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Minilab Bookshelf | Archie Snufflekins… CAT 🐈

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At Minilab, we make no bones about the fact that we love cats. Our first app was all about a cat. So when we saw that Flying Eye Books were publishing Archie Snufflekins Oliver Valentine Cupcake Tiberius Cat, we couldn’t wait to get our paws on a copy! Everybody on Blossom Street knows this cat, all by a different name, but they don’t know it… until one day he goes missing and in doing so, brings together the whole community.

This charming tale is incredible new talent Katie Harnett’s first picture book and to celebrate, we invited Katie over for a chat!

1. Is Archie, Snufflekins.. based on any cat that you have known?

Archie Snufflekins isn’t based on any one cat, but probably a mix of a few. There was a maine coon cat that I called Trev who used to visit me, and my parents once took in and fed what they thought was a stray cat (which they named Jess), until they realised that the neighbours were doing the same! So she was very much like Archie. Blossom Street is actually based on a street I used to walk down in Cambridge which i (inventively) called cat street, because there were always great cats there (one once jumped on my shoulders and rode down the road as if I was a chariot.)

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2. Do you have a cat? And what is he/she called? 

Sadly no! But luckily there are a lot of cats in my neighbourhood, so I can watch them going about their day from my studio window. We also have a cat flap, so they often come into the house of their own accord during the night and scare the living daylights out of me. Here’s a very low res picture of some cats having a clandestine meeting in my garden.

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3. Who is your favourite fictional cat?

Oh wow this is a tricky one. Probably Slinky Malinki, I loved the books as a child, and it’s also a great name. But there are so many, obviously Mog is wonderful, and the Aristocats too.

4. Can you tell us a little about how you work? Did you hand draw and colour the whole book or was some done digitally? 

I hand draw and paint all of my work, using a mix of watercolour, gouache, acrylic and pencil crayons. I then scan it in and edit things a little bit on Photoshop – often the colours haven’t quite scanned right, or I’ve not been quite as neat as I’d like to be. Occasionally I will paint an element separately and then drop it in on top, for example if I think something small needs adding or changing, but most of the spreads exist as paintings.

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5. Which illustrators/ artists are you most impressed and influenced by? Both legendary illustrators and fresh new talent?

So many, it’s hard to edit a list! But off the top of my head people who impress and inspire me include Isabelle Arsenault, Beatrice Alemagne, Violeta Lopiz, Carson Ellis, Ping Zhu, Jillian Tamaki, Jonny Hannah, Emily Sutton, Mark Hearld, Eric Ravilious, Tove Jansson and Jon Klassen. I also know so many illustrators who are making work that is so great, but we’d be here all day if I listed them all, so i’ll give special mention to Maisie Shearring, who helps and inspires me, so still counts even though she’s my friend.

Katie’s brilliant book is out now, available to buy online here and in all great bookshops!

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