I fell in love with Portraits for Pits on instagram recently. After a quick exchange of a few emails, I also fell head over heels for the couple that started it (and their sweet pup, Olly, of course). Steve and Evie make amazing portraits of dogs (and cats) based off of photos sent from loving owners. They offer digital or printed prints and donate 10% to BADRAP rescue, located near to them in the Bay Area of California. Aside from their amazing work to spread the good truth about pitbulls and help those in need, I love that they started this whole business from a simple idea to have a contest and give away several portraits. When we take action on an idea without worrying what will happen or how it will happen, but just take the action, amazing things happen. After reading their interview, make sure to check out their facebook page and tumblr.
Mustard Seed Co: What's a day in your life like?
Portraits For Pits: Our days start with breakfast and coffee. When you take four years of art school, you learn to love your coffee. We spend most of the day painting digitally at our laptop computers. Sometimes we paint at home and sometimes we go out and work elsewhere. We can be found working on a range of things from pet portraits for Portraits for Pits, to a variety of other freelance and personal projects that we happen upon.
We have a 5 year old, black-and-white pit bull named Ollydog (aka Olly / Oliver / Smally / PrinceOlly / Mr.Olly / AllsBalls / OllyBally/ WiggleButt / PoopFace / GoopGoop / SmooshFace / TheBaby / WrinkleFace / SealDog / WhaleBaby / NakedOrca etc.). We found Olly almost three years ago on Mount Baldy in Los Angeles just after a snow storm. He was standing in the middle of the road, skin and bones, clearly wondering whether we would stop to help him. We lured him towards us with some left over french fries and found that he was wearing a collar with the brand name "Ollydog", but no tags. The park ranger told us that people dump their dogs up there in the wilderness all of the time. We left our number just in case anyone lost him, but no one ever called. Olly is ours until the end of his days and a true daddy's boy.
MSC: What prompted your business?
PFP: We both love Olly and pit bulls in general. Like many, we despise the negative stigma that people have shamelessly branded on pit bulls and other bully breeds like them. Portraits for Pits started as Steve's idea to host an Instagram contest where people could post and hashtag a picture of their pit bull or pit-mix along with a description of their dog's loving disposition or amazing rescue story. Steve and I each painted a series of 10 free portraits for those chosen from the contest entries. This contest was to raise positive awareness about the true nature of pit bulls, but there was a lot of interest and it only made sense to continue with it and donate some of the profits. We of course make portraits for all breeds and cats too with donations going to non-profit bully rescues, Bad Rap being our personal choice. We also continue to share the stories of these dogs so that anyone who views the portraits can not only learn more about their individual personalities and backgrounds, but discover that pit bulls are just as loving and good as any other dog or cat for that matter. We want to be part of the movement that shatters negative stereotypes against these dogs and we want to see an end to BSL (breed specific legislation).
MSC: Is your business/art your full time job? If not, what else do you do? If yes, how long were you doing it before it became full time?
PFP: Portraits for Pits is currently a part-time gig and only 12 weeks old according to our Instagram feed. We currently operate through word-of-mouth, but hope for it to keep growing and see where this takes us. We tend to stay busy either working on other freelance/illustration projects or just our own personal work.
MSC: What would you tell your 20-year old self?
PFP: Well, haha, I'm 25 and Steve is 24 so we have not come too far from 20 just yet and still have a lot to learn and discover.
MSC: What's the worst job you've ever had?
PFP: I have worked a lot in retail and it's just not for me. Steve worked at a pizza place through college and liked it aside from cleaning the restroom after kids parties. I don't know if you've seen that scene from Daddy Daycare, but yeah, that.
check out their Ollydog above, posing with some recent portraits!
MSC: What's the best piece of advice you've ever gotten?
PFP: Beauty and knowledge fades, but character is long lasting.
MSC: What's the hardest part about pursuing a "non-traditional" career? The best part?
PFP: A lot of people will question you and won't really get it. On the flip side, you're probably a lot happier than those people.
MSC: What inspires you?
PFP: Artistically, we each get a healthy dose of fresh art from the blogs we subscribe to. Both of us went to school studying Visual Development for the entertainment industry such as games and film. Because of that, we "follow" a lot of designers working at places like Pixar, Disney, and Dreamworks as well as independent illustrators all over the world. We also love anything vintage. Steve can't get enough of 60's advertisement illustrations right now. Mostly we just love to see people doing their own thing. It's always nice for us to see people who paint all day for a living, go home and keep painting. This is not just a job, but a passion.
Thank you so much, Steve, Evie and Olly! Remember to check out their amazing art and purchase one for your own pup.