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Growlmama is a space for design-loving dog parents to find & share the things they love doggy-style. 

We are not a dog blog per se. We are design-lovers who just happen to love dogs. 

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Custom Puptraits #13

Celebrate the perfection of your pup with a custom pet portrait

It's no secret that Growlmama loves art and dogs in (almost) equal measure. Our mushrooming wonderwall of Frida art is testament to that.

This week we share a selection of our favourite dog artists and makers - including illustrators, photographers, digital artists and doggy sculptors - all ready and waiting to to capture your mutt's best side. 

Read on to hear from the artists in their own words and commission a bespoke pup-trait of your own.

Frida by Amy Turner, digital artwork drawn with finger.

Frida by Amy Turner, digital artwork drawn with finger.

Amy with her dog muses Dolly Parton and Ozzie.

Amy with her dog muses Dolly Parton and Ozzie.

Amy Turner creates unique, contemporary digital pet portraits in vivid colours which ship worldwide. 

Why Dogs?

I have been obsessed with dogs since I was a little girl. I had (and still have to this day) a photo encyclopedia of dogs that I studied and memorized. I knew every breed and dreamed of having my own dog. I didn't get a dog until I was 13 and she was a Samoyed named Samantha.

I have always loved art being heavily influenced by my dad who was a dentist and an artist, and the marriage of the 2 worlds, Art and Dogs, seemed to just fall into place.

If you are a dog person, talking with other dog people is the greatest thing in the world. It is a language we all "get". Whether they are still alive or we remember our sweet pup who passed years ago, we all have a common bond in that regard. I feel like dogs are the great equalizer.

How would you describe your artistic style?

I am full-on loving the freedom of digital illustration. I still treat it like a painting or drawing but it gives me so many options for fur or whiskers and the general feeling of what dogs evoke. My style is very expressive but still true to what the dog looks like and it's personality. It isn't a "caricature" it is a representation with an artistic spin.

How do you work?

I work from photos that people email me. The great thing about that, is that people can be anywhere in the world and we can still collaborate! Mostly, I never meet the dogs and a lot of the time, they are memorials. The greatest compliment I receive is when someone tells me that I have captured the essence of their pup. It helps them to live on.

How long does it take to complete a commission?

The turn-around time is pretty quick: usually 1-2 weeks and I can always do a rush order. 

Who has been your favourite dog muse?

My first muse was my boy dog Skippy who became known as Edith Piaf. I did my first work of him. He piqued my interest in different styles and was such a great muse. 

Do you have a dog?

Yes. We have two rescue long-haired Chihuahua mixes - Dolly Parton and Ozzie. They are both amazing and both wonderful models.

What do your dogs think of your work?

I think they like my work. I mean, they are frequent subjects, so I would hope that would tip the scales in my direction ;).

Contact Amy Turner Studio here.

Frida, by Waggy Whisker.

Frida, by Waggy Whisker.

Large scale dog portrait by Waggy Whisker.

Large scale dog portrait by Waggy Whisker.

Waggy Whisker is a London-based photographer who creates gorgeous pup-traits in a style that will blend with any interior and that can be rendered in super-size formats.

Why dogs?

I began with my degree in Fashion Photography, but found that it wasn't quite fulfilling enough in the way I wanted my career to be as a photographer. I like fashion, but LOVE animals. I also have a love for home decor and interior styling. With this recipe in mind I thought it would be exciting to create fashionable, contemporary images of people's beloved dogs that could hang proudly on the walls of any stylish home. Now I have started I won't stop as they are an absolute delight to work with!

How would you describe your photographic style?

I use a digital camera so it has a modern feel, but then I purposely desaturate and soften the photographs so when sitting at home the environment around the framed picture remains relaxing, and will go with almost any colour palette clients have opted for in their home. I aim to create relaxed essences where the image is all about the furry subject and its personality, as opposed to distracting harsh colours or too crisp or defined.

Another reason why I like to work with simplicity is because I have chosen size as part of the wow factor. Prints as large as A0 may be ordered or even bigger if you wish. 'If not, why not?!' is the approach here. 

How do you work?

