Art to Outfit } Cat from Midwest Mayhem


above drawing by me

For this Art to Outfit I'm featuring fellow Detroiter Cat from Midwest Mayhem!! She's become a great friend and I'm so excited to show you guys her art and film stills!!

What is your pen name? 
My pen name is Cat Bird.  Although it's actually my maiden name, but I decided to keep it as a pen name.  It was too perfect to just get rid of once I got married.  My whole time in college I was known as "CatBird" as if it was one word.  Now I'm just Cat, but at heart I'm still CatBird.

When did you start putting a pencil to paper to create silly images?
I've been drawing ever since I was a kid.  My parents have always been very supportive of my talent.  I would draw pictures of my favorite Disney characters and they'd send them to Walt Disney Studios for me.  I have a letter from the studio saying that I'm talented and to keep on drawing.  Haha, I'm sure the receptionist or whoever wrote the letter just thought it was cute, but when I was a kid I thought it was so cool that they wrote me back!  I'm pretty sure that I thought the letter had come from Walt Disney himself.

Did a fairy godmother give you all your talent, or did you find a magical place that sharpened your mind?

I went to art school at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (it's the one that's connected to the art museum).  My husband and I always joke that we went to "color school".  (He went to Columbia College just down the street from where I went.)  I started out as a painter, until I discovered film.  I continued taking some painting classes, but my main focus shifted over to filmmaking.  I've made about 8 short films and numerous silly videos.  

Which artist (from anytime) do you think is dreamy?
Hmmm...dreamy...I'm going to have to go with Andre Breton, founder of surrealism and author of my favorite book, Nadja.  Yeah.  He's pretty dreamy.

What period of art would you set your time machine to?

Dada and Surrealist movements of the 1920's.  I love that they both really stretched the limits of what defined art up until that point.  When I was in Zurich I went to the cabaret voltaire where most of the dada artists would meet up...I kind of felt like I was going through an art time machine when I was there...or at least I kind of hoped I was...  

What artist would you go camping with and why?

I'm going to do a cop-out and say my husband.  He's a brilliant writer and a great painter/illustrator.  We've never been camping together because I have a back injury so I have I have to be careful with certain activities.  I'm getting stronger though, so hopefully within the next few years we'll be able to embark on a rustic camping trip with our tents set up under the stars.  How romantic. 

How does your art affect your clothes, and visa-versa?

I did make a skirt out of paper clips when I was in school.  I've always loved Cat Chow's work, so the idea was inspired by her pieces.  Unfortunately the skirt was very difficult to walk in, but I did have a friend who seriously wanted to wear it out and about.  (Once I hung it up in my closet though it got all tangled and was ruined.)  In general I'm really in love with 60's clothing and I love the groovy vibe of op-art dresses.  I also get inspired by different color palettes.  I use to spend my lunch period in the art museum every day, so I spent a lot of time with my favorite pieces.  I don't think it was so much on purpose that I'd match a color scheme to a work of art as the idea of the piece was still lingering in my head the next day.  Now that I'm running my own fashion blog though, I find that I'm more likely to directly incorporate my inspiration into my outfits.  

Do you plan on wearing a beret daily and becoming a professional artist?

Haha, I do wear berets, but not daily.  So I guess I'm not quite fitting the stereotype 100% of the time.  My husband and I are working on starting our own film company called, Let's Make Films.  We plan to start out with making wedding videos and using the money we make to fund our own (and other's) experimental/indie projects.  I've also continued drawing and painting.  At this point I'm not sure where I want to go with that.  I do want to start marketing myself as a freelance artist, but I really need to get my s*** together first.  

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three pieces of yours would you take with you to decorate your mud hut?

(*The real #1 piece that I would have up in my hut would be a drawing that I did of Jon when we were on our honeymoon in Greece.  However, that sketch book is no where to be found, so I can't use that one.)

1) The Void, 2003, acrylic on canvas - This painting stirs up a lot of emotion when I look back on it.  I drew inspiration from elements from my past (good and bad). However, it's not just about looking back.  It's just as much about looking forward, even if the future seems uncertain. 

2) The Queen, 2003, acrylic on canvas -   I'd need something up in my mud hut that would make me laugh, right?  I did a series of paintings where I painted images from my dreams.  This painting is from when I dreamt that I was the queen of England.  It was a pretty sweet dream.

3) Kara, 2002 - oil pastel - I'd need some sort of pet with me, even if she's just a picture.  This is a drawing of one of my cats from when I was a child.  I've always loved the boldness, heavy lines and contrasting colors of this drawing. 

As an artist, do you get away with crazy fashion like wearing a swan dress?

I was an early bloomer when it came to weird outfits.  I was the girl with purple hair and combat boots in middle school.  However, when I reached my first year of art school I started stretching the boundaries of what was creatively acceptable.  The thing no one will ever let me live down is when I started trying to pass off garbage bags as skirts.  I shaped them to look like a skirt, so there was a sculptural element to it, but even one thought it was a good idea.  For awhile I had a kid's batman shirt that I would wear with the cape attached the back.  Everyone thought that was awesome though.  I always loved walking down the streets of the loop in Chicago in the morning on my way to class because there was such an extreme mix of people.  You could always tell just by looking at someone whether of not they went to the Art Institute.  I loved watching the eccentrics, goths, hippies, and artists walking the streets with the black and grey suits.  It was just so normal there, no one ever looked twice if you were wearing lingerie over your jeans and carrying a huge canvas down the street.  There was a certain harmony to it.  I think in general though, regardless of where you live if you're dressed differently than the status quo, once someone finds out you're an artist it's all of the sudden okay.  If you weren't an artist though, you'd just be considered weird. 


I don't have an art page up yet, although I've been thinking that I should really get started with one.  I've never been good with portfolio stuff and documenting my art.  I've included some pictures of my artwork and some stills from my films though.  The films that I consider my 'art' I haven't put on my computer for fear of copyright issues.  However, you can use my youtube page as my art link:


Make sure to check out her blog Midwest Mayhem!! And I have another Art to Outfit coming soon!



.Alyspank | December 16, 2010 at 12:58 PM

Such an excellent feature!!! I love reading about artists- even more so, I love reading about those involved with film!


Meg! | December 16, 2010 at 4:56 PM

Aahhh I was wondering when you'd do another of these! I LOVE your drawing of Cat, how amazing. And her art is so incredible and rich and vivid, I had no idea. Awesome post, yay!

Midwest Mayhem | December 16, 2010 at 6:55 PM

Yay, I'm so happy to see my artwork featured! I really love the drawing you did of me!