Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/VanadianAvenue/the-cat-shop/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thecatshopdecor

We will see you in Conquest Theatre, Bromyard on Saturday, 16th of April! Support your local artists by visiting the local markets.

XXX
Rita and Malicia Dabrowicz

 

The Cat Shop Workshops – Cheltenham 12.03.2016

Dear Cat lovers!

What an exciting weekend we had! We are very tired but also extremely proud and happy that we could be a part of something big. If you don’t know what we are talking about, please bear with us for a moment. We will try to explain, but let’s quickly jump to the beginning of the month where our story starts.

You may know it or not, but from time to time (usually every 6 months or so) Rita is forced to go to Cheltenham to see her doctors. While others go to Cheltenham for shopping, antiques hunting or horse racing, Rita spends long afternoons waiting to be assessed.  Those trips are not the happiest times in her life and she usually returns to Worcester at the speed of light. Don’t be surprised, have you ever seen a cat that enjoys going to the vet? No, we didn’t think so. Fourth of March looked like another routine visits – early start, long queues and then planned rapid escape. Sometimes, however, your plans can change in a spur of a moment. Rita decided to stop for lunch and this very trivial thing led to an unusual discovery.

Welcome to the Hobby Craft branch in Cheltenham

Welcome to the Hobby Craft branch in Cheltenham

The Gallagher Retail Park is a place to go when you are hungry. Three fast foods places, two coffee shops and restaurants – all within a short walking distance. And in the middle of the park – an oasis for arters and crafters – local branch of Hobby Craft. We can assure you that Rita ate in less than 10 minutes and then spent an hour and a half replenishing her archives, secret stashes and art cupboards. While looking at the newest cutting machines made by Brother, the ScanNCut series, Rita noticed a small advert asking local artists to contact the management. Interested, she spoke to Malcolm, the manager for the branch and learnt that Hobby Craft organizes seminars and art presentations for their customers where they can learn how to created their own artwork or learn new skills. Quick arrangements were made and The Cat shop was invited to present their skills to the public on Saturday, 12th of March between 11:00AM and 15:00 PM.

Malicia during the presentation

Malicia during the presentation

Exactly at 11 o clock in the morning, Mal, Rita and their two Sizzix machines arrived safely to Cheltenham and the fan began. Working as an artisan on arts market can be tiring, but being an art teacher is a completely different thing and much harder one. You not only have to convince the visitors to dedicate their time to show them your craft but you have to interest them in what are you doing.

Our work station

Our work station

We have been very lucky; a lot of people stopped by, asked many questions, and admired previously made artworks. We received so many compliments that our ears were burning bright red and we are truly thankful for each comment. The most unusual thing was that visitors photographed us at work (it makes you feel like some kind of celebrities) so if you see our pictures on arts and crafts related blogs, please drop us a link.

Malicia hard at work

Malicia hard at work

We made three complete artworks during the workshop, showing different styles that can be used in home decorating. Malicia presented how to create kids friendly artworks (Princess Birthday Party) using large applications and elements you can purchase in Hobby Craft. Kids have natural talent towards art and unlimited imagination so involving them early (about 2-3 years old) can be great fun. You only have to remember about giving them soft materials to work with – paper and fabric and glue are perfectly safe for them. Malicia’s demonstration was aimed at 6-7 year olds as we worked with buttons, ribbons, stick on gems and small plastic elements.

Artworks on display

Artworks on display

Another artwork we did during the workshops was directed at adults who are looking for a clever ways of re-using materials they have at home. Old magazines, pictures, birthday cards – everything can be recycled instead of being thrown away. Rita used Sizzix machine to cut the cat and the flowers and scissors to add additional elements such as the heart and trimmings. The artwork entitled “The cat emblem” can be framed and be displayed in guest bedroom or in the lounge.