Last year I got Oscar - my first dog as an adult and of my own. Working now often consists of one hand on keyboard, and the other playing tug of war with him! My day is mostly based around his preferences, lazy mornings, brunch walkies, then I try to get work done in the day whilst he sleeps. Around 7pm we have second walkies and then I'll come back to do some more work! Unless it is a day in the studio, then that is a different ball game. Luckily my pup has been very well socialised with other dogs so he is nice and relaxed when sharing the studio.

Being self-employed I have my fingers in a few pies; myself and a friend, Sigita Calabrese started a dog-friendly events company, Oscar and Rupert, which is a very nice change in a physical way from my life revolving around digital pixels. 

How long does it take you to complete a commission?

If you needed something urgently then I am flexible and could make that happen. For example, if you were in need of a last minute birthday surprise! But otherwise a week is usually the waiting time for the edited digital images from a small standard shoot.

Who has been your favourite doggy muse?

Growlmama, you're a naughty puppy! I can't answer that! Haha! Each and every shoot always has hilarious and eventful moments and I'm always learning! Every dog really is so different.

What breed is your dog? What does he think of your work?

Oscar Bigboots is an 8 month Patterdale Terrier x Border Collie Mix.

What does he think of your work?

Oscar loves my work as it means he gets to make more four-legged friends, eat the treats that are on tap for the other dog models and play with the squeaky toys. He has an Instagram account so feel free to check out his very own selfies @oscar.bigboots 

Contact Waggy Whisker here.

Bespoke dog embroidery by Kathy Halper. Main Image: I thought there'd be more dogs, by Kathy Halper.

Bespoke dog embroidery by Kathy Halper. Main Image: I thought there'd be more dogs, by Kathy Halper.

Kathy Halper intricately embroiders small-scale pet portraits that are painstakingly and lovingly worked to create exact replicas of each furry muse.

Why dogs?

I love dogs. Really really love them. Always have. My first grade teacher called my parents to tell them I needed a dog! As an artist, I find they're so beautiful or adorable or hysterical...I never get tired of looking at different dogs and I love trying to capture their unique personalities.

How would you describe your artistic style?

My style is detailed and painterly, at least as detailed as possible using embroidery as my medium. I love creating pet portraits with thread as my paint. I feel like it brings a tactile, almost cuddly warmth that can't be created with more traditional mediums. 

How do you work?

I work from photos provided by my clients. While a great large file crisp photo makes my life easier, I'll work with almost any photo. I lay a base design under the first layer of stitches and use print outs and computer images as reference throughout the process.

How long does a commission take?

I quote estimates of 4-6 weeks. I typically have anywhere from 6-12 orders in a queue which is why I quote the time I do. If someone needs it sooner I may try to shift things around or simply work extra hours to get it done for them. 

Who has been your favourite doggy muse?

I have had so many projects that were dogs I fell in love with. But my best doggy muses have to be my own dogs. Beginning with my dear departed Beagle Bugsy. She was the first pet I painted and I thought she was so beautiful. To me she was the quintessential dog and made every room more beautiful simply by entering it. 

Do you have any dogs of your own?

Right now I have two dogs. Baker, an 11 year old male black and white Papillon and Fiona, a 1.5 year old female rescue mix. We think maybe black Cocker Spaniel and Chihuahua.

What do your dogs think of your work?

I think they love my work because it keeps me at home sitting on the couch for hours most days. So we spend a lot of time cuddling on the sofa. Then when I need to move we take a nice walk. They're with me all day!

Contact Kathy Halper here.

Modjo by Robin Parker.

Modjo by Robin Parker.

Bath artist Robin Parker manipulates metal to create a perfect likeness of your mutt in 3D.

Why dogs?

I don't just do dogs but as I own a Whippet and a Lurcher they were crying out for attention! The lines on hounds work so well as simple wire sculptures.

How would you describe your artistic style?

Wire!! Simple, sculptural. I try to keep the amount of wire used to a minimum keeping them as close to line drawings as possible.

How do you work?

Photos.

How long does a commission take?

They take a few days to get just right. Lead time is about 6 weeks currently.

Who has been your favourite doggy muse?

My Whippet, of course! but also a lovely Cockapoo called Betty.

What do your dogs think of your work?

They're indifferent to be honest. Typical.

Contact Robin Parker here.

Bear the Jorkiepoo, Muse to Faye Moorhouse.

