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Faye Moorhouse: Birken Cat Goes to Space

Work / Illustration

Illustrator Faye Moorhouse has made a trilogy of zines about her cat

We love Faye Moorhouse’s illustrations – we love the weird humour of them, we love their naivety, and we love the craft that goes into their making, which employs an extensive range of materials, including gouache, acrylic, pencil, ink, ceramic, collage and digital software. In her words: “My style is very immediate and messy. And hopefully funny – and a bit dark!”

Birken Cat Goes to Space is the third zine in Faye’s trilogy of publications dedicated to her cat, Birken (the previous instalments being Birken Cat Goes to Iceland and Birken Cat Goes to Hawaii). As she describes the series: “The stories are based on my cat, with a couple of cameos in the later two zines from my dog, Bear. Before Birken came to live with us she was an indoor cat in a tower block, and I imagined her secretly going on these big adventures.”

Together, Birken and Bear build space ships from boxes, tape, a shoe and a grape. They blast off and zoom past the sun, their engines spluttering out of fuel as they reach an alien planet populated by red-mouthed crocodile-slug creatures! Faye tells us: “The ideas for my stories often come about when I’m painting, I’ll paint one little character or scene and then BOOM, they give me a whole story. Well, not a whole story, more like the bare bones of one; it can take a bit of time to make the story work. I usually write the story out first, then do a really basic storyboard before painting the final artwork.”

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Faye Moorhouse: Birken Cat Goes to Space

Faye’s freehand illustrations employ the wash effect of gouache, lending a wonderful spontaneity and depth of texture to the images that complements the playfulness of her rhymed narrative. Speaking of the material process behind the work, she states: “I’ve made a lot of zines over the years, each one is made slightly differently and I actually love the process of putting them together. For this zine, I made the illustrations in black gouache, and then assembled and coloured them digitally on Photoshop. I make each spread as a separate PSD file and then import them into Indesign where I put them in order and export as a PDF. Then I double, triple, quadruple check everything before sending it off to print. Then I just keep everything crossed that they turn out okay once printed!”

In terms of the continued development of her practice, Faye tells us: “My work is naturally branching off in two directions at the moment, I’m working on a lot of larger standalone paintings for galleries and exhibitions. And I’m also still enjoying making zines and working towards getting a picture book published. That’s one of my big dreams, and part of the reason I keep making my self-published zines – just to keep on practising writing and illustrating stories.”

So, as someone who owns both a cat and a dog, is Faye a cat person or a dog person? She says: “I love cats. I always had them growing up, but now we have a cat and a dog. They are completely different beasts. Cats are so easy and free, no trouble at all. Dogs are such a huge responsibility and really hard work. Well, mine are! But I love them both!” We also love cats and dogs, but we’re secretly hoping that, with the completion of the Birken Cat trilogy, there might be a Bear Dog series in the works…

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Faye Moorhouse: Birken Cat Goes to Space

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Faye Moorhouse: Birken Cat Goes to Space

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Faye Moorhouse: Birken Cat Goes to Space

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Faye Moorhouse: Birken Cat Goes to Space

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Faye Moorhouse: Birken Cat Goes to Space

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Faye Moorhouse: Birken Cat Goes to Space