By now, Seattle Sounders fans should probably be familiar with the work of MLS Watercolorist. Their work has been featured on a matchday poster, as a monthly comic in the team’s program, and we use their artwork here on a weekly basis. Despite all that attention, their biggest success may be #CatScarf.
What started as a Twitter joke turned into an organic campaign — #JusticeForCatScarf — and is now a real thing. So real, in fact, that they’ve now nearly sold out of the 400-scarf order. The idea was so popular that the first 30 scarves were only made available to people who could solve an online jigsaw puzzle and those sold out almost immediately.
I caught up with MLS Watercolorist recently to find out more.
Jeremiah Oshan: Tell us about the origin of cat scarf. Was it originally conceived as a season-ticket scarf?
MLS Watercolorist: Nope, it was a sketch I did for Twitter and ended up tagging the Alliance Council in jest about it. Their season ticket contest for 2017 had already closed and I just wanted to post something silly online. I really didn’t think anything would come of it.
JO: When Sounder at Heart announced the 2018 finalists, there was a rather profound outpouring of support for Cat Scarf. Do you know how close it came to being included?
MW: I’m not sure. But I know there was a ton of support for it, which makes me feel great. It was just some fun on the internet, I thought. But people really seemed to like it and were super encouraging about it, saying they wanted a real one. So, for the 2018 contest, I was prepared and submitted it on time, within all the guidelines, etc. It turned into kind of a campaign, and my friends and fans all really got behind it. It was exciting!
Sadly, it didn’t make the final five so it didn’t get voted on. Someone in the SAH comments even started the hashtag #justiceforcatscarf, and then we had a movement on our hands.
JO: It should be noted that our poll suggested it should have made the final five.
JO: Is that when you knew that you just had to make a real one?
MW: That’s when I had a feeling that it could be a possibility. Every time I posted images with cat scarves in them people would ask when they could order one. A superfan even had a mockup made! It was all unreal. But I wanted the real-life one to be so much better in person than just a printout of the quick drawing that went up on Twitter. My friend Bread and I brainstormed cat names. I put some more time and detail into the design. At that point I was still thinking I’d maybe sell 50 or so.
JO: Let’s back up a little. What was the original inspiration for Cat Scarf?
MW: I like cats. And soccer. And drawing pictures on the internet.
JO: Fair! So, you decided to make the scarf assuming it was going to be very niche. But how many have you already sold?
MW: Almost 400! My mind is blown.
JO: And a portion of sales is going to the Seattle Humane Society?
MW: Yes, I’ve made two donations so far (one monetary and one by purchasing items from their Amazon wishlist) and will make one more once the rest of the scarves sell out, which won’t be long. For me it’s been just another way to connect with people who like the same things as I do and to do a little bit of good in the process.
JO: What is it about this scarf that has people so in love with it? Have you received much feedback?
MW: I think there is a special fun thing with cats and the internet, and this is an item that jumbled those things with a passion for the Sounders and it just struck a chord. And I find people appreciate something that is special, different, and not that serious. I sure do.
JO: Do you have a favorite name from the scarf? I have to admit I think I’m partial to ‘Will Purruin’.
MW: Well, Will Purruin is pretty great, especially since right around the release of the scarf he did that meowing thing on a mic-ed up vid. I still can’t believe that was real. I also enjoy Gustav Svencat because it makes no sense.
This is it! Less than one day left to secure yourself a Cat Scarf as pre-orders will close tomorrow at noon PT. Will Purr-uin appreciates the love. #justiceforcatscarfhttps://t.co/De0NHEcIR4 pic.twitter.com/7OvUtOr7Fp— MLS Watercolorist (@MLSwatercolors) February 27, 2019
JO: To be clear, Will Bruin was not a paid actor?
MW: Not that I know of, lol. Although someone apparently gave him a Cat Scarf (editor’s note: confirmed).
JO: Where does this rank in terms of “cool things to have happened to MLS Watercolorist”?
MW: This is probably number 2 in the ranking. You know what number one is.
Living. My. Best. Life.
JO: What’s next for MLS Watercolorist? Should we expect a version 2.0?
MW: Maybe a dog scarf. Or perhaps a sloth scarf?? Who knows.