18" x 24" Painting of two dogs on a boat

How to choose a pet portrait artist

So you’ve decided to memorialize your fur baby or give someone a unique gift by getting a pet portrait created! This is such a fun and meaningful gift to yourself or someone special, so it’s important you consider your options when searching for a pet portrait artist. I’ve put together some tips and considerations to make sure you get the most out of this project and end up with a pet portrait that you love.

What style of pet portrait do you want?

  • Fine art pet portrait painting or drawing: Artists offering pet paintings/drawings most commonly work with oil, acrylic, or watercolor paints, others draw with colored pencils, charcoal or pastels. Working from photos you provide, they’ll create a likeness of your dog or cat on canvas, paper or other appropriate material for the medium they work with. Due to the hand-made nature and varied techniques of fine art, each artist will have a different style or “voice” that characterizes their work. It’s important that you choose a pet portrait artist with a style that resonates with your own taste. I create acrylic pet portrait paintings on canvas and typically work in bright colors. I love to tell a story with dramatic colors and bold strokes. Colorful dog paintings are my specialty, so if someone wanted a portrait with muted colors and soft strokes, I might recommend they look for an artist that specializes in realistic colors.
  • Digital pet portrait – a popular and newer form of pet portrait is created on computers and tablets in a digital format. Some fine artists also provide this option as a quicker and less expensive option to a traditional painting or drawing. Graphic art software can mimic many artistic mediums and textures, and skilled digital pet portrait artists create amazing images that can be emailed, allowing you to print in whatever size you desire.
  • Pet portrait photography – There are many photographers that specialize in pet portraits. Some will offer a studio setting you bring your pet to, while others may come to your home or meet you in a natural outdoor setting. They are skilled in working with animals, and know how to capture your pet in poses and expressions that display their personalities. Just as with other fine artists that have a unique style of their own, there is a great variance in photography styles, so review the photographer’s portfolio to make sure their work matches the look you are going for.

 

How much do pet portraits cost?

The cost of pet portraits will vary significantly depending on what style you prefer, the size, and how experienced the artist or photographer is. Digital pet portraits are likely to be the least expensive as they require less time and materials, and the final product might be a digital file with which you can choose to print yourself or have printed professionally at an additional cost. Additionally, if you are working with a modest budget, consider finding an emerging artist or art student who is building their portfolio that may be willing to work for greatly discounted costs. Even with experienced artists and photographers, prices range widely and there isn’t a rhyme or reason to the price ranges you may encounter. It’s highly personal to the artist and pricing is often determined by their own unique economic circumstances.

3 piece pet portrait paintings

How long do pet portraits take to complete?

The time it takes for pet portraits also varies greatly on the type of portrait you choose and the demand for the artist producing it. This is an important consideration in selecting a pet portrait artist if you are planning the commissioned painting as a gift for a special occasion like Christmas or a birthday. While the project itself may only take several hours or days to complete, portrait artists and pet photographers may already have several orders they are working on that must be completed before yours.

Additionally, not all artists work full time making art (holla!). Many may have full time jobs and must create their artwork in their free time, limiting the volume of work they can complete on short notice. I typically have a 2-3 month turnaround time, though that has been longer this year due to higher time and energy demands at my day job.

Finally, commissioned artwork can be demanding for the artist, and may conflict with their innate need to create unique and original work without any creative requirements, so many will only take art commissions during specific time periods, so they can reserve other time for focusing on their own artwork for a gallery exhibit, art shows, or an Etsy shop. So as soon as you think you might be interested in a commissioned pet portrait, begin your research to select an artist that can work within your time frame.

Pet portrait painting

Can I trust a pet portrait artist I find on the Internet?

If you are researching pet portrait artists to work with, you may be Googling or searching through Pinterest to find examples of their work, pricing, and contact information. It can be worrisome to work with a complete stranger over the Internet, especially if a deposit is required to secure the art commission order (which is very common practice). Here are some easy ways to gain peace of mind about who you are considering hiring for your pet portrait commission:

  • Find and follow their social media profiles on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest, to see if they are sharing examples and stories about their work for other clients.
  • Email and ask them for examples of their recent work if they don’t have online portfolios.
  • If making a deposit or payment for the work, only use payment processors like PayPal and/or your credit card (rather than Venmo or cash/checks), so you can dispute the payment. PayPal and credit card companies usually offer buyer protection and will help fight fraudulent charges.

 

While these are some things to think about as you consider commissioning someone to do a pet portrait, overall it should be a fun and memorable project. Most pet portrait artists love animals, so talk to a few and find someone who’s style and personality you like. If you have any other questions about finding a pet portrait artist, or would like to chat with me about my work, please, contact me. I’d love to chat with you on a project or help you in your search!

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