Are you part of The Cats Cult?
If you pay attention, and you know how to look, you can almost see their feline mind control rays washing over us, embedded in the WiFi signals. Every time your friend shows you an adorable cat .gif, the cult sinks its tendrils a little more into your consciousness.
I discovered The Cats Cult the way I discover many of my favorite artists — while on a long walk around Austin, a city that is highly decorated with graffiti, wheatpastes, murals, stickers and all forms of street art. The bright colors and psychedelic style attracted me to the image: an orange tom cat, third eye open, apparently wearing a red t-shirt and taking a selfie, all framed by a mystical triangle and the hashtag #catscult.
While he sometimes sells sticker packs, t-shirts and other merchandise, and is planning an upcoming crowdfunding campaign, he mostly gives his art away. Patton’s creations are full of rainbow-colored, distorted or glitched out cats, surrounded by a weird, almost Warholian collection of pop culture detritus like Fiji water bottles, the MTV logo, or the cast of “Seinfeld.” It’s a bit like graffiti created by the Google AI that learned to recognize cats.
Patton is excited to have his stickers included in my holiday giveaway. When we caught up by phone, he told me he moved to Austin about a decade ago to be involved in our film scene, but is currently mostly focused on his artwork.
The Cats Cult got started because he wanted to create something iconic like Shepard Fairey’s “Obey” or local favorite Good Luck Buddha, but with the flavor of internet culture and its obsession for all things cute and nostalgic.
“I’m in my 20s, going on my 30s, and everybody my age either has kids, or their pets are their kids,” Patton told me. “And I found it really creepy how people love their cats so much, and would dress up their cats.”
Patton may find it “creepy,” but he’s no exception: he admits to spending hours on YouTube watching cat videos while under the ever-watchful gaze of his furry companion. Imagining his cat as a sort of otherworldly conscience, Patton began creating #catscult art. The cult’s aesthetic is eye-catching and memorable without being “kitschy.”
“Instead of having those dorky ‘Hang in there’ posters, I want to have cat propaganda posters,” he continued.
Another obvious influence behind The Cats Cult is Lisa Frank, once the queen of the 80s classroom. “I always thought that the girls that had it were so cool, because it had vibrant colors.”
Similar merchandise geared towards boys, however, never had animals or the same flare, tending more toward early geometric computer-generated imagery.
“I’m kind of creating stuff that when I was a kid wouldn’t be cool,” he said. “But now it’s cool to be a cat person.”
Like me, Patton enjoys exploring urban environments to discover hidden works of art. Stickers, in particular, can beautify and enliven otherwise dull or “gross” parts of a city, and The Cats Cult is a way to participate in that visual conversation.
“It’s always cool to see a weird image when you least expect it.”
Become a Gonzo Insider before December 1, 2017 and get scott crow’s book “Emergency Hearts, Molotov Dreams,” plus a sticker from The Cats Cult and more as a thank you gift for supporting my journalism.
#Catscult On Stickers, Cats & Street Art: ‘It’s Cool To Be A Cat Person’ by Kit O’Connell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://kitoconnell.com/2017/11/01/catscult-art-cool-cat-person/.