With their inherent fluffy cuteness, big gooey eyes and an ‘I’m adorable and I own this place’ attitude, cats seem to be ruling the Internet. Scroll down the news feed of any social networking site and you’ll definitely find numerous cat pictures with people of all age groups going absolutely gaga over them. If you too happen to be one of those people and go all “Aw, look at how adorable that kitten is”, then you definitely need to read further. Your love for the feline species will grow multi-fold when you see what artist Hiroko Kubota has in store for cat lovers.
For Hiroko Kubota, a Japanese embroidery artist, it all started with a simple request from her son for whom she made custom sized clothes: he wanted his shirts adorned with cats. Little did she know that these shirts featuring furry cats peeping out of pockets would make the internet world fall in love with her unique cat art. The marvelous response surprised Hiroko and encouraged her to open an Etsy shop under the name Go!Go!5 through which she started selling these unique shirts, making the cat fanatics super thrilled.
TYS had the opportunity to get in touch with Hiroko and know more about her work and beautifully embroidered ‘neko’ shirts.
Q. What was the inspiration behind the cat shirts?
I was inspired by designs from the old days which used the appliqué needlework technique on shirt pockets for children. It really excites children when they see something like animals peeping out of their pockets. Though my children have already grown up, I like to please and surprise them with the clothes I make.
Q. How did you get started in your career as an embroidery artist? Did your education help you in your current work?
I did not learn embroidery formally. I started dressmaking after my child was born. In the beginning, I sold handmade accessories through the internet. My English is poor, but it is surely useful now.
Q. What about the art of embroidery catches your fancy?
It brings pleasure to an embroidery artist when he/she looks at thread, just the way a painter feels happy when he looks at paint. There’s beauty in the luster and shine of the thread.
Q. How do you select your cat models for each shirt? Also, have you embroidered any animal other than cats on your shirts?
I always use a reference picture for the embroidery. My clients provide me with the cat images they want on their shirts.
Yes, I’ve embroidered dogs, rabbit, gold fish, crocodile and a frog too!
Q. What’s your favourite cat embroidery design?
These are my favourite ones:
Q. What’s the most bizzare client request you’ve received?
A client once asked me to embroider a horse. Well actually, even dogs are not supposed to be embroidered on shirt pockets.
Q. What does art mean to you?
I don’t consider my embroidery to be art because my shirts are meant to be sold to the people who order them. You could’ve called it art if that wasn’t the case. Well, I don’t know much about these things, I am just a simple woman who started embroidering cats on shirts for her son.
Hiroko’s modesty is pretty admirable but we won’t shy away from appreciating her art. After all, one rarely gets to see such fine thread work with intricate detailing. No wonder everybody (including us, of course) is in love with her cat shirts!