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The Rise of the Cat Tattoo

The Rise of the Cat Tattoo

Emily Sheskin
2014, 6m, documentary

Betty Rose is a Williamsburg tattoo artist who is known for popularizing the "cattoo" - aka cat tattoos. She bonds with her clients as her love of cats runs deep.

This video was originally made for The Sidekick Series - a short docu-webseries on rescue pets and the people who love them.

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The 3-week run for The Rise of the Cat Tattoo ended on Jun 7th, 2017. Thank you to all the fans that supported it!
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The Ten-Day Interview

5 questions with The Rise of the Cat Tattoo director, Emily Sheskin at the half-way mark.
Saturday, May 27th, 2017
  1. 1 Hi Emily! Thanks for being a part of our festival. First, what was it about Betty Rose and her "cattoos" that made you want to make a doc about her?
    I initially made this short film for my documentary web series "The Sidekick Series" which featured amazing rescued or adopted pets and the humans that love them. One of my most popular episodes featured Stephen and his beloved senior cat Ella. Stephen (a huge cat lover) had the most amazing Lil Bub Cattoo and he was the one that put me in touch with the artist, Betty Rose.

    When we initially spoke, she shared her story about Patches and her rescue kitties, and I thought she'd be an amazing fit for the series. Even though most of our episodes were in the 2-3 minute range, I wanted to do a slightly longer piece on Betty Rose and approach it more as short film which is how the short documentary came to be.

    I felt that her work spoke for itself and I loved how colorful her cattoos were. I immediately found Betty Rose to be an awesome subject as she's well spoken, with a ton of personality, and truly understands her clients. From a visual standpoint, watching her get tattooed as well as tattoo others was really engaging, and I felt like the film came together pretty quickly as a result.
  2. 2 Are you a big cat lover? Do you have a cattoo? Why do you think there has been an explosion of popularity for cats in the last decade?
    I am a huge cat lover and I have a small cattoo myself.

    The design for my cattoo is by a very talented artist that goes by rubyetc on the internet. I love how she is able to capture the essence of a cat using very simple lines. My tattoo is nowhere near as vibrant or colorful as the ones that Betty Rose makes, but it's meaningful to me and I have no regrets in getting it.

    I think cats have always been popular, but in general the internet has allowed for shy, introverted cat lovers (myself included) to post and share pictures of our cats on Instagram or reddit, creating a sense of community. Dog people are able to meet at dog parks, but cat people don't have that. With the internet, we're able to come together in a different way and I'm sure that has contributed to cats becoming "more" popular.
  3. 3 Can you share a funny story or your biggest challenge trying to make this film?
    Honestly, Betty Rose and 8 of Swords Tattoo in Brooklyn were both really awesome. It was a super fun, super easy shoot and despite getting distracted every so often by either Betty Rose's cats or the resident tattoo shop cat, I can't come up with anything.

    I will say that by the end of the project, the windscreen of my shotgun microphone was covered in cat fur from all my new buddies rubbing up against it when they came to inspect me and the camera.
  4. 4 What's the film that made you want to become a filmmaker?
    My high school self loved American Beauty, and I remember after seeing it in the theater wanting to one day make a movie that was as much of a masterpiece as I thought it was. It had such a profound effect on me at the time that I can't bring myself to watch it all these years later for fear that it just won't hold up.
  5. 5 What's next?
    Actually, last month my latest short film "Girl Boxer" premiered as a New York Times OpDoc and I'm now working towards making a feature around Jesselyn "JessZilla" Silva and her journey to the (hopefully) 2024 Olympics.

    People can watch the short and find more information about that project at
  6. About the Interviewer: Ben Hicks
    Ben Hicks is a writer/director and co-founder of Fandependent Films. Ben is currently working on making Fandependent Films awesome and is finishing up his first feature film entitled Kids Go Free to Fun Fun Time which was selected for the 2017 IFP Narrative Lab.
    Ben Hicks

Festival Partners

Hammer to Nail Film Pulse Film Fervor