The origin of Fortune Cat

September 13, 2021

The idea of Fortune Cat developed from a photo that I had taken of our little sphinx cat, Poppy. In the photo, she has this determined stare that’s characterized by a sense of deep understanding or ancient wisdom. We have also been collecting fortunes from fortune cookies for years. I’ve always been somewhat fascinated by the ubiquitous nature of the fortune cookie and it’s sayings and odd literal translations of the fortunes and wanted to incorporate them into art at some point. I had even done an iconic painting of a fortune cookie back in the mid 2000’s. Fortune Cat then became a combination of these two elements. I had already been experimenting with combinations of print techniques and collage so I wanted to use that medium to bring it all together. I wanted to create a logo type of image that could be repeated not mechanically, but manually so each print would have a unique quality. To achieve this, I made a linocut block version of the photo as well as a translation of “Fortune Cat” into traditional Chinese characters.

The basis for the first series of prints are a five by seven inch format on vintage book pages from the index of a book of maps, with random text. I then added some color tones with acrylic paint using a gel plate transfer method.

I was concerned that the original fortunes, on the little strip of paper, wouldn’t read well so I scanned multiple rows and printed them at a larger scale to fit the width of the paper, although future pieces will most likely incorporate the original fortune papers. While scanning the fortunes, I noticed the series of lucky numbers printed on the backs and decided to bring those in as well, but not as prominent as the sayings. The fortunes and lucky numbers are collaged onto the book page followed by hand printed characters and cat.

The Fortune Cat has now become my counterpoint to the the mass produced, home decor, positive affirmation signs of “live, laugh, love.” The wisdom of the fortune cookie presented by Fortune Cat are truly words to live by.

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