While wandering through the CatCon event a couple of months ago, I was immediately drawn to a booth full of really fun cat art. The booth belonged to Leeza Hernandez, the owner and artist behind Leezaworks.
Leeza currently works as a full-time magazine art director, children’s book illustrator and licensing artist — all while selling her cat art in her Etsy shop.
Three rescue cats rule her house — Jaspurr, Princess Pippa and Cole, Jr., all of whom provide a constant source of inspiration for her art. “Between the three of them, there’s always a gesture or scene that fuels an idea for a new piece,” she says.
Cats in general inspire her, too. “It’s pure cattitude,” she says. “They’re beautiful animals to draw — capturing the flick of a tail, a hint of a scowl, the twist, fold or stretch of the body. Felines fascinate me to no end. If there’s a cat in the room, I’m the one sitting on the floor “pss-pss-pss-ing and scribbling studies in my sketchbook.”
Leeza hopes that her cat art brings happiness and inspiration to others, too. “One of my greatest joys in doing what I do is when someone reacts with a smile, a gasp, a chuckle or a nod and tells me how much my art reminds me of their cat(s),” she says.
One of her consistent characters is a black cat called Nigel, which she turned into a plush doll. Nigel has quite a following of his own. Leeza often receives messages from customers with pictures of Nigel up to no good or having fun. “One couple takes their Nigel on vacation overseas,” she says. “A family’s daughter insisted Nigel have his own featured spot on their annual holiday card, and another family threw Nigel a welcome-home party with a cake.”
So what’s next for Leeza? Her immediate goals include illustrating a new book, introducing a new character to her plush line and expanding the Nigel & Friends franchise with new products, adding even more new prints to her Etsy shop and traveling to more cat conventions.
“I’ve also been involved with various rescue organizations to help cats in need,” she says. “So more of that, too!”