If you believe your bougie poodle is a reincarnation of Marie Antoinette, or your dashing Doberman is the spirit animal of Game of Thrones hero, Jon Snow, then you better sign your furries up for a pet portrait.
Umhlanga musician Bruce McNabb (member of the heavy metal band, Become the Watcher) left the corporate world to start an online work wear company, while being a single father to his four-year-old daughter, Morgan.
He is also the founder of Pet Portraits, a quaint, online business that started as a quirky birthday present for his brother. “My brother refers to his dog, Billy, as Sir William of Everton. I decided to do a portrait of Billy that represented his name as a birthday present,” says Bruce, who has brought his handsome companion, a two-year-old Schnorkie (Schnauzer cross Yorkie) named Duke along for our coffee meeting.
Never did Bruce imagine that he would suddenly be flooded with requests for similar ‘pet portraits’. After doing a little research Bruce realised that no one in South Africa did these kinds of portraits and this was a gap for him to take. “I have always wanted to start a fun business as a hobby and this was the perfect opportunity.”
Luckily, having a portrait made does not require your pet to sit still and majestically stare into the distance while being painted. Instead, you simply pop to their website, choose the body style that you think best suits your pooch’s personality, submit the name and send through three different head shots of your pet. “I work with two designers and together we create the digital artwork. We like to make each portrait unique, so we sometimes tweak the body a bit and then choose the head shot that we feel best represents your pet.”
The next step is the frame – an important feature to complete the look. “You can’t have a renaissance painting with a modern frame. I highly recommend going for a vintage frame look.” Once the portrait is complete, it is packaged and sent to the doting dog owner or ‘cat servant’, as Bruce says refers to them after having done a portrait of two elegant cats, transforming them into a king and a knight. They even did a portrait for a celebrity pet, Bowie, whose mom is ECR presenter Jane Linley-Thomas. A second portrait has already been commissioned by the extra-ordinary radio personality. “It’s really great to see clients returning for more portraits. We are currently working on new themes to keep the experience fresh and exciting. Our new Game of Bones theme has been quite a hit. We have already done a Cersei Lannister and a Jon Snow.”
What he loves most about the little business is how happy it makes his clients. “People love their pets and seeing how much they enjoy the portraits of their pets is so satisfying for me. It is a real feel-good little business. It is often quite emotional too, especially if people have made the portrait as a tribute to their pet once they have passed away. It immortalises them in the home.”
Details: www.petportraits.co.za or Instagram: @petportraitssa
Text: Elana Wagner