See the Designs!
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Designer and cat lover Michelle Li Bothe has the imagination of a child. Her illustrations look like they belong in a story book. They often depict luscious green forests, friendly woodland creatures and mysterious monsters and, like all good story books, her work leaves one curious. Where is this magical place, what book is that monster reading... and who exactly is Little Clyde?? Michelle took some time out of her holiday in Hawaii to catch up with caseable and answer our questions.
Interview with Little Clyde
What three words best describe your work??
Contemplative, gentle, humorous
Who is "Little Clyde"?
Little Clyde was the first cat I had as an adult. I raised him from kitten-hood to old cat-hood. He was a world traveler, and lived in San Francisco, New York, LA, and finally Berlin.
Have you always "doodled"?
Absolutely! My parents both worked at a university when I was little, and they would bring stacks and stacks of scratch paper home from the office. I would spend hours drawing stories and doodling. And when I got older, I always doodled when I was on the phone, or doing my homework, or taking notes in class. A lot of times there were more doodles on the page than actual notes.
Where do these ideas come from, and what keeps your imagination alive?
They more or less grow organically on the page. Doodling is a type of free association for me and sometimes cool little characters or ideas just emerge. Also, I have a 5 year old daughter with a wonderful imagination who often inspires me. And obviously, I take a lot from the world around me. As a kid, I could lose myself in different landscapes - I loved forests and castles, lakes and oceans, mountains and rolling hills and was constantly imagining characters weaving their way through them. I guess that’s never quite disappeared and it comes out in my work. Many of my pieces start out as a setting, and then a creature or a character finds it's way in.
Your illustrations often depict a fantasy world. Where is this wonderful place? And how do we get there?
I think there must be a little secret door (or maybe a wardrobe) that takes you there...
We noticed a literary theme in some of your designs. What's your favorite story book and why?
Ooh, that’s a tough one. I’ve always loved to read! When I was younger, I was obsessed with fantasy books. The Lord of the Rings left a huge impression on me when I was a pre-teen. Going back even further, the art and story of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs has always been one of my favorites. It was so surreal, and I loved the detailed illustrations.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Before I realized how much science it would entail, I wanted to be a marine biologist. I thought it meant swimming around with dolphins all day. Throughout high school and college, I wanted to be a writer. I guess that’s another reason you see that literary/narrative thread in a lot of my work - I’m still writing, just with images now.
What does that future hold for Little Clyde?
Well, I’m at a point where my income is about 50% illustration and 50% graphic design work. I would love to tip the scales even more towards the illustration side and find a little more discipline in creating new work. I still feel like I’m learning and growing with every design, and I hope that never stops.