It’s no secret that cats are my patronus and anything cat-like tends to draw my undivided attention. Fuzzballs are no different. I first bumped into their stand at Comic Con last year and met creator Marc—a lovely individual with a great fluffy creature brand. Ranging from cats to tigers and bunnies, it’s hard to resist the allure of his art.
Eager to know more about his work and to share his talent with others, I’ve a sweet and short interview to give you. Let’s get to it!
How did the idea of fuzzballs start and then grow?
Fuzzballs wasn’t really anything when it first started. I’d always had this idea for a round tiger character in my head, something simple and easy to draw, but able to display a lot of character from little changes to his face. It took me years to actually get around to drawing it, but instead of the tiger, I actually started with a bunny as I owned a couple at the time. I created a little bouncing bunny gif that you can see here. Of course, I needed a name for my Tumblr, which at the time was the best place to share simple animations. Being fuzzy and round, the name kind of wrote itself.
I created a lot of different poses to get a feel for how the character would be viewed from different angles, and with that, the bunny quickly morphed into the tiger I had always envisions. From that very quickly came the cat and a whole host of other animals, most that haven’t been seen yet. I’m talking penguins to lions, but the first three not only captured my imagination but everyone else’s.
The first gif got a few Likes, so I made another. That got more Likes and it snowballed from there, really. I never had any grand plans from that initial post. I’d have kept adding content ’til I got bored if no one else had liked it, but thankfully thousands of people loved it and that’s what keeps it growing each and every day. Since then, it’s grown into this huge thing with shirts, necklaces and plushies, which people buy either through the website or at shows we attend, and then post pictures of them with their fuzzball things! I never set out to make Fuzzballs a brand, it was just something fun to do when I was bored and had spare time, but now it has become one and is fast becoming a much bigger thing than I could have ever imagined in my wildest dreams.
How did it feel when you decided to create t-shirts and held the first keyring in your hand?
The shirts again came about organically. Fans had asked for some of the designs on shirts. Having experience making shirts in the past meant this was an easy thing for me to do. The main problem was how to get shirts into more peoples’ hands and promote Fuzzballs. If people want shirts, you need to be able to sell enough to be able to make them in the first place. It had become this popular thing on Tumblr, but outside of that I don’t think anyone had seen it. It’s not something you can easily market, it’s not like a new kind of gadget, it’s fun, cute drawings that relate to certain types of people. That’s why we decided to attend MCM Comic Con in 2015 to see it that was the type of place we could grow our audience, and we certainly did!
Getting to MCM was interesting as turning up with a few shirts wouldn’t have been enough for a new brand, so we needed some other things to go with it, such as the keyrings. I’d never even thought about doing keyrings before attending, but the size and price point made sense to me, so after a lot of research we got some made and they look awesome! We also went with prints, necklaces and badges, but since then have grown to over 120 different products in loads of different product ranges, including greeting cards and tote bags with more to be announced later this year!
I think that was one of the most interesting things though. Anyone can make a t-shirt what with all the custom t-shirt sites and shops out there. You can even print your own out at home and iron on the designs, but keyrings are not something just anyone can make just yet, so seeing something that is a bit more difficult to do with my characters on it was pure joy. Now we are working with products that, even a year ago, I hadn’t even thought about making.
Why do you love going to conventions? What are a few of your memorable convention experiences?
Let’s get this bit out of the way first. Conventions are hard work, very hard. From lugging boxes around, to being up at 1AM sorting out more stock, they are very tough and take a lot of effort. But that makes the hours on the show floor even more special. The kids you see 50 foot away from you, who see your stand, a huge smile quickly flash across their face and then run at you to take in all the cuteness. The couples that buy each other Fuzzballs gifts because they see something in the characters that relates to them. The fans that come back time and time again to add to their collection, or at the very least just want to say hi to show their support in what you do. That is amazing.
The crowds we have in front of our stand, all wanting to get a look at what we have to offer, you can’t buy that feeling: seeing and hearing people love something you do. Not many shops get crowds in front of their products like we do!
We’ve had a lot of memorable convention experiences from that very first sale, to someone who had never seen us before, to the cosplayers who spend so many hours, days and weeks creating their costume coming by and answering your questions about how they made it and why they do it.
One of the most memorable has to be Jesse McClure from Storage Hunters coming by our stand at one of the shows wearing one of our shirts. It’s not often celebs go across the show floor, they’re busy people and in a place where thousands of people will recognise them instantly. We’d met at London MCM and had a great chat, and I gave Jesse one of our shirts as a thanks for taking the time to come over and say hello to us. That meant a lot to us for him to take time out of his busy day to come and say hello. But at our next MCM show, he came by the Saturday morning unannounced wearing the shirt we’d given him and had a load of photos with us and fans in front of the stand. That was special, as he’d not only yet again taken the time to see us but thought about us enough to wear the shirt that day before he came by. Something I can’t thank him for enough and what a genuine nice guy he is! You can see him on the fan photos page on our website.
Finally, why do cats and tigers and bunnies seem to have a special place in your heart? 😀
Cats because who doesn’t love cats? Even dog owners can’t say n to a meowing cat wanting some food and fusses. I have my own little cat who provides a lot of inspiration for some of the things you see at Fuzzballs. She has so much love to give but requires even more love and attention in return. She knows when she’s being naughty or how to trick people into giving her more food. Once a cat gets to know you, their real personality opens up.
Tigers are animals I’ve always adore and, at the end of the day, they’re just big cats with bigger teeth and claws, but they know how to be soppy and affectionate too. The bright orange and black colours are so striking, too.
Bunnies, again, owning them they have their own unique personality that no other creature has. They’re very affectionate, very clever and mischievous. Thought they’ll quickly let you know when you’ve upset them.
Thank you so much, Marc, for taking the time to give my questions such thoughtful answers. It was great to learn more about Fuzzballs. I’ll be adding more to my own collection next MCM Comic Con, I hope!