The ancient Egyptians held cats in the highest esteem, and so did the owners of this custom pet portrait. Lauded for its ability to hunt vermin and kill dangerous snakes, the domesticated feline became a symbol of grace and poise in Ancient Egypt.
Our goal with this custom piece was to reflect the grace and poise of the feline. Using the tomb of Tutankhamun for visual inspiration, we wanted to create a painting that felt indebted to the famous Great Sphinx of Giza. We purposefully kept the color palette limited to hues of blue and yellow, both to maintain a focus on our feline subject as well as to pay respect to the restraint and formalism of classical Egyptian art. It’s important to remember that the works of the ancients were never intended to be seen by our eyes; they were designed for the benefit of the divine or the deceased.
Our hope is that this portrait will be discovered, hundreds if not thousands of years from now, and that future archeologists will learn that the 21st century was actually not too different from the times of Ancient Egypt. After all, most of us are still writing on walls and worshipping cats.
Van Gogh is an aptly named cat currently living with our friends at Feline Rescue. His orange color and partly missing ear really helps him sell the name.
We’re huge Game of Thrones fans here at Splendid Beast, and to celebrate the 5th Season returning, we decided to do a some custom paintings of different pets as some of our favorite (and least favorite) characters. Take a look:
1. Ned Stark
5. Jon Snow
6. The Hound
10. George RR Martin (Author)
I’ve always been fascinated by the Bengal Cat, in large part because:
A: They look awesome.
B. They’re hypoallergenic, meaning they are less likely than other cats to produce an allergic reaction.
The allergic reaction most people associate with cats doesn’t come from their hair, as is often assumed, but rather from their dander. Dander is a combination of dried skin and saliva, which when floating around in a living room, can produce the sneezing and watery-eyes we associate with cat allergies.
So why do Bengal cats produce less dander than other breeds? Theories vary, although no concrete scientific studies have ever been conducted (Perhaps this will be Splendid Beast’s next venture). Some believe it is because of the Bengal cat’s short coat, which requires less maintenance than longer-haired felines. Others believe it is because the Bengal sheds less than other cats, which keeps dander from spreading throughout the house. Maybe it has something to do with their wild ancestry – Bengal cats are the result of cross-breeding domestic felines with the Asian Leopard cat, which gives them their trademark spots.
Leonard Nimoy passed away this week at the ripe old age of 83. He was an actor, a musician, a director, and a photographer. But one thing you might not know about Mr. Nimoy is that he was also an avid pet lover.
In fact, Mr. Nimoy’s adoration for pets was so strong that in 1970, he opened his own pet store in the San Fernando Valley, just north of Los Angeles. Nimoy explained his rationale to Michele Jacques in an article called His New World:
He (Nimoy) wanted to stock a pet store with all the kinds of animals available that he often wished he see in other shops he frequented. So now Leonard Nimoy’s Pet Pad stocks chipmunks, monkies, crocodiles, boa constrictors, a South American Otter and, of course, cats and dogs, just to mention a few. But the cats and dogs are not just the ordinary variety we find anywhere. They are all sorts of exotic and rare types. Leonard also has a tortoise which runs free in his backyard, His children love it, and take excellent care of it. Probably better care than they would of any “ordinary” animal.
Wherever you are, Mr. Nimoy: thanks for the inspiration.
I won’t pretend that I’ve “made it” in business; I’m an English Literature major with more knowledge about ergonomics than economics. That being said, it’s precisely that lack of experience that I believe makes my perspective (and advice) valuable. Having started a successful small business (don’t believe me? We were recently featured on TV! The true mark of success in the 21st Century!) from the ground up, I have the following advice to any prospective entrepreneurs:
This is the best advice I can give. In fact, I probably should have buried the lead a bit, instead of starting with number one. I’ll focus on business, but this same rule applies whether you have a dream, a passion, or simply a past-time. There’s simply no way around it: you have to walk the walk. Or, as Shakespeare said in Richard III (see? English Lit background):
Talkers are no good doers: be assured
We come to use our hands and not our tongues.
We started Splendid Beast with $700. Obviously, there’s a lot more that went into it (which I’ll detail below) but I mention money strictly to point out that, in this day and age, the amount of money you have is not nearly as important as your drive. Actions speak louder than words. The tools of the professionals have been democratized, and the early 21st century will be defined by those who seize those tools and use them. In essence, those who do it. So just do it. After all, talkers are no good doers.
We live in a gilded age. Most people are still unaware of, or lack the necessary tech-literacy to utilize, the vast amount of free programs and software that exists. Think of any tool you need to create a start-up, and inevitably a freeware alternative will spring to mind. Above all else, I’d recommend becoming acquainted with a graphics editor. My personal favorite is GIMP, which is essentially a freeware version of Photoshop. Learning how to use a graphics editor allows you to create content, instead of relying on (and paying) other people to provide the content for you.
Other free resources I use:
The way your website looks matters, especially if you’re trying to sell online. Many options exist (Etsy, Society 6) for selling products without actually developing a site. But, if you have some rudimentary design skills (See #2), why not design a site for yourself?
Which of these sites are you more likely to trust your credit card data with?
If you’re anything like me, you chose Option A. Why? Option A is clean, it’s simple, and it’s easy to navigate. It has a uniform font and color scheme. Compare this to Option B, which is a mess of colors, fonts, and backgrounds. It’s chaotic, and frankly, it just *looks* shady.
That’s right – if your site looks shady, nobody is going to trust you with their money.
In fact, in e-commerce, how your website looks is the most important part of your business. If it doesn’t look legitimate, people aren’t going to give you their hard-earned money. Full stop.
Thankfully, you don’t need to know how to write code to design a website. Many drag-and-drop website builder options exist. That being said, a lot of these sites look upsettingly generic. Imagine opening a website and seeing an image like this:
Pretty creepy, right? Thankfully, you know how to create content for free (#2), and you can modify the existing templates that these drag-and-drop website builders offer. This allows you to create something that looks unique, without learning HTML 5.
For Splendid Beast, we use originally used modified theme provided by Wix. I have a lot of issues with Wix, but one of the nice things is they allow you to build out your website for free. You can get all the features in place before you spend a dime to launch. This gives you lots of time to practice with the tools, and it will save you thousands of dollars that you’d otherwise give someone else to build your site.
Personally, I think most web advertisement is a racket. Anyone with some time and ingenuity can come up with better strategies than the targeted keyword and pay-per-click solutions that internet advertisers charge to drive traffic. With Splendid Beast, we decided to focus on particular groups of people we thought would enjoy our product. We use sites like Reddit to gauge markets and see what kind of content people are most interested in. We use word-of-mouth from Facebook posts to gain new followers. We contact blogs, both big and small, and offer samples of our product. Sometimes, it means we get featured on a Buzzfeed list. The fact is, we drop our line in the water every day, and sometimes we catch a big fish, sometimes it’s just a few nibbles. You can throw money at the issue of advertising (and there are plenty of people willing to take it), but if you believe in what you’re selling and know even a little bit about how the internet works, doing it yourself can be a great solution to keep costs down and test your product.
That’s it for now. Thanks for reading, and be sure to share any resources you use. We’re all in this together.