Ben Lenovitz, pet portrait artist, in front of a wall of his pop, folk art pet portraits, painted on cardboard.

PAINTING ALL PETS

DOGS, CATS, FISH, LIZARDS, CRABS, BUGS, YOU NAME IT!

I grew up with tons of reptiles — mainly because I’m very allergic to dogs. I’m so allergic that their saliva in the air gives me a rash. So, I wasn’t around dogs. I never even paid attention to them. Dogs were just not on my radar. As folks started to ask me to do more and more portraits of their pets (mostly dogs and cats) I began to really look at dogs — the patterns on their fur, their snouts, and their adorable eyes. As I started painting them, I really fell in love with animals and their relationship with the owner.

 After college, I was in a trade show with these blocks I use to make. The blocks were my drawings printed on wood and cut out with the band saw. I had a few customers, but it was never really successful — except for one customer who stuck with me. It was a small antique shop in Osaka, Japan. And while the blocks didn’t do too much for them, they flew me out to Osaka for a fair to draw NYC icons on the spot.  I drew rapid fire line drawings of the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building on cardboard, and that made me an authentic “NYC Artist.”

HOW IT STARTED

As the week went on in the mall, people began to ask me to draw their “enu” and “nako.” That’s cat and dog in Japanese. I had never painted a dog or cat before. I immediately loved painting their funny faces and their expressive eyes. And that’s when I had the realization that: “WOW! This is way more fun than painting the Statue of Liberty nonstop!” And then I thought…maybe this is a career too! When I came home, I began to do pet portraits at Fishs Eddy. Five years later and thousands of pet portraits completed, and so many different animals – donkeys, turtles, bulls, spiders, and even a crab.

WHY THE BLUE BACKGROUND?

I picked that blue for the background because it’s the opposite color of the brown cardboard, and so it has a vibrating effect. I try to leave cracks of cardboard exposed in between the blue background.