Bear the Jorkiepoo, Muse to Faye Moorhouse.

Meet Faye Moorhouse Growlmama to Bear the Jorkieapso and Queen of the Wonky Pet Portrait.

Why Dogs?

I just love them! They are amazingly intelligent creatures who can totally change lives. 

How would you describe your artistic style?

I'm terrible at describing my own work, I tend just to say it is kind of naive, outsider, folk art, funny, weird and dark.

How do you work?

So for my pet portraits I work from photos that owners send in. I like it if they send a whole load of them and then I can really see their character and take a little something form each photograph. 

I work in gouache paint on paper and I don't create any roughs, I just dive straight in. For me this is the best way as I find paintings can lose a lot of character if they are over-planned. 

How long does it take to complete a commission?

Usually just a few days but I say to allow a week.

Who has been your favourite dog muse?

I have to say my own dog Bear, he's a right terror but a constant source of inspiration and joy. (and disappointment and heartache at times - he's still learning!!:))

I also love Frida of course - that face!!!

What breed is your dog?

Bear is a Jack Russell x Yorkie Apso (Yorkshire Terrier x Lhasa Apso) so a jorkieapso. He's a handful but has taught me so much!

What does your dog think of your work?

He is not at all interested in my work. I think if I rubbed it in fox poo he might take a look.

Contact Faye Moorhouse here.

Jack Russell carved crayon by Wax Nostalgic.

Jack Russell carved crayon by Wax Nostalgic.

Artist Hoang Tran carves crayons into dogs. Our Frida crayon is spot on!

Why dogs?

Since my goal was to sell my work online, I had to choose subjects that I thought would be desirable to potential customers. I mainly do pop culture based-art but I wanted to try to expand my audience. I know that people love their dogs and there are already artists out there who do custom drawings or paintings of pets. It just seemed like a good fit with crayons and the end result turned out great.

How would you describe your artistic style?

I consider myself a crayon carver. My medium is just crayon. Many of my carvings so I consider myself a crayon carver. My medium is just crayon. Many of my carvings are multicoloured so some assume that I paint them which is incorrect. I actually melt wax from other coloured crayons and then apply wax to the main crayon. Once that cools, I can continue shaping and carving as needed.

How do you work?

All the dogs I carve are based on customers' real life pets so I ask for photographs from many different angles. I occasionally look online for a reference photo if a certain angle is missing but I try to stick to the owner's photos as much as possible.

If I were to commission a pup trait how long would it take?

I generally like a few weeks to work since I may have multiple orders to do. However I can adjust my schedule if a customer needs it sooner.

Who has been your favourite doggy muse?

It's hard to pick a favourite. Each dog is unique, however they're all loved by their owner. I give 100% to each carving because I know how much it means to them and I don't want to disappoint.

Contact Wax Nostalgic here.

Winny the Corgi 1
Winny the Corgi, by Rachel Oates Pet Photography.

Winny the Corgi, by Rachel Oates Pet Photography.

Frida by Rachel Oates Pet Photography.

Frida by Rachel Oates Pet Photography.

Have your dog pupped by London photographer Rachel Oates, whose beautiful candy-coloured portraits of her Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Winny have made him insta-famous and helped revive this dying breed.

Why dogs?

I started out in fashion photography but quickly after getting my pup Winston I realised I could combine both my passion for animals and photography.

How would you describe your photographic style?

I love working in a studio environment, using a lot of pastel colours has become a little bit of a signature too. But equally I really enjoy location shooting too, there's a sense of freedom and fun working with a dog in their natural environment.

What are the main influences of your work?

I collect loads of reference photographs, anything from historic dog photos to contemporary portraits. Also my background in fashion photography still affects the way I approach some pet photo shoots.

What does a shoot involve and how long does it all take?

First of all I like to find out about your dog such as their likes/dislikes, character and what dates work best for you. Location-wise the shoot can either take place in your home, studio,  or the great outdoors (with fingers crossed for good weather!) or a mixture of different locations. A shoot will normally last around 2 - 3 hours, including breaks and time for getting your dog used to me and the camera. I'll usually send you 20 - 30 edited images to you as soon as possible so you can pick the prints you love!

Who has been your favourite doggy muse?

