The lighter side of San Diego Pets Magazine
by Barbara A. Fuscsick
06:00 AM, Saturday, March 10
Why Illustrating Dogs for a Livelihood is No Walk in the Park

Now, don't get me wrong...there is nothing I would rather do, with the exception of being a professional traveler like Samantha Brown (sans the camera crew but Travel Channel funded). But just because you love every inch of the creatures, does not necessarily mean you can convey every hair accurately. While I am not a portraiture or trained fine artist, the goal nonetheless, is to put somewhat an accurate rendition of my subject on paper. It needs to resemble a dog, not a pony (as has on occasion horrifyingly occurred.) The company is after all, Puppy Paws, not Horsey Hooves. There are times that the pooches make themselves real in fifteen minutes. Then, there are times the furry kids play hide and seek for three days. So it would be accurate to say, that in creating my pooches, patience and dogged determination are requisites.

Not unique to any artistic endeavor, is the challenge of presenting an expression that is wholly unique or different. I actually find it true though, that there really is nothing new under the, you see this additional dilemma? Now, despite my enjoyable observation of dogs, when it comes right down to it, to capture them for a moment on paper hardly seems to convey the immeasurable joy, playfulness, and loyalty they bring to our lives; much less, their many facial expressions, postures, tail positions, and so forth. So one develops a rather narrow compulsion, an addiction of sorts, to do it again and again and again in the pursuit of expressing everything under the sun you feel about your obsession. Unless you find yourself exclusively in the company of dogophiles, this can be a bit limiting in general conversation.

Another hurdle I face at the drawing board is the reality that the many glorious colors of shiny coats I am pleased to pet cannot always be accurately reflected in the color palette of even the most sophisticated of Prismacolor sets. There are only so many hues of brown, black, gray, and blond colors available. So, I must trust that you will indulge my use of kindred tints and shades.

Now, I don't mean to cast aspersions about my fellow dog aficionados, but I do need to point out a certain elitism that makes it particularly formidable to fulfill my occupation. That is, that your own breed is primarily what you respond to. (Or will prompt your purchase, anyway.) For as much as you may consider yourself an all-around doggy person, my Mutts, simply are not as much in demand as my Scotties. While I appreciate the distinctive difference in breed appearance and some seem to be easier to draw because of those distinctions (Dachshunds, Beagles, Boston Terriers, for example), I always thought that doggy-people were more liberal, if you will, in accepting the EveryDog. One of the most common questions I get is "Do you have a _________ (fill in the breed)?" Would you have asked Georgia O'Keeffe to paint a poinsettia instead of a poppy?

Now people, the American AKC recognizes over 150 main breeds and there are more than 300 breeds in the world, not including the hybrids. I'm drawing as fast as I can. So if you don't yet find your Chinese Crested “Cuddles” represented, shoot me an email and I'll see if I can bump them up to the top of the my yet-to-draw list. Meanwhile, our pack still needs to survive on the present ever-expanding collection. Would it be so terrible to order a card whose breed is not your own? I know you generous dog folks are capable of transcending these prejudicial fences.

To conclude, while not always a walk in the park, the truth of it is, I do what I love, and love what I do. What could be better than that? With that said, I need now to take my company literally to the park for a walk.

Barbara A. Fuscsick is the Founder and Illustrator for Puppy Paws Productions, a whimsical dog note and greeting card company. Her Aussie Mix, Pepper, is her CEO and her Cocker Spaniel, Carmelle, serves as Vice President. For a doggone good time visit her website at While you're there, consider purchasing a card or two. Your Fido-loving friends would love to hear from you.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
November 13, 2011
What you do, Barbara, shows so much creativity! Nothing against Snoopy, Clifford, Marmaduke and the rest, but your art is always fresh and unlimited. Keep up the great work. I envy your talent being able to draw as you do.
November 18, 2011
ktomke - Clearly you are a human being of unsurpassed intelligence and insight and are probably good-lookin' to boot! As Elvis would say - thank you furry much.

Paw-pular Articles