At the end of 2014, I started selling pet portraits. What an incredibly rewarding, yet challenging piece of my business! In just one short month I did three different pieces, and each provided me with some fantastic lessons I want to share with you. If you are a pet owner interested in having a pet portrait done of your baby, consider the following before committing to a specific artist.
Good Photography is a Must: A pet portrait is only as good as the photography the artist has to reference of the pet. Unless the artist knows your pet well, they need to rely on imagery for real detail, expressions, and so forth. When I do wildlife artwork, I have the ability to cull from 100s of photos. I can study countless positions, expressions, and coloring of animals to create the perfect sketch and final artwork. But, when I do a pet portrait, I don't have that luxury. Make sure you have high resolution photographs (300 dpi), with good lighting and that aren't grainy. Graininess in photography makes it difficult to really see details of your pet's fur, eyes, or coloring. The better the photography, the better your artwork will be.
Consider an In-Person Introduction: To take it one step further, if you lack good quality photography of your pet, consider having the artist spend some time with your pet, getting to know their personality. The artist may even take amazing photos of your pet in just the right pose for the pet portrait. I've actually started offering this as part of a package for those individuals who would like to have a photo journal of their pet, as well.
Know What Style You Like: How Fido or Mittens is captured through the artist's eye can vary greatly from artist to artist. Look at as much of the artist's portfolio as possible to get a sense of their style. Decide if you like heavier paintings in oils, or if you prefer lighter mediums, such as watercolors, colored pencils, or pastels. Are you more interested in a realistic portrait, a caricature or a looser interpretation? Make sure the artist's work resonates with you.
Consider the Background...for a Second: As you know from seeing my artwork, I take a minimalist approach to what I do. Most often, the subject IS the art. I downplay backgrounds and tend to highlight the animal and its features as much as possible. Consider what YOU want in your artwork. Think about where you might be placing your pet portrait in your home and how the colors of the background need to blend with the decor of the room. Or, if you'd prefer, no background at all.
Wildlife artwork is a very different animal (pardon the pun) than pet portraiture. One of the biggest differences is that when you purchase wildlife paintings or art, you don't know the animal intimately, and so, you don't have any preconceived ideas of what to expect, and you don't have any way of knowing if the portrait is a 100% accurate representation. Pet portraiture, however, is very personal and the owner knows all of the nooks and crannies of the animal and its personality. This makes it significantly more challenging, but on the other hand, significantly more rewarding!
If you have a pet, and are interested in a pet portrait, please feel free to ping me. I'd love to create something spectacular for you.
Now it's your turn. Have you ever had a pet portrait done of your pet? If so, why? If not, why not? Share in the comments below so we can all benefit.