Artsy kittens

Artsy kittens

The last presentation piece was created to teach the visitors the basic ideas behind the immensely popular scrapbooking. Again, we have used decorative paper, stick on gems and pages from old art magazines to come up with a fun project. We called it “Just a note”. Freshly done, it was given straight away to a young visitor named Mariah, who loves arts, crafts and kittens. She was really pleased with her gift and declared that she will have it framed and hang above her bed.

Princess Birthday Party

Princess Birthday Party

If you’d like to take part in any arts and crafts workshops, please contact the store management at:

Hobby Craft Cheltenham
Unit B, Gallagher Retail Park
Tewkesbury Road Cheltenham GL51 9RR
http://www.hobbycraft.co.uk/cheltenham

The Cat Emblem

The Cat Emblem

Just a note

Just a note

The store in Cheltenham is open every day between 9:00 and 20:00 on weekdays, 09:00 – 18:00 on Saturdays and from 10:30 – 16:30 on Sundays.
We will be returning to Cheltenham in the future so please keep visiting our blog or our Facebook page for more information.

Please don’t forget that we will be taking part in Worcester Easter Festival arts and crafts market on the High Street on 25th and 26th of March.  We will be updating you so stay tuned!

Be well,
Rita and Malicia Dabrowicz

The copy-cat

Hello Dear Readers,

Stealing ideas and art-theft are terrible things for any creative. Unfortunately, they tend to happen to all good artists and more often than we would like to admit. We have seen it happen to people we know, but never in our wildest dreams, we would expect that some vile person would try to do this to us. Well, you must have guessed already: our number just came up.

This Saturday, we have been contacted by quite a few people who asked us if we were taking part in the Malta Street Art Festival. We said we weren’t . Rita was not even on the island as she was spending a weekend in Wales. I planned to sort out materials for upcoming blogs. So, none of us was even aware that Malta Street Art Festival was taking place!

But the fact that we were not in Valletta didn’t mean a thing. Because The Cat Shop apparently was. It also miraculously changed profile from artisan artworks to cupcakes and games.

Rita and I at 2015 Earth Garden Festival

Rita and I at 2015 Earth Garden Festival

I was appalled – it was more than obvious that somebody was using our name. But the rest of the news was even more shocking. Not only somebody took our name, they also claimed they were the original Cat Shop and we were the imposters! This apparently happened the previous day (Friday), so I had to put my work away, packed my cameras and headed to the capital to check what was happening.

To cut long story short, I found a stand of Neko Maid Café – young girls dressed in matching cosplay uniforms, playing games and handing out cupcakes. I spoke to some of them and learned that the entire project was organized by an Italian girl nicknamed “Luna”. She was doing similar outings in Italy and she just recently relocated to Malta. There was also a boy dressed in a tux with whom I spoke. From him, I learned that they not only been using the name “The Cat Shop”. They were telling everybody they were the original Cat Shop. I also seen people from Neko Maid to take photos with people wearing cat ears and there was a talk about a guest book where people could draw cats.

My heart sunk because what they were doing was not just taking our name, they took our entire strategy. No small wonder people were confused and were asking me if we were selling cup cakes.

You may find it a small issue, but truly, it is a huge deal. Let me tell you about The Cat Shop. It started five years ago (2010) at Earth Garden Festival in Ta Qali, Malta, where Rita was selling her paintings and I did an art installation. We sold few pieces (all of them showing fantastical cats done by Rita) and got a lot of attention. We have been coming back each year with a new idea. We have a unique set up with rattan boxes and a table, we have a guest book and we encourage people to draw in it, cats or whatever – to keep the creativity going. We wear cat ears and often allow people to take selfies with them for fun (even if they are not buying anything). This year, we wore identical outfits and told people that we planned to change into Victorian era clothing starting next year. We teamed with a great British photographer and acted his Cat Assistants. Each of those elements is unique to our stand. But this is not all. As The Cat Shop got bigger and more recognizable, we had to adjust ourselves. We got a VAT number, we have a VAT book in case somebody wants a receipt, we organize drawing workshops for kids. Each festival we speak to hundreds of people, we scan our guest books and put them on our blog. It is enormous work load for weeks before and after the festival.

