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Why do so many artists work under a pseudonym? Cats&Dotz let us peek under the cloak of mystery

21. 06. 2024

The world knows Ioana Horvat as a successful artist under the pseudonym Cats&Dotz. How did she get to this point? She described her journey from a small Romanian village, through working in a corporation in the following interview.

Can you start off by introducing yourself and telling us a little bit about yourself? Give us a glimpse of who is hiding behind the pseudonym Cats&Dotz.

My name is Ioana Horvat and I live in Bucharest. I grew up in a small village in Romania and had a very happy childhood in the countryside, which fostered my creativity and free-spirited, bohemian nature. I’ve loved creating since I was very young, with a particular passion for painting and clothes design. I had a corporate career until a couple of years ago when I realized I didn’t quite fit in. I decided to quit and return to my true love – art. Now, I have a small workshop where I design bohemian dresses, and I’ve started painting again, both traditionally and digitally.

I’m inspired by nature, people, vivid colors, and both simplicity and intricate patterns. I cannot stick to one style, so I love to experiment with all kinds of art styles and techniques, going from monochromatic to extremely colorful, from minimalistic to intricate designs, from portraits to abstract landscapes, and more.

I am a self-taught artist. Creating brings me immense joy – I get so absorbed in my work that I sometimes forget to eat and drink.

What is it like to work under a pseudonym? Do you think it gives you more freedom to create?

Working under a pseudonym is incredibly liberating. I chose this name for its playful nature and the contrast it embodies, which perfectly aligns with my work which is rich in contrasts, colors, and a sense of playfulness. It also gives me the freedom to explore various styles and take creative risks, essential for an introvert like me.

Going back to the very beginning, what has shaped your artistic style? Were you inclined towards art as a child?

My artistic style has been shaped by a blend of personal experiences, diverse influences, and a constant desire to experiment. A major influence was my mother, who introduced me to drawing and painting. Initially, I was captivated by realistic portraits, but over time, I transitioned to more abstract interpretations. This shift sparked my curiosity to explore other styles. Exposure to various art movements and techniques has played a significant role, allowing me to blend different styles into my own expression.

Who are some of your biggest creative influences?

I am inspired by both individual artists and broader art movements. Gustav Klimt captivates me with his intricate patterns and profound symbolism. I love Henri Matisse’s bold use of color and fluid lines, as well as his ability to transform simple shapes and materials into works of art. The vibrant folk art of the Mexican/Otomi culture, with its explosion of colors, profoundly impacts my work. Frida Kahlo, both as an artist and a strong personality, leaves a lasting impression on me.

Another influence comes from the clean lines, organic shapes, and simplicity of the Bauhaus aesthetics with their timeless elegance. I also resonate with the expressivity and powerful messages found in collages and graffiti street art, as well as the striking contrast and symbolism found in tribal artworks. Additionally, the originality and uninhibited creativity in my child’s drawings amaze and inspire me daily.

Every day I am inspired by the originality and boundless creativity in my child’s drawings.

I also take great delight in encapsulating moments of nostalgia and joy, drawn from memorable movie scenes or musical experiences, and transforming them into illustrations. These artworks serve as evocative snapshots, preserving the essence of cherished memories for others to relish and enjoy.

In my art, I blend elements from these diverse sources, along with insights from my everyday experiences, to create a tapestry of influences that I carry with me at all times. I strive to preserve their essence and share their beauty with the world. My intention is to infuse positivity, joy, and happiness into my work, aiming to uplift and inspire anyone who encounters it.

Could you discuss your creative process from inception through to the final design? What is your record for time spent on one design?

My creative process usually starts with a spark of inspiration, which can come from anything – nature, a dream, or even a random thought. I begin by sketching out rough ideas and then move on to more detailed drawings. Some pieces come together in a day, while others can take weeks or months. Often, I start a piece and then set it aside, returning to it months later with fresh eyes and new inspiration. Sometimes, I begin with one idea, but as I work, the piece evolves as if transforming into something entirely different. It’s as if the artwork is alive, guiding me to its final form. Therefore, the time I spend on each design varies greatly, reflecting the dynamic and evolving nature of my artistic journey.

Do you have any rituals or habits that help you in your creative work?

Yes, I do! I like to start my day with a cup of tea or coffee and some quiet time to gather my thoughts. I also find that listening to music or ambient sounds helps me get into the creative zone. Sometimes I like to spend a few minutes sketching freely without any specific goal in mind. This practice helps loosen up my creativity and often sparks new ideas.

Can you pick one design of yours that is your favorite? Why did you choose this particular design? Do you have a story from when you were making it?

I can’t choose one particular favorite design, as my preferences change from day to day and mood to mood. The same goes for styles. I might create in one style for a while, then embrace another, only to return to the original style later. This constant evolution keeps my work dynamic and exciting, allowing me to explore different facets of my creativity.

What is a career dream you want to achieve?

My dream is to be able to create freely, and that’s the only thing that truly interests me when it comes to a career. I aspire to achieve financial freedom through my art, allowing me to continuously create new works without constraints. This would enable me to fully dedicate myself to my passion and explore my artistic potential to the fullest.

What’s the future looking like for you? Any big projects coming up?

I don’t have a particular big project right now, but I’m slowly working on achieving my dream. The future is always full of exciting possibilities, with many promising opportunities on the horizon, if we allow ourselves to see them. So, I’m looking forward to what comes next 😊

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Social media manager, photographer and creative head. My superpower is that I can retell all the lines from Harry Potter.

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