Welcome to my Meet the Maker series where I get a chance to chat with makers who inspire me.
Today I introduce you to Jackie Matsutani of Jackie’s Comfort Cats who creates illustrations and animations (often involving cats) to bring awareness to and cultivate conversations surrounding mental health, particularly depression and anxiety.
What’s your why?
As a suicide survivor and someone who suffers from depressions/anxiety, I want to create art as resources to educate folks about mental health, and pieces that viewers can relate to in order to shed light on this topic that is commonly not talked about.
How did you come up with your name?
My name came after I niched down as a mental health cat artist. I used to be known as WaterMonkeyArt (based on my zodiac sign), which made my page more confusing since you didn’t know to expect mental health related content. The purpose of my art with the cats is to spread awareness on mental health topics and offer support/comfort. Hence, the comfort cats 🙂
Who or what are your biggest artistic influences?
Yu Watase (mangaka, author of “Fushigi Yugi”), RossDraws, LordGris, Wenqing Yan ( yuumei), my kitties
In the Early Days
How and when did you get started in your craft?
I’ve been drawing all my life, though took a long break from it during college and the years after that (even when I was in art school, ironically). It wasn’t until the pandemic hit that I started drawing and posting more regularly. I became more serious about my art and niched down first as the Kimono Kitty artist, then as a mental health/kitty artist after attending Scotty Russell’s summer workshop in June 2020.
I think the kimono kitties was one of the first posts of yours that I saw. I love kimonos and these kimono kitties are so cute!! There’s so much detail here and the colors are great. I love the second one because you share info about the Maneki-neko which is fascinating! I like the way you use pattern and colors here. Your purrtraits are awesome! I love how you combine things about each person into their picture. I’m sure they love receiving these!
Memories Down the Maple Path
This was a personal piece I did in honor of my dad’s birthday in 2020. It was an idea I’d had since about 2013, but never felt confident enough in my artistic abilities to execute it. But I felt a sudden urge to start it in 2020 and was determined to finish it in time for his birthday, which I did 🙂 I want to share more of these memories and personal stories, so I am actually considering starting a series of such pics after finishing my current project!
This was an animation I completed on how depression affects me personally. I started a mini animated series related to mental health topics such as PMDD, depression, and anxiety.
What does a typical creative session look like for you?
When I know what my next piece is, I will begin with some preliminary research (just googling reference images and such haha). I can get easily distracted, so this often leads to a rabbit hole of searching.
If I need a character pose, I’ll either use the 3D character models on Clip Studio Paint or Magic Poser to get reference. Once all my references are set, I’ll begin sketching!
After the sketch is done, it’s time for the lineart, then color, then finishing touches 🙂 Each drawing usually takes about 2 sessions for me to finish.
Do you have a daily practice? What or how do you practice?
I use Notion to keep track of daily tasks and chores, and started getting in the habit of journaling and vision writing! Still not quite doing that daily, but making progress on those for sure! Journaling just helps with getting thoughts on to paper, and acts as a recount of life. Vision writing helps with visualizing what the future looks like, and is basically like writing as though you are already living your future life! It’s pretty neat to look back and see how my vision has evolved and how much more detailed it gets.
What advice would you give your younger self about your creative path?
Your style is unique! You don’t have to change it just because others told you it’s not marketable! What they don’t know is that the love of your style and messages behind your work are immeasurable and will touch more people than you realize.
What kind of artistic challenges have you overcome or are working through now?
Comparison trap, self-love and -acceptance, marketing my work (it still feels icky to me).
What is your method for getting out of a creative rut?
As counterintuitive as it sounds, just taking a break! Rest and recharge the creative battery, and take time to enjoy other things that are not art! After about a day or so of not creating, I’ll typically feel more creative and itching to start drawing again!
This or That
Cats or Dogs? CATS!
Coffee or Tea? Tea
Early Bird or Night Owl? Little of both
Tator Tots or French Fries? Why not both??? (#PotatoesAreAGirlsBestFriend)
Messy or Tidy? Tidy (to an extent haha)
Fast Food or Health Food? Fast Food
Calling or Texting? Texting
Couch Potato or Fitness Fiend? Couch Potato who will be a fitness friend when needed!
Candy Corn: Yes or No? Only in small quantities
Do you have any hidden talents or skills not directly related to your creative career?
I can play piano and am a pretty decent bowler.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
What kind of hobbies or interests do you have or want to spend more time on?
I’m a competitive bowler 🙂 I also enjoy playing video games like Legend of Zelda, Pokemon, and Minecraft.
Please share all the ways people can find and admire your work.
My IG, Tiktok, Kofi, and twitch links can be found on my Milkshake page: https://msha.ke/jackiescomfortcats/
It was awesome getting to know Jackie! Be sure to check out her socials to see more of her amazing work and hang out with her during a livestream on twitch!
If you like this Meet the Maker interview, you can read about LePunktNoir and Artful Musings!