I can has lolz?31st January 2013
Lolcats are no doubt one of the most bizarre, yet most popular elements of the internet today. Everyone has seen at least one lolcat in their time. Not everyone really gets them, but it’s near impossible to spend more than 15 minutes browsing the internet without stumbling across one.
Personally, I have been aware of them for a few years now. I am very much a cat person myself, I envy the lifestyle of a cat, and always had cats when growing up. I’m not entirely sure what it is that tickles me so much when an out of context comment is added to a relatively normal picture of a cat, but it really gets me. I can has cheezburger was, and still is, the home of the lolcat, but nowerdays Reddit (the front page of the internet) provides me with my daily dose of lolz.
Early last year, a friend of mine contacted me about a tweet mentioning a lolcat exhibition. It asked for artists, designers, illustrators, anyone creative who might be interested to get in touch. My housemate Andy had also seen the tweet, so we decided to contact the author, Jenny Theolin of Soapbox and Sons.
After a number of emails, the brief was clear. Ignoring the crudely makeshift lolcat aesthetic, each artist had to come up with their unique take on the theme to create a piece of beautiful, amusing and exquisitely crafted art. A few evenings of sketching and brainstorming with Andy led to a handful of ideas worth pursuing, one of which was based on a popular lolcat, Monorail Cat.
Monorail Cat is an image of a cat laying on a rail with its legs and paws tucked underneath, so it looks like some form of monorail. Simple, but effective. My idea was to somehow create a TFL inspired map of Monorail Cat. Initially, the idea felt a little vague, but the more I thought into it, the more fun I started having with the idea. The map could form an outline of a cat, the stations could be named after famous lolcats. Eventually it started to become exciting! I could begin to see the potential of this idea, so I sketched some more and started to visualize my ideas on the Mac. The starting point was developing a logo for the Monorail Cat transport system. A minor tweak to the current TFL logo had me in stitches, Monorail Cat was born!
After the main logo idea was cracked, I moved on to developing the transport system map. Loosely basing the design on a cats face, I started plotting the rail lines, adding stations as I went. After numerous tweaks, the rail system had structure. Further details were added, the zoning system, the location grid, the station names (which are all named after my favorite lolcats), and then then index to stations, all the while making sure to keep to the original design stylings of the TFL tube maps.
Once my design was finished, I submitted my idea to Jenny who instantly approved, and began thinking about printing! I contacted Phil at Gavin Martin Colournet, a printers I am familiar with through working with them at Interstate. We settled on a run of 25, printed on white Spledorgel at 230gsm.
The prints soon arrived at the studio, and it was time to trim, number, sign them and get them in tubes ready to send off to Jenny.
Then came a period of waiting. Jenny was hard at work collecting the artwork, booking venues, organizing sponsors, and being an all round super woman! Dates were confirmed, the gallery was announced as The Framers Gallery, and the charity that this exhibition was in aid of was named as Battersea Dogs and Cats Home!
Then came the private view. Tuesday the 22nd of January, I clocked off work a little early, met with a few friends and headed over to the gallery. We arrived at the gallery just after 6pm and it was already packed! A mixture of artists, friends, guest speakers and media filled the space, the venue was alive with excitement and conversation. I had a good old browse of everyones work, and admired my own work on the wall with a slight feel of disbelief as this was my first private view as a designer. Feels good man.
Jenny proceeded to give a little speech, then introduced Kate Miltner, a Research Assistant at the Social Media Collective at Microsoft Research, New England. Kate wrote her masters dissertation on the phenomenon of lolcats, so who better to talk at the private view!
The night went off with a bang! The exhibition has been an incredible success, and due to Jenny’s amazing PR skills, the exhibition has had some great coverage from the likes of The BBC, Time out, Fox News, Wired, Creative Review, Design Taxi, and more…
As well as the exhibition getting huge coverage, I managed to get a mini feature in Computer Arts magazine!
And to end on a high, I found out yesterday (Tuesday 29th) that Monorail Cat sold all 25 editions within the first week of opening! Yay!
It’s been an honor to be part of this exhibition. Not only has it been great fun, but it’s for a very worthwhile cause.
Lolcat: Teh Exhibishun is open until Friday the 15th of February, be sure to check it out!