My constant muse has to be my Pembroke Welsh Corgi Winston, he keeps pushing me to try new and exciting things. He even has his own Instagram @WinnytheCorgi

What does Winston think of your work?

He must get a bit bored with me photographing him all the time! But I try to make all shoots I do with him and other dogs as fun and relaxed as possible. The happier or more relaxed the dogs are the better the images turn out.

Contact Rachel Oates Pet Photography here.

Pointer, by Katherine Bell-McClure.

Pointer, by Katherine Bell-McClure.

Frida study in green, by Katherine Bell-McClure.

Frida study in green, by Katherine Bell-McClure.

Katherine Bell-McClure is a mixed-media artist who creates beautiful puptraits so subtly detailed with layer upon layer of drawing mixed with paint that you you will find something new to delight you on every viewing.

Why dogs?

Because they are the best animals in the world, hands down. That unconditional love...nothing can match it.

How would you describe your artistic style?

I'm primarily a mixed media artist and enjoy putting as much in the detail around the dogs as into the dogs themselves.

How do you work?

I ask for fun or memorable information about your pet and go through my absurdly large collection of paper memorabilia to add to the painting, then I work from photos of the dogs. Most people send me tons of photos, but I only need one of each dog- the one look you'd pick if your dog could sit for a portrait.

How long does it take you to complete a puptrait?

I can get the portrait (puptrait!) itself done within a week or two, but sometimes there's a waiting list- particularly before Christmas.

Who has been your best dog muse?

Nellie and Dixie, my Basset Hounds for their patience and personalities, big paws and droopy faces. Truthfully though, pointers are my favourite dogs to paint. My brother had one in the 1990's named Honey that I drew over and over, and I continue to paint pointers today from random photos on Instagram and other sites.

Tell me more about your dogs. What do they think of your work?

Nellie and Dixie are my two Basset Hounds, both from Basset Hound Rescue of Georgia. I've never had better dogs than these two. They are good companions to us humans as well as to our chickens, ducks and rabbits. Dixie wants to be by my side 24/7, so she is always in the studio with me while I work. Nellie much prefers to sit outside the window and stare at me, judging me from afar. I'd say Dixie likes my art more than Nellie does!

Contact Katherine here.

Dog Cushion

While we've featured Mia Loves Jay's incredible customised cushions before our post on pup-traits would be incomplete without mentioning her beautiful beastie designs made from Liberty art fabrics.

Why dogs?

I adore dogs. Growing up, we always had a minimum of two dogs in our family. In fact, there has never been a time where we didn’t have a furry friend around the house. My parents are forever adopting dogs, be it from a dog they found straying or by hearing of a dog needing a home etc. Right now, they have five dogs and each of my five siblings have at least one dog. When we all get together for Christmas or special occasions, the dogs are always included. So you can just imagine the fun and mayhem. Collectively, there are more dogs than humans in my family. 

Creating my design collection of dogs on Liberty London art fabric all happened by accident really. Shortly after I married Jay, we expanded our family with a Labrador puppy and a few months later we adopted a sweet senior Westie.  But I didn’t want to stop there. I could see all these dogs needing homes and my heart was breaking. Jay, being the realist, insisted two dogs is more than enough for us and suggested I do something to help the raise funds for the shelters and animal charities. So I started to create my doggy cushion designs, combining my love for art, dogs and Liberty London fabric. I then donated my work, to help raise much needed funds, at a summer event here in Dublin, called ‘Bark in the Park’, run by a local animal welfare charity. I made different dog character cushion designs for them. My work was instantly loved, raffle ticket sales went through the roof and from there I started to receive commissions from individuals of their own pet. I still donate to animal welfare charities locally and all around the world.

My love for animals doesn’t just stop at dogs, and neither does my custom cushion designs. I have created bespoke designs featuring cats, horses and even a fox design. Which I really enjoyed.

How would you describe your artistic style?

Fun, quirky, humourous, vibrant textile art that inspires and evokes full on emotion which we can all relate to, is loved across all ages and gets a big thumbs up from not just the girls, but the blokes too. My work is not limited to a particular style- It ranges from a simple straight up portrait to full on cutesy characters with bows and lots of pink, hippy chicks, dark gothic romance, retro divas, music legends, sporting greats, fashion icons, historical leaders, hipster dudes, dapper gents, comic book super heroes to full on masculinity. 

