Behind The Scenes of Cats Against Catcalling
Recently we launched a new collection with illustrator Alaina Ewins. Luckily, we had the chance to ask Alaina a few questions about her process, artwork and Cats Against Catcalling.
How long have you been making art? Have you always been creative?
I’ve been makin’ art and being creative this for as long as I can remember, I guess! As a child I had a tendency to draw a lot, doodling the margins of my homework, all over my notebooks and stuff, and my mother made sure that I had as many creative outlets as possible -- but drawing just stuck. And as I grew, I realized that I wanted to stick with it for as long as I could! So I went to the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts where I majored in Visual Arts, and once I graduated from there, went off to the School of Visual Arts in New York to major in Cartooning. … I have been making art forever.
What is your favorite medium?
It’s a toss up! I love working digitally because it feels very low stress whenever I’m sketching, and also allows me to save a lot of different versions of an illustration, because I am indecisive as hell! But working with plain ol’ pencil and paper is also very satisfying, you know? There’s a stronger sense of connectedness when I can hold a pen in my hand and make a line and it’s permanent. No takebacks. I’ve also started to re-fall in love with watercolors, which was something I did a lot in high school and came back to pretty recently … I’m horrible at favorites.
What drew you to screen printing?
I actually remember being introduced to screenprinting when I was still a kid in Philly. I was fifteen and in the Mural Arts Program’s Big Picture Program, which was essentially like an afterschool program/summer camp where kids would help work out on local murals. We ended up doing an activity with a guest instructor where we designed environmental awareness posters based on the style of old WPA posters. We only got to print one poster that day, everyone in the program doing one color, but it was still pretty fun and left a good impression on me.
Fast forward to my senior year at SVA, where a friend of mine mentioned that she was going to take a screenprinting poster class, and well, that flame was rekindled! I think what brought me back to it was the fact that it was available, but what made me stay was the process -- separations, shooting screens, coming up with concepts. I liked the idea of playing with transparencies, and I loved the idea of making everything in different colors. The work itself was satisfying -- pulling that squeegee and lifting the screen to see that slick, freshly inked patch of color? Yaaaas.
When that same friend alerted me that there was also a fabric screenprinting class, I jumped on that, too! A lot of the things I made in both of these classes I sell in my store.
Where do you do your best work?
At home! Always at home. Or whatever personal space is available. I love sketching on public transportation, or in parks, but final projects are always done in the confines of whatever place I call mine. Since moving to Chicago I’ve actually set up my workspace in the dining room, which is great because it gets so much light (and is super close to the kitchen!)
What does your process look like?
It depends on the project I’m working on. For illustration work it’s pretty straightforward: lots of loose mini sketches that get redrawn and redrawn and turned upside down and erased here, touched up there -- then a final pencil drawing, some really tight inks, and then fun with color! Comics work can be a lot more all over the place, and take a lot longer: I usually start with an idea, bullet out the main points, expand on that outline for what feels like years, edit that outline, sort of make a script … The art starts once I can’t look at a Word document anymore! At that point it goes into l’il thumbnails, expands into penciled pages, then ink and possibly color! There’s a lot of excitement, anxiety, and general “Look at this and tell me if it looks wrong, please” shenanigans that goes into both processes, too.
Who or what inspires you right now?
Friends and family inspire me -- I’m always astonished with what my college friends are getting done and always feel a giant sense of pride when they post about their accomplishments on social media. But currently, my mother is my biggest inspiration! Last summer she was diagnosed with breast cancer which was really intense for me and the family, and seeing where she is now -- cancer free and in the process of creating a line of breast cancer empathy cards? That’s wild to me. She’s following her dreams and all it does is give me the confidence to follow mine.
What are you listening to right now?
HAMILTON. Hamilton: An American Musical. I can’t stop listening to this soundtrack; it literally gives me goosebumps and is by far the funnest musical to sing aloud in public (which is one of my favorite things to do!) Lin Manuel Miranda is an angel among men and that whole album is fire. The Schuyler Sisters and Say No to This are two of my favorite songs, though Helpless and Satisfied consistently get played as much as they do. Basically, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Phillipa Soo, and Jasmine Cephas Jones are my new favorite lady vocalists and they need to stop playing and release an album of girl group covers so I can die happy.
Why Cats Against Catcalling?
… Why not, you know? Street harassment is literally something I mentally prepare for daily, and part of me really just wanted to see a line of clothing combating that on an intimate level. So I guess it’s kind of a selfish reason, haha. I know there are a lot of anti street harassment campaigns out there, but I wanted something that was both aggressive and cute -- something I felt would resonate with girls I know! So, you know, it was time to draw cats basically flipping people off. That's my niche.