Have you ever thought about getting personalised pet art featuring your dog? Or maybe you’re looking for that perfect gift for a dog lover?
This episode of The Dog Show with Jessica Marie will help you find the right artist.
Jess is a devoted dog mother to her Whippet, Budd, and artist at Pop Art Puppy Dogs. Her artwork combines an obsession with American pop art and Japanese anime to create eye-catching portraits of our best friends.
In the interview, we discuss why personalised pet art is a timeless way to pay tribute to your dog and also take a behind-the-scenes look at Jess’s process for creating artwork.
Will: This episode features Jessica Marie. Jess is a devoted dog mother to her whippet, Budd, and artist at Pop Art Puppy Dogs. Her art combines an obsession with American pop art and Japanese anime to create eye-catching portraits of our best friends. In the interview, we discuss why personalized pet art is a timeless way to pay tribute to your dog. And we also take a behind-the-scenes look at Jess’s creative process. Hey, Jess. Welcome to “The Dog Show Today.” Thanks very much for coming on.
Jessica: Hi. Thank you for having me.
Will: You’re welcome. You’re welcome. So, let’s start with something nice and light. I want to hear a little bit more about your dog, Budd. He’s a whippet, is that right?
Jessica: Yeah, he sure is. He is my sweetheart. He is a whippet. He’s six years old. And a clearly fur black and white dog. He has an extremely colorful personality. He was super shy when I first adopted him and we’ve worked through, like in some anxiety troubles over the years. But once you get to know him and once you get his trust, he’s just this quirky, bossy, like inquisitive, sweet little boy. And he’s always very well-meaning. He’s a very wonderful studio assistant and a great source of inspiration and amusement to me.
Will: That’s nice. Is anxiety common with whippets or…?
Jessica: Yeah, yeah. It’s a trait that sometimes…within some of the braids, like a lot of separation anxiety and they’re just sort of a nervous personality like generally. But Budd is getting through it and he’s a really quiet character.
Will: So this is probably a bit of a tangent, but I’m actually quite interested about the anxiety thing. What kind of symptoms was he showing when he gets anxious and how did you kind of overcome that?
Jessica: Yeah. Well, Budd, like when you left him at home, he’d start sort of barking and like kind of chewing the furniture in the house, which wasn’t ideal. I mean, if you left him outside the poor thing would try and jump the fence to go and find me. So with a bit of behavioral training, more so to train me than him, like I’ve learned how to kind of speak his language and he’s a different dog. He’s such a wonderful puppy and like going for walks and everything, as long as if you know how to kind of handle that anxiety in a dog, and it really is a behavioral thing. Like we’ve made great strides from where he was to what he is now.
Will: Cool. I guess he’s probably loving having you home more often at the moment.
Jessica: Absolutely. Yeah, he adores it [inaudible 00:03:24]. Like he’s getting really used to it actually.
Will: Yeah, that’s gonna be the problem when we actually start to go back and do things, that dogs are gonna be so used to us being at home all the time.
Jessica: Yeah, I have to kick up the training to another notch.
Will: So whippets in general, is there anything about whippets which is particularly unique that you think people wouldn’t know about?
Jessica: Well, we all know whippets are fast. So I looked it up. According to the internet, they can hit speeds of 56 kilometers per hour or 35 miles per hour. So like it might be a misconception that because of they’re so fast they could be really active and like energetic dogs, but they really aren’t. They are super lazy and total couch potatoes. So like Budd’ll zoom around and have like these quick bursts of playtime and then spend the rest of the day sleeping and like lazying in the sun. Like if you want to catch a whippet, just leave like a soft bed or blanket out in the sunny patch and like wait a bit, and then you’ll be guaranteed to get one.
Will: That’s good to know. As you said because when someone thinks of a like a long-strided, fast dog, they’re probably imagining that they’re going to be more active. But it sounds like a whippet could be a good apartment dog even.
Jessica: Oh, absolutely. Yeah. Like they need probably fewer walks to get by, but they certainly love going on them as well.
Will: Yeah, most dogs do. Most dogs do. Would you say that whippets are your favorite breed of dog? Or do you have a favorite breed of dog?
Jessica: That’s a very difficult question because I get introduced to so many different and wonderful breeds of dogs through the portraits that I paint. Like whippets have definitely won me over and won my heart. But when I was really young, I’ve got this list that I wrote probably like when I was primary school age of all the dogs that I like. There’s a photo of it on my website. But on this list, it says, “The dogs I like are a pug, a beagle, a labrador, a whippet, a Great Dane, a greyhound, and a giant Schnauzer.” They’re like life goals. So at least I’ve ticked one breed off the list.
Will: I was gonna say at least you had the foresight as a kid to write whippet down, you know?
Jessica: Well, it was meant to be. And I rated my choices on this list as well. And number one was actually a pug, which I’m pretty sure was because of the movie, “Milo & Otis,” at the time. Yeah, there’s just so many like different and gorgeous breeds out there. I got to give a special mention to Cavoodles. I’ve done a lot of portraiture of this braid and they’re super cute, and they’re winning me over too.
