An art practice by Chicago-based artist, Hannah Sellers
Catdroool originated in quarantine with a newfound appreciation for introspection and play. "As a designer, creating Catdroool allowed me to let go of some of my rigid rules and beliefs about design and aesthetic and create purely for joy," says creator Hannah Sellers.
Catdroool started as a practice of block printing and hand-dyed shirts. All shirts are pre-loved or upcycled, sourced from Goodfair, LA Apparel (Scatterboxes), and local thrift stores. Proceeds benefit a variety of organizations including the Queer Dollar Project and The Loveland Foundation. Sellers shared, "most of my work is inspired by trauma, healing, and self-compassion."
And where did the name come from? "After my cat," Sellers said, "Special Agent Dale Cooper, who drools when he is happy and at peace."
Below, see Catdroool work and an interview with Hannah Sellers conducted by Meesh Strauss.
(MS) Did you draw a lot as a child? If so, what did you draw a lot of?
(HS) I grew up in a creative household, since my mom was always creating– whether it was our halloween costumes, ceramics, drawings, or paintings. I definitely drew, and created a lot as a kid because of her. I remember realizing one day that not everyone grows up in a house like that when as an adult I told some friends that when I was a child my mom hosted maybe 4 neighborhood kids in our basement for a weekend long summer art camp. I thought that was normal growing up but not every mom does that.
What arts outside of illustration do you love?
I love photography– especially film. Photography is what led me to a career in design, which led me to an art practice. I still collect a lot of different film cameras and mostly capture moments for fun these days. Film has such an immense depth and mystery to it that no digital photo could ever recreate.
How did you get into block printing? What about it has been challenging?
I got into block printing because I wanted to make prints, and really– I wanted to learn to screen print, but there just isn't enough room in a 1BR apartment with 2 cats and a partner to make that happen. So I found block printing as an amazing creative outlet to make prints and enjoy working with my hands again. Something challenging is that it's tricky to get consistent results, but I guess that's also the beauty of it. I starting screen printing with wonderful people at Chicago Printmakers Collaborative and hope to continue to use their space to create!
The catdroool store only started in late 2020 but is already kicking off greatly, what influenced you to begin selling? Where do you see the shop going? Any big plans on the horizon?
I began selling because I wanted to share my work with people. The goal was never to make a lot of money and still isn't. I also saw it as an opportunity to make shirts that were pre-owned. I suppose I could send my design to a local print shop and have a bunch screen printed, but I'd rather scour the aisles of a thrift store and find some cool pre-owned garments and give them a new life.
I'd love to keep building my art practice. I see a lot more block printing, screen printing, and riso printing in my future. I just riso printed a zine/art book and that should be available for purchase very soon!
We noticed your shop's proceeds go to the Loveland Foundation, can you tell us more about them and why you chose to donate the proceeds there?
Since the beginning, a portion of my proceeds have always been donated. I chose to do this because a lot of people are really struggling right now, and I feel so lucky and privileged to be able to have a steady income from my full time job. I recently chose to donate to the Loveland Foundation because they provide funds for therapy for Black women and girls. Therapy has been an incredible and integral part of my adult life, and it's not fair that it's so expensive and inaccessible. I want to pay it forward so that other people can access therapy and get the help they need. Other organizations I've donated to include: Queer Dollar Project, Brave Space Alliance, and Assata's Daughters.
There are a lot of themes of introspection, self-care, and hope in your work. How did these themes come to be? Do you find that the art helps you achieve these mindsets?
The inspiration for my work stems from my own experiences with trauma, healing, and growth. Making my art is truly a therapeutic process for me, and I hope that others can identify with it, and find comfort in that vulnerability. I want to portray hope and growth, but not neglect to depict pain, sorrow, and grief, since grief is a universal experience and not everything is always rainbows and unicorns. Talking about it and expressing that through art helps me move through those emotions and give them the space they need to take up.