Origin Story: Doggie Drawings
In the early 2000’s I moved from Sydney to Los Angeles to design masked wrestler characters for an animated kids’ TV show that I co-created.
When I adopted Boogie, my blue-eyed Boston Terrier from Boston Buddies - as clicheed as this may sound - this was a turning point in my life and career. I found myself drawing Boogie obsessively, and people wanted me to draw their dogs too. I have now drawn thousands of dogs, many cats, a couple of pigs, turtles, and birds. The joy that these portraits bring to my clients is what motivates me to keep doing what I do. "Can you get rid of the grey, and make him a little skinnier?" "Can he be dressed like Sherlock Holmes?" "Can she be driving a 1965 Volvo?” Of course!
What I didn’t know when I adopted Boogie was that he would put a hole in my building manager’s leg, almost have me evicted from my home, and start me on an educational journey about dog emotions and behaviors. At first, I misunderstood Boogie’s aggressive behavior, and did a lot of things wrong. I used methods that made him more fearful and more aggressive towards unfamiliar people and dogs. When the world of dog body language and positive reinforcement-based training methods opened up to me, the difference this knowledge made to Boogie and our relationship was something worth telling the world about. My drawings has led to amazing opportunities, like working on animal welfare and dog bite prevention programs with progressive animal trainers and behaviorists, including the late Dr. Sophia Yin and the inspiring Dr. Susan Friedman.
In 2014, a passion project (Dogs of the World) that I had stayed up till 3am every night for many months working on, went viral on the internet. The bad news: copyright infringements and lawsuits, and an education on artist’s rights and in defining how my work is to be used and by whom. Hello, adulting! The good news: Dogs of the World led to exciting new products, collaborations, and licensing partnerships. Knowing that my work is valuable motivates me to create more art and products for my customers.
I really couldn't tell you what Doggie Drawings will be when it grows up. I don't know where this journey will take me. I am learning as I go along, and as long as we are all still enjoying the ride, there will always be illustrations and gifts for dog nerds and animal lovers worldwide.