Will: They’re a very popular breed, the Cavoodles, at the moment. I guess they’re good for city living, aren’t they?
Jessica: Yes, yeah. I’ve had the pleasure to meet one of my client’s Cavoodles as well and they’re just amazing.
Will: So I guess that probably leads us into understand a bit more about how you got into like doing pet portraits. I guess it sounds like you’ve loved dogs for a long, long time. Do you wanna tell me a bit more about like the journey that got you into being an artist that actually like specialized in pet portraits?
Jessica: Yeah, for sure. Well, I’ve always been into art from a young age. And like as I’ve grown up and developed my art, I really love American pop art and Japanese anime and manga. They’ve really been my influences and like painting throughout the years like through school and uni like generally. Like I was influenced by those styles and generally painting animals in like really colorful paintings. So that’s where kind of like my style evolved from. And the reason why now I paint pets specifically was mostly because of my first whippet, Finn. Sadly, he’s no longer with me but he’s very special because he was there when kind of that idea clicked.
I was talking with a neighbor with him beside me about dogs, about art and she showed me a dog that she’d done a drawing of and there’s Finn next to me going, “So, what about me? What are you gonna do about that?” Which is like that idea fell together. And with that bit of inspiration, Finn became my first pop art puppy portrait.
Will: Oh, cool. That’s a nice thing too. And I think that’s one of the main reasons I imagine people would be getting personalized, right, for their dogs because those times if…once they’re gone, you’ve got a great memory like of that dog that you can have forever.
Jessica: Oh, absolutely. Yeah, they are a great way to commemorate a dog and sort of also go through kind of that healing process and like have this amazing artwork on your wall that you can treasure and look at forever and kind of remember the happy times you’ve had with the dog. Yeah, like I’ve painted pets for all sorts of reasons, but sort of in the beginning after Finn’s portrait, I painted a greyhound for a friend for a gift. And that went on Facebook and all of a sudden I get inquiry to for another greyhound’s painting. So all of a sudden I was getting commissioned requests and to where I am now, it really just snowballed from there.
Will: Well, I think you’ve got one particular benefit, which is like the art’s so beautiful, which is a benefit in the sense that it could be easily like self-promotional in a way. Like once people share it on social media, they’re gonna want to share it again, and it’s very personalized, ticks a lot of those boxes from a social media perspective I think, which is credit to you obviously because you’re creating beautiful art. So what do you think…? And this is probably something that might be self-explanatory, but there might be other things that I’m not thinking about. Why do you think people are drawn to personalized art for their pets more so than just buying a general like a greyhound print or a French Bulldog print or whatever it is?
Jessica: Yeah, pet art I think is really special because it captures your pet in that way that you can treasure. It isn’t like just a print of a French Bulldog. Like it’s Frankie, it’s your pet and so it’s got his marking, he’s green, his attitude all kind of wrapped up into this beautiful artwork. And I think that we develop such deep connections with our dogs and each has their own personality, which is really lovely. And to commemorate that in a portrait and have something bright and beautiful you can show off on your wall in your home or on your social media to really like bring that pet spirit to life I think is quite wonderful.
Will: Yeah. You don’t need to sell me on it. I think I totally agree. But you did try to sell me on that because I’m talking about [inaudible 00:10:59] Frankie.
Jessica: Yeah, I did stalk your dog. It’s why he’s very gorgeous.
Will: I’m sure that one of your paintings would look pretty good in our apartment somewhere. Add a bit more color. My wife is very black and white tones though, so I’d have to try and get in across the line.
Jessica: We’ll work on that.
Will: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay, so I’m interested to hear a little bit more about like your process. So let’s say for example I wanted to get Frankie a portrait of Frankie done in the style of painting that you do, the pop art style. What would the process look like?
Jessica: Well, it all starts really from a photo and getting to know the pet, getting to know Frankie. I like to involve my clients in the process of making their portrait. I think it’s half the fun to see your pet come to life in the artwork. So I offer stages of feedback throughout the painting process. Once we’ve got all the details about what your pet’s personality is and some photo references like right through from the first drawing to as I add layers of color and detail and then into the final portrait. Like seeing that come together, I really like to keep my clients involved with. And, of course, they know their pets best as well so we can really showcase them in exactly the way that they want in their homes.
Will: Yeah. Just thinking about that, it’d almost make an amazing stop motion video where like the process of you like sketching and then going through to the painting stage as well. That’d be an amazing sentimental piece in itself, I think, for the owners.
Jessica: Yeah. I did one of… When I painted my dog, Budd, I filmed that entire process and did make a video. That’s up on my website.
Will: Oh, cool.
Jessica: Yeah, yeah, it was a very, very good thing to do, but very time-consuming. Very time-consuming.
Will: How long does it take you to, from… Do you kind of do this over multiple days or you sit down and just try and knock out a painting in one…?
Jessica: Like the full process is usually a couple of weeks. It really does depend on how complex the portrait, how many pets are in it, the medium I’m using. But it’s really hard to give you an exact… But I work with my clients on, you know, if it’s a gift, what it would take to be ready for the date that they need it. So it’s all very fluid kind of process.
