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In the household of interdisciplinary artist and designer Zoe Schlacter, the endless war between cat and dog lovers has ceased — Schlacter lives happily with both. The full house is only fitting for the more-is-more designer whose maximalist, eccentric creations — inspired by everything from children’s art to Bauhaus to queer craft traditions — have garnered them solo exhibitions, a clothing collaboration with Zoomer favorite fashion brand Tyler McGillivary, a HOMOCO x Ace Hotel collection and installation, and a booming textile and home goods line.
Moving in with their partner, artist and writer Buzz Slutzky, required a peaceful union between Schlacter’s cat Cowboy and Slutzky’s dog Alfie. While the rest of the world was getting used to life in a pandemic, the two pets were adjusting to their own “new normal.” Below, we talk to Schlacter about how Cowboy and Alfie cohabitate and how the pets fit into their art practice, along with the possibility of some Schlacter-designed dog products in the future.
Do Cowboy and Alfie get along?
Yes! They were a little suspicious of one another at first, but after several months they have accepted one another as family and even occasionally snuggle. They will spoon or do a butt-to-butt snuggle.
Alfie was your partner’s dog before you moved in together. What was it like when you introduced them to each other?
My partner Buzz Slutzky already had Alfie, and I already had Cowboy. We met right before lockdown and decided to quarantine together after three weeks of dating. Before we made the choice to co-quarantine, we scheduled a date for the sole purpose of introducing Alfie and Cowboy, to make sure everyone was okay with the plan.
Do either of them accompany you in the studio?
Alfie comes with me to the studio at least one day a week. He’s very attached to Buzz, so he was hesitant at first, but now he gets excited when I present him with his travel tote bag. I say “go inside” and he hops right in.
I know you’re a huge maximalism lover and I love how you’ve photographed a lot of your products with dogs. How do you think pets fit into a maximalist lifestyle?
Someone else to accessorize! Alfie actually loves to wear clothes, like onesies and tee shirts — I think they make him feel cozy and calm.
Would you ever design pet clothes or accessories? Have you ever made one-offs for your pets?
I would LOVE to design some pet clothes and accessories, especially pet beds. It’s definitely in the cards for me.
I love the painting you made of Cowboy! Did he sit for the portrait?
I painted from a photo of Cowboy in his old fruit-tart-shaped bed. I made the painting when I had only had him a few months, and he has since outgrown the fruit tart.
Is there anything that surprised you about pet parenthood when you first got Cowboy or Alfie?
Seeing their personalities develop over time! I think rescue pets can be shy at first and won’t necessarily show you their full personalities until they are really comfortable with you. Both Alfie and Cowboy are really silly guys with funny personalities!
“I just simply like the idea of cats and their specific things. Throwing in a cat is something that comes naturally now when I make an illustration.”
“Blackie was a friend and a collaborator. I never saw him as a pet and I don’t see Bosko as one either — they are family members.”
“There’s a lot of humor in the brand. Puppet is a very funny creature. He definitely inspires us to laugh more while making the garments.”
“It’s always a really funny, happy parade that’s going through the house and workplace at all times.”
Rachel Davies is a writer who has written for numerous publications including Vox, Wall Street Journal, and Architectural Digest and the parent of a beautiful Cocker Spaniel mix named Thea.