After college, I was in a trade show with drawings from my sketch books that were printed onto wooden blocks. The blocks were cut out with a bandsaw following the shape of the drawing. While I had a few loyal customers, it was challenging to build blocks into a business.
Fortunately, one small antique shop in Osaka, Japan took a special interest in what I was doing. They flew me over to Osaka for an NYC fair with the job of drawing New York City icons on the spot for their customers. I painted rapidfire images of the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building on cardboard, which apparently made me an authentic “NYC Artist.” Note: I was born and raised in NYC and I do like to think of myself as an authentic person!
As the week went on at the fair, people began to ask me to draw their cats and dogs. Of course, everyone had hundreds of photos of their beloved pets ready to show me on their phones.
I had never painted a dog or cat before, but I immediately loved painting their funny and expressive faces. Not one animal was the same. One could say it was an a-ha moment in my life as an artist, because these pets were way more interesting than painting the Statue of Liberty on repeat.
And so my career as a pet portrait artist began, right there, in a mall in Osaka.
Back in New York City, I took up residency as an in-house pet portrait artist at Fishs Eddy, the famous tableware store in NYC. It’s been an amazing five years with thousands of pets painted, along with some less predictable ones such as donkeys, turtles, bulls, spiders, and even a few crabs!
PS. The irony of my entire story is that I’m incredibly allergic to dogs and cats, but by some crazy happenstance I have found a way to be around them all the time, with no inhaler needed!.