Will: I guess I was more intrigued by your like creative process. Do you feel like you like to sit down for long periods or…?
Jessica: Yeah, yeah, I kind of get into the zone with it once I start. So I usually can waste away the hours sitting at my zone and not remembering to get up. So, yeah, it’s really very consuming, but it’s also…it gives me a lot of joy because it’s something I really love to do on a subject matter I really love.
Will: Yeah, I can imagine. I can imagine it’d be almost therapeutic in a way as well.
Will: So this whole like personalized pet art, is a bit of a trend at the moment I feel like in the pet space. There’s lots of different options out there for people. There’s everything from standardized prints to really customized art, that which is what you’re doing. It’s probably a little bit intimidating for owners that are looking for something to showcase their dog. What would you recommend to an owner that’s looking for an artist to look out for? What questions should they be asking to make sure that they’ve found the right artist for them?
Jessica: Yeah, well pet portraits certainly are popular. I mean, I started doing this back in 2014. So since I’ve been on the scene, I’ve seen a lot of artists like come through and paint pet portraits over the years, which is awesome because the more pet art in the world, the better. I think like it gives people a great amount of choice when it comes to what they can commission of their pets. I think, firstly, it’s important to decide what style you’d like your pet to be depicted in. Like speaking for myself, I’m sure many other artists will spend years kind of honing in on our individual style. So it’s really good to have a look at artwork an artist has done before and make sure you’re happy to have your pet like depicted in the same way. And so like if it’s a more realistic style, if it’s a more stylized, I mean, I paint obviously in a very big, bright, colorful style. That’s not to say that’s for everyone.
I believe that pets like brighten up our lives and so should their art. It’s really great to have a lot of choice out there for different artists. And I recommend looking on Instagram as a really good place to start your such for something. If you’re looking for a pet portrait in terms of being intimidated by the process, please don’t be. It’s probably good to start, if you don’t know where to start, like sending a photo through to the artist that you’re looking at. I can definitely speak for myself and I hope other pet portrait artists out there that we adore looking at photos of your dog just as much as you do. So sending through a photo and perhaps a bit of a description on what your dog is like is a really nice starting point. And as an artist, we can direct you to what information that we need to bring out like a quote and then sort of hash out all the details of what you’re looking for, for the pet portrait.
Will: Yeah, perfect. So I guess what you’re saying is to do a bit of research, get to know some artists out there by looking on Instagram or online or anything like that to get a feel for the style that you’re looking for. And then just jump in and send a photo or get in touch with them and see what their relationships like whether it’s the type of artist you want to work with.
Jessica: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, everyone works in slightly different ways. So it’s really good just to reach out and the process will go from there. And then, yeah, you can see if it’s the right fit and if it’s something that you want to move forward with.
Will: Do you think that’s, at all, different if I’m buying a gift for someone? So like, obviously, I know if I want to get it for myself, I know my own style, I know what I like. Like what kind of questions would you ask me about my friend if I wanted to get something done for them?
Jessica: Yeah. I mean, commissioning for a gift, it’s really good first off if you know the style of the person you’re buying for. If you’re not too sure, it’s sort of something that we can work around in that can do a like an initial sketch or a concept just to see if it’s something that you think your friend will like. I’ve done many, many portraits as gifts and they’ve all been received beautifully with heaps of praise. So I don’t think there’s much you can do that’s wrong when it comes to creating a custom pet portrait or commissioning one for someone that’s special to you. But definitely, if you can source out like what kind of style they’re into you’re gonna position there too.
Will: I guess if you think someone’s really particular then you could always…
Jessica: Do searches. I think searches are great.
Will: Exactly, yeah. I want to get you this art, but I know that you’re gonna want to show for yourself.
Jessica: Yeah, that’s where you could consider getting a voucher. I’ve done it that way as well where the recipient of the gift gets to go along on that journey of the creation of their artwork which is also awesome as well.
Will: Well, it’s an experience as well rather than just the painting. Like once the paint is there then it’s complete. But I think that the way you’ve explained the whole process will be enjoyable as an owner as well.
Jessica: Yeah, and for the artist.
Will: Yeah. Cool, Jess. Thanks for all that info. Where can people find out more about Pop Art Puppy Dogs and everything you’re doing?
Jessica: Yeah, for sure. My website is the best place to go. Here it is. So, popartpuppydogs.com is where I have all my artwork up online and details about my style myself, my dog, and inquiry form there if you want to come and say hi and get a quote for a portrait. And Instagram is a great place to go as well where I update what I’m doing and all the different and new artwork that I’m posting up. So you can definitely find me there and I look forward to hearing from everyone who would love to get a Pop Art Puppy Dogs portrait done.
Will: Yeah, perfect. I feel like all my guests need to have this science. It just makes it so much easier.
Jessica: Yeah, definitely for the video.
Will: Yeah, for the video. I guess it doesn’t make much sense for the audio, does it? Oh, well. Anyway, thanks so much for coming on today, Jess. I really enjoyed hearing more about your artwork and the process you go through. And I think for anyone looking to get some personalized pet art done, it’s definitely worthwhile checking out your website. So thanks so much.
Jessica: Thank you so much for having me.