First page of our Cat Shop guestbook

First page of our Cat Shop guestbook

Children drawing during 2013 workshop we organized during Earth Festival. Photo my own.

Children drawing during 2013 workshop we organized during Earth Festival. Photo my own.

I don’t know what Luna from Neko Maid Café is trying to achieve. But to think that somebody came to our stand at Earth Garden just to copy our entire marketing strategy for their own gain is chilling. You know – The Cat Shop was not set to earn a profit. It was set up to offer kids a place they could draw and be creative. We do sell – don’t get us wrong, but it is always just to cover our stand fee and maybe have a return on our materials. Five long years of trials and errors to build our “brand”, to be recognized in Malta and somebody just takes it all from you and calls you an imposter!

The entire affair made me really sad, and I wanted to let people know what was happening. I made a post on my Facebook protesting that Luna was stealing from us and misleading people. This is what I wrote.

Angry Facebook Post!

Angry Facebook Post!

I tagged The Neko Maid Café, letting them know their behaviour was unacceptable. This is a reply I got.

Response from Luna

Response from Luna

What I want to do now, is to take it bit by bit – to show you Dear Readers, to what extent art theft and idea –theft can go.

Luna begins that they are not using our name. But I was there on Saturday and heard them say they were The Cat Shop more often than they were mentioning their own name. That is one thing. Another is that coping our entire business strategy is just a top of a cat tail!

We want to quote something the creator of Neko Maid Cafe said in her statement. IN case you missed this bit:

Our logo (…) I did it taking from internet, as everybody else in this world I think, a real photo of an headband with cat ears. If anyone will come to me and say that to take a picture from Google and using it to do something as logo or anything is a crime I will respond with that person”.

Now, See the logo of the Neko Maid Cafe. The chibi cat girl image is from anime series, which title I could not track as we speak. But I will. The cat bell comes from DiGi Charat series. The image of the hair band is somebody`s actual photo. Copy righted materials – all of it, found on Google. Luna obviously is not aware of copy rights and that she has to have a written permission from the creator of said artwork if she plans to use it. Unauthorized usage of somebody`s work is opening yourself to a criminal liability. Also argument that something was found on Google is irrelevant. Luna – please get it. If something is on the Internet, it doesn’t mean you can use it. Especially for your own financial gain. Most people do their own illustrations, works and if they have to use somebody`s materials, they at least give a link.

Logo of the Neko Maid Cafe

Logo of the Neko Maid Cafe

Next thing. Neko Maid Café is using original artworks and fan arts (also found on Google we suppose) to promote Luna`s Facebook page. This is again, unauthorized and can cause you legal issues. I don’t think that Kyoto Animation is aware that you use pictures from K-On series. On the side, this anime is about a band, not maids. The irony.

Unauthorized use of K-On! series.

Unauthorized use of K-On! series.

But hey, original or not original stuff – doesn’t really matter. You also did flyers using somebody`s fan arts. Did you get their permission to do so? Where are the links to artist`s page?

Digital Flyer with somebody`s artwork use

Digital Flyer with somebody`s artwork use

Posting more images - from fans and not a credit in sight!

Posting more images – from fans and not a credit in sight!

Luna is also hardly ashamed to use photos from existing businesses. Like this one from Butler`s Café which is a real life café in Japan. Why leave a link to the original page: http://www.butlers-cafe.jp when you can just steal a photo from them? So much easier.

I wonder if Butler`s Cafe are aware that they supposedly endorsing Neko Maid Cafe.

I wonder if Butler`s Cafe are aware that they supposedly endorsing Neko Maid Cafe.

And what about the cupcakes photo that you have been using? The ones here belong to Kate from NYC, who used to run a Tumblr Holy Cupcakes. Take a photo, crop it badly and nobody will notice?

