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California artist collective creates line of merchandise featuring IU Bloomington campus

Nov. 2, 2016

Artist collective catstudio has sent "collegiate ambassadors" across the United States as they expand their collegiate collection of vintage-inspired merchandise. But the beauty of IU Bloomington's historic campus stood out.

"I've visited maybe 20 or more campuses in this job, but the IU campus was exceptionally gorgeous," Hillary Young said. "The limestone buildings, the landscaping, the tulips -- it helped the artwork we were creating to come alive for me in a completely new way. I didn't want to leave."

Carmel and Terrell Swan

Terrell, left, and Carmel Swan, owners of catstudio | PHOTO COURTESY OF CATSTUDIO

Young is a collegiate ambassador for catstudio, based in California and owned by husband-and-wife team Carmel and Terrell Swan.

Their pillows, towels and glasses feature geographical places that inspire a sense of nostalgia and possess emotional value, with designs reminiscent of 1930s and 1940s souvenirs. It didn’t take the Swans long to recognize that college campuses like IU are rich with fond memories and a sense belonging.

In May, the studio sent Young to meet with IU Licensing and Trademarks with hopes of a collaboration featuring its scenic core campus and lively culture -- both of which lend themselves to the playful aesthetic the studio maintains in its work.

To ensure that the products would have an air of authenticity, artists at catstudio invested a great deal of time researching the IU Bloomington campus. Their efforts included talking with IU Licensing as well as alumni to learn about campus landmarks and culture, investigating local lore and getting familiar with current and historical athletes.

On the IU line of merchandise, you’ll see lyrics from the fight song, a Marching Hundred formation, Herman B Wells, Showalter Fountain, the Rose Well House and the Kirkwood Observatory among a host of other clever and spirited visual anecdotes.

Enter to win

Current IU faculty and staff with a valid IU email address can enter to win a catstudio collegiate glass featuring IU, a $17 value. The contest opens Nov. 2 and closes at 4 p.m. Nov. 7.

IU collegiate cup by Catstudio

On the IU line of merchandise, you'll see a host of clever and spirited visual anecdotes unique to the Bloomington campus. | IMAGE COURTESY OF CATSTUDIO

"We work closely with the campus to learn about pastimes and traditions," Young said. "Our goal is to see the university from an insider perspective. We want to create a design that goes beyond a logo and becomes an experience."

The result of the collaboration between catstudio and IU is a unique line of items that are part of the studio's collegiate collection -- available on their website as well as in IU's campus bookstores.

"It's a win-win," Young said. "Not only is a buyer getting a piece of gorgeous artwork, they're also helping to support their school when they purchase any catstudio IU item."

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