FFGW: Tell me about your background, did you have formal art training?
CM: I did! I always had an interest in drawing, but I did not start really learning to draw until sixth grade, spurred on by a fellow student who looked over my art and casually said “Your horse’s legs are backwards.” I had no idea what she meant, and I went and found a photograph of a horse to look at. It was a real turning point for me, and I began really learning to draw by looking at things.
FFGW: Do you do commercial art professionally?
CM: I don’t. I love to draw, and I think doing it as a career would take away my love for it. I do occasional freelance work, so I suppose that makes me an amateur. I have done web logos, pages for webcomics, illustrations, and portrait commissions.
FFGW: Have you drawn since you were a child (did they look at your coloring books and say you should be an artist!) Did you want to be an artist when you grew up?
CM: No, I wanted to be either Batman or a vet when I grew up. The first praise I ever remember getting for my art as a young child was from (of course) my mom. It came out of my first critique. I was four, and I brought her a picture of a cat I had drawn. She asked me if I could think of a way to make the cat look fuzzy, so I took it back and added a wobbly zig-zag line all around the perimeter of the cat’s body. That drawing is taped in my baby book to this day.
FFGW: Had you drawn cats before doing the art for FFGW?
CM: Yes, but not a great many. My primary subjects have always been animals and people though.
FFGW: Your cats look so distinctive, not like typical ones seen often in other drawings – I think that if I saw one away from FFGW, I would say to myself “that looks like a Cindy Mirabile cat!” – how did this style (the shape of the head, how they’re almost smiling) come about?
CM: I’m an illustrator at heart. If my picture does not contain any narrative, I lose interest in it quickly. With the cats for the FFGW nursery, I wanted them to look like individuals with a lot of love they were just waiting to share with whoever adopted them. Cats are appealing, wonderful characters and I wanted to make sure that they came across that way for the fundraiser. I’m lucky in that the shape of many cats’ faces is easily adaptable into a smile because of the roundness of their snout.
FFGW: Is there a particular subject that you most like to draw?
CM: In brief, people and animals. In slightly less brief, I love story and I try to draw characters and narratives using people and animals as subjects. I am very fond of fantasy and also lovable monsters. Lovable monsters have a particular appeal because I like to think that people will look past a shaggy, toothy exterior to find the warm-heart underneath. It’s a universal idea that holds a lot of meaning for me.
FFGW: What materials do you use to produce your drawings – what sort of papers, pens/brushes/ink etc.? Is it a multistep process, from a raw sketch to final, using different tools?
CM: I am an eclectic artist and I use a very wide variety of tools, but the majority of my work on paper is done on white cardstock. I start with a rough sketch using 2H lead in a mechanical pencil. Then I outline in ink, most commonly technical pens with an ink that will withstand the alcohol I the markers I use. Finally, I color with Copic markers. They’re alcohol-based markers that lay down color in semi-transparent layers, so they can be used almost like watercolor.
FFGW: What projects are you working on for FFGW now?
CM: I just finished the spring backdrop for the kitten nursery. A petal-pink sky full of fluffy white clouds behind a white garden fence. The carpet is the color of new grass, accentuated by a rug that suggests a lily pond. We wanted the Spring Nursery to be visually distinct because it’s a whole new crop of kittens that need care!
FFGW: How did you come to draw for FFGW?
CM: My two wonderful kitties, Fiona and Nigel, were adopted through FFGW in 2005. Doing something to help animals has always one of my goals, and even when I was donating money to FFGW, I never felt like I was giving enough. Then, I found myself in a situation where I could not easily donate money each year. At about that same time, the call for volunteers came in my e-mail. I found a new way to give and to help more kitties find homes.
FFGW: We certainly appreciate your wonderful talent, and hope everyone will go check out the new backdrop in the nursery!Visit FFGW's Virtual Shower to help save kittens and Moms! Your donation helps save cats in the real world.You can sponsor a kitten, give a shower gift that will appear in our virtual nursery, send a toy for the virtual kittens to play with, or save a Mom!