Photo from Holy Cupcakes

Photo from Holy Cupcakes

Cropped photo on Neko Maids FB Page

Cropped photo on Neko Maids FB Page

I have a bad feeling about the design of the cupcakes you were selling. I`m gonna risk a saying that you probably found the designs on the Internet as well and pass them as your own. After all, you took so many things from so many people and don’t even realize this is utterly wrong. Where do the design come from? Aubergine Chef? Bake Happy? Cake Central? It would be nice to know!

Now the outfits. This is how Neko Maid Café describes what Maid Cafes are, on their own Facebook page:

What is Maid Cafe according to Neko Maids Cafe

What is Maid Cafe according to Neko Maids Cafe

The Victorian outfits! And this is where they got their own costumes – they are ready made French Maids (Sexy) costumes made in China. On EBay they sell for 9.90 USD.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Blue-Black-Lolita-French-Maid-Costume-Dress-Set-Japanese-Cosplay-V101911-/190893998502

I know what you will say – you don’t have money, you start up, your helpers are just teenagers who want to do something. That is fine, but – most of the artists put a lot of time and effort into what they do. The materials cost us. If we have to go low budget, we do it ourselves. Going for ready-made cosplay costumes may save you time but – it is a cheap practice. And somebody has to call you on it. Scrooge would be proud of you, but we are not impressed.

The guest book – you say it is a scrap book now. Sure now, but it will be a full blown guest book like ours next event. Sure it is ok to ask customers for a review or a note. But asking customers to draw cats in your guestbook is our idea. Come up with something different. Perhaps ask customers to draw maids. Or cupcakes. Or hamsters. They are also cute.

I want to make another point for the end of the post. In Japan, each café has their own games and strategy, they develop it themselves. If they use a game developed in another café, they give credits, exchange banners, give feedback. This is how Japanese society work – they are polite, professional and work in teams. I am not sure if you know how it works. Things you have been doing would completely alienate you from the entire network, had you been operating in Japan. No-one would be willing to work with you. What you are doing is in itself anti thesis of what Maid Cafes aspire to.

And this is not a flame. I am just mad that you had to do this to me. Or to my sister.

Malicia

**** Update 27.07.2015****

Our incredible blog stats!

Our incredible blog stats!

Rita and I would like to thank everybody who visited the blog, commented and shared our story. Over 200 visits in less than 24 hours. Way over the average on the blog. We would like to give a mention to Oliko (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Oliko/412150938842783) our long time friend and fellow artist, for her help in our investigation. Without you people and your kindness, we`s surely lose a lot of faith in the humankind.

We have asked Luna to reply but so far she has been silent. We would like to hear from her – plain and simple – why she steals from other people, and so many at it.

In the mean time, please keep on sharing the story, art theft is so common, that every artist should check their back. Sad but true.

Malicia

****Update 02/08/2015****

Dear Readers,

We are in August now. I like this time of year. In Malta it is heavily humid and dry, but in other parts of the globe the heat will ease and the best part of summer will begin – Indian Summer. No longer scorching temperatures but not yet quite Autumn. Perfect time to grab some good iced coffee from Starbucks and write. I am hoping to tackle the back load and have more updates on the blog. I realize I must sound like a middle-aged Seattleite now 😉

Our spiking blog stats!

Our spiking blog stats!

It` s been a week since we have discovered we had an evil doppelganger. Truly crazy week, so much support and our stats went as high as Space Needle! Both Rita and I are grateful. We spoke to other artists, who have experienced the same thing, our blog have been shared by professional journalists (thank you Tanja Cilia!) and even Malta Dizastru TOTALI !!!!!!! gave us a mention. I thought I will put an end to this story, but not without writing another entry. Because there are points that I feel need to be brought up before we will move on.

The fact that over a thousand people read our story in just about a week proves how rampant art theft is in online community. It would be a good starting point to debate what can we do about it and where the “sharing economy” will take us in the future. How can we – The Creative Ones – protect ourselves from vile people, who take from us.