All cushions are handcrafted and designed onto a backdrop of the the most beautiful Liberty London art fabrics which are carefully selected to compliment the overall design.

How do you work?

I work from photographs and a general discussion about the personalities of both the dog and their human(s). The result is often a blend of both personalities and the loves and colours that represent their life. Each piece starts out as a sketched out idea. I hand draw every detail. I carefully select each fabric piece which is then hand cut, pieced together like a jigsaw and sewn in a sketching style to make up the dog portrait. It’s very time consuming but when you love what you do and know that the recipient will hold it so dear, it makes it all worthwhile. Coming up with an idea for the design is the best fun. I often involve Jay in this part of the process. We bounce ideas off each other that usually ends up with lots of giggles. The inspiration is endless. There are so many more dog breeds and characters that I want to add to the collection.

How long does it take you to complete a pup trait commission?

Commissions normally take about 4-8 weeks. Urgent requests can be prioritised. I find selecting the fabric and the colours of the threads is the most time consuming. It has to be perfect. I often spend hours looking through hundreds of Liberty London fabric swatches to find the exact one that suits the design. The reason why I love Liberty London fabrics so much is this vast collection, along with the fine quality of their materials.

Who has been your favourite dog muse?

I don’t think I can pick a favourite. Each and every design I have created means so much to me and has a piece of my heart. I’ve designed a lot of commissions now and can remember the name of each dog, their personality traits, even the name of the Liberty London fabric and the inspiration behind the design. So much time, love and emotion goes into each piece with constant communication that, in the end, a beautiful friendship has formed. The communication doesn’t just stop once a design is completed. I often get regular updates about the doggy and the individual.  Which is just so special. There have been occasions where I have cried tears and felt the heartache when I hear sad updates of a doggy passing. This is something that I had never envisaged when I started out and it’s tough. There have also been times where I have laughed till my face ached at some of the crazy antics your adorable pups get up to. 

I regularly receive commissions of dogs that have passed and on a few occasions I have had to walk away and take a break. Especially when I’m at the stage of painting their eyes. I can see them staring up at me, I can see the love and how much happiness they brought to their family and I have visions of their human receiving such a special piece, along with the heart felt emotions of both tears and happiness. I know they will treasure their design forever and their darling dog will always be with them.

Tell me more about your dogs. What do they think of your work?

My dogs are my babies! I have two dogs that mean the world to me. 

Amy, is a 14-year-old Westie. She’s the Queen of our house. Actually, of all the dogs in my extended family, Amy reigns supreme. She has us all wrapped around her little paw. Amy is a very independent lady. She likes food, sleeping, belly rubs, more food and listening to music- Her first mama was a singer and I believe she used to sing to Amy all the time. So cute. Amy doesn’t care too much about my designs, her main priority is that I’m earning enough to make sure she has a full belly and iTunes.  

Milo, a 6-year-old Labrador. He’s the CEO and Dog Boss of Mia Loves Jay. Milo is my shadow and unlike Amy, is not one bit independent. He is very involved in my passion. Overseeing and inspecting deliveries (aka barking like a crazed lunatic at the DHL guy and the obligatory crotch sniff), photobombing every photo shoot, helping me parcel up items by fetching tape and packaging materials, making sure I take breaks with walks to the park or the beach and celebrating the little wins with a dance, slobbery kisses and a cuddle. 

What do they think of my work? Well…. I guess the best part for them is fact that I work from home and they are rarely on their own. The downside, I can never have lunch without being guilt tripped into giving them my food. We all know that puppy dog stare and the drool.

Where can your work be found? 

My website www.mialovesjay.com which links you to my an online Etsy store - https://www.etsy.com/ie/shop/MiaLovesJay

I’m also stocked with: 

Wolf & Badger, London, 

Viola Boutique, Connaught street, London

The Cloth Shop, Dublin

Siopaella, Dublin

Love Supreme, Dublin

Homebody Boutique, Brooklyn

Shelter Chic, Tribeca

Manitic Boutique, Warsaw

Independent Designers Emporium, Australia

And soon to be stocked with Pets Pyjamas, London

 

Contact Mia here.

Play Nicely Growlmama
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