Hey, everybody! I’m AJ, from PupLove.ca.
Jodi’s asked me for a little “back story” on how I got into making pet art, but truth be told, it’s really more of a story on how scattered I am.
I actually went to a special high school here in Toronto that was filled to the brim with creative types.
Most of the students were from out-of-area and had gone through a rigorous testing process and portfolio evaluation for acceptance, and they made the trek in every day to take part in the school’s art program (where half their day was made up of the regular high school classes like English or Math, and the other half was purely filled with art classes… drawing, sculpting, etc.) I, on the other hand, lived about two blocks away and I went there because it was close. I didn’t take a single art class through all of high school, and while all of my friends were extremely talented artists, I didn’t even know I could draw.
I was also one of those kids who had no idea what I wanted to be “when I grew up”.
One day, on a whim, I decided to start making websites. I got a job at a design firm and spent the next seven years buried in HTML and PHP. One of my coworkers had this fantastic portfolio of print work that he’d designed at college, and I longed for a fancy portfolio of my own. So I enrolled in a graphic design program and started paying huge sums of money to do the kind of work that I was already being paid to do. (Makes total sense, right??) The first semester of college was all about going “back to basics”, and we abandoned computers and Photoshop for pencils and paper. I had a fantastic and magical professor named Claire who made us do all sorts of crazy drawing exercises and I started carrying around a sketchbook. I was 25 years old when I discovered that maybe I was a visual artist after all.
I’m still pretty new to the field of art, and I don’t feel like I’ve found “my style” yet.
I’m constantly experimenting… stylized vectors, cartoony illustrations, semi-realistic sketches. I’m all over the map! With so many years as a web designer under my belt (I’m now freelancing, and have been building sites for more than 12 years!), I definitely feel most comfortable working digitally – that’s where my vector pet portraits and digital illustrations in Photoshop come from. But I like to change it up, too. Some days I’ll sit in front of the TV with a pencil and sketchbook in hand; others, I can be found in a room that The Mister and I have dubbed “The Studio-ffice”, sitting at a drafting table and cutting up cardstock to work into a layered paper piece. When I’m feeling fidgety, I’ll get out some clay and work on miniature sculptures, which often take the form of dessert items that I turn into jewelry. (See? Told ya I was scattered!)
Working on “pet art” just seemed to be a natural progression of my experimentation with art styles.
I love dogs so much that I went out and got certification as an obedience trainer and dedicated a website to writing about them – I’m not surprised that I’m inspired by them! When I’m feeling creative and looking for an idea for my next piece, it always seems to be a photo of someone hugging their pet or a picture of a dog with that twinkle in it’s eye that makes me reach for a paint brush or launch Illustrator on my laptop.
I’m somewhat of a “Jack of All Trades”.
Web designer, illustrator, writer – as long as I’m being creative, I’m happy. And if I can create something for someone, and they want to display it in their living room, or wear it around on a t-shirt, or use it as a banner on their website… well, I can’t think of a better perk to my job(s) than creating something that people want to share with the world.
Except maybe that I get to snuggle Jack while I work.
Are thinking of fancying up your website or blog? AJ does fantastic, amazing web designs as well! (See her work in action at Rescued Insanity!) She’s even offering you pet people a great summer special! Check it out and plan your blog makeover today!)