I know I should not use word “vile”, but that is what you are if you build your brand by stealing. I believe everybody deserves a chance, but then again. I have spent working on something five long years and it has been taken from me and used by somebody to make a profit. How can anyone not feel bitter?

Mentions and support!

Mentions and support!

Luna of Neko Maid Café made one big mistake. She doesn’t know me and doesn’t realize that I have a great understanding of people like her. She is not the only one that is plaguing the fandom. I`ve seen the likes of her before. I worked in manga magazines for years and attended and co-organized over ten conventions and exhibitions. So what I will do now is to list some of the characteristics of the art thief. Exposing their tactics is the best way to deal with`em:

  • Silence – once you expose an art thief, they will most likely use the strategy of not confronting you. They will pretend it never happened, business as usual. Still, call them out on their actions. Even if you are the only one to do it.
  • Shame – art thieves rely heavily on the fact that artists are sometimes vulnerable, scared or confused. Or worse, artists are good people and will be scared that by exposing the thief, they may harm them. Internet backlash is very real. A story gone viral can turn real mobs on a person. I myself had doubts if I should expose Luna because I was afraid she may be mistreated by other Internet users. I was also shamed by the fact that my work was abused. This is normal. If you have such doubts, stick to the middle of the road. Expose the thief, but you don’t have to shout from the roof tops. Unless you want to. You are in control and you decide how much coverage you want to give to the issue. And don’t be too hard on yourself – being good is not a bad thing.
  • Indifference – art theft happens because there is lack of control tools. Neko Maid Café appeared on Comic Con stand at the Malta Street Art Festival by just sending an email. Nobody from the organizers checked their website or looked into how Luna did her stuff. She was unknown. We have informed the organizers about the theft during the event and wrote them emails but they never got back to us. Thieves go where they are not known, where organizers take everybody as they come. The best way to protect yourself is to ally yourself with certain events on an annual basis. Like we do with Earth Garden. Build yourself a rotation of events, get to know the organizers and they will know you. So will the public.
  • Bullying and abuse – the worst part of the art theft is that they often abuse and bully those who are associated with them. They will get involved with teens, as they are full of will to do something creative but naïve and inexperienced. Perfect combo for a parasite. Look out for the activities, where you have to buy your own costume, sell gadgets or presents and dedicate long hours to prepare events. Fans work like small collectives – whatever you put in belongs to all equally. You should be credited and rewarded in the same measure. If somebody takes credit for everything, if the money goes to the pocket of one person, if the funds that have been raised are not spent on another project – beware! People mistreated are burning out and they leave the fandom disillusioned. They lose the spark and will to do things creatively and work on their own art.
  • Mind games – should be filed under abuse, but I want to make it a separate category. Often the art thief will play mind games with people that they are associated with. Have you ever been forced to do something questionable? Drink or eat something awful, declare love to a table or do something stupid in front of other people or camera? You are not playing games – you are being bullied and groomed. By the time art thief decides to kick you out, everybody else will be against you and you will be the bad one. Stand your ground.
  • Be ahead – when we wrote about our experience, we got a great feedback from a friend and business owner, who also had been though the same experience. She told us not to advertise Luna, but to be ahead of her. And this is what we will be doing in the future. You see, being the creative one gives you an edge. You are the one who comes with the good stuff. You will be always two steps ahead of the trickster. Change your strategy, give new ideas a priority and take a risk. By the time the thief realizes that they have been outsmarted, you will be on two or three new projects.

I hope this post will help other artists or creative people to deal with the damaging experience of encountering an art thief. Be vocal about your experiences, believe in yourself and work on your networking. We may never stomp out the theft but being aware makes one a harder target.

That is all we wanted to say on the topic. I am going to put some Mad Season (what a great band they are!) on and head to sleep.

Rock on dear readers,

Malicia