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Your Pet Is a Masterpiece — Turn Them Into an Animalist Portrait

A rendering of your dog? Art doesn’t get finer.

by Avery Felman
December 1, 2022
A black dog sitting in between two men with dog and cat illustrations hung on the wall behind them.
Courtesy of Animalist

Your pet wants you to read our newsletter. (Then give them a treat.)

Quick question: Who has the cutest pet ever? You do, right? Jan van Helleputte knows that feeling all too well, so in 2018, he co-founded Animalist, which specializes in transforming your furry loved one into a unique piece of visual art. The aesthetics are all modern, ranging from minimalist line-drawings to abstract portraiture.

“We definitely noticed an uptick in sales during the pandemic,” he says. Spending more time at home appears to have brought many people closer to their pets and made them realize how much they mean to us. It sure did for us anyway.”

The Wildest spoke with van Helleputte about everything from the dog who inspired Animalist to the country with the most pet-obsessed owners.

a white and brown cat on a table; an Animalist piece

When did you first realize there was a demand for pet portraiture?

The idea came to us a few years ago. Our co-founder, Emil, who happens to be a graphic designer, had just adopted a little Staffy named Peanut. She quickly became the main source of inspiration for Emil’s creations. Soon enough, his entire home was filled with Peanut-inspired art. People would keep saying, “You need to create more of these for other breeds.” So we did! 

How did you arrive at the name, Animalist?

Our original brand name was “Dogmade.” But since we wanted to include cats in the collection, we thought Animalist was more appropriate. And who knows, maybe one day we'll go beyond dogs and cats. At first, we only had around 40 dog breeds. Since then, we have slowly been adding more and more breeds. Today, we’re proud to offer designs for over 200 breeds, including cats.

a black dog; an Animalist illustration of a black dog

You’re based in Sweden, but you have a global customer base. Which country is the most pet-obsessed, in your opinion?

It varies a bit from country to country. In our experience, the U.K. seems to be the most pet-obsessed on this side of the pond. But nothing beats the Americans!

What kind of customer feedback do you get?

The bond we have with our pets is immeasurable. So we’re beyond honored that people pay tribute to their four-legged companions through our art. The most heart-warming feedback we get is from people who describe how their print helps them remember their late pet. We’ve had tears in our eyes on numerous occasions reading these messages.

a small black dog; an Animalist illustration

Did you expect to work in a creative field that involved animals?

The world has changed so much over the past 20 years. Today, one can come up with the craziest idea — like customized art for pet owners — put it out there, and reach people across the planet. It’s truly incredible!

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Avery, editor at The Wildest, and her cat, Chicken

Avery Felman

Avery is an editor at The Wildest. She has written for numerous publications, including Refinery29, BuzzFeed, and V Magazine. She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her fiancé and cat, Chicken, and has high hopes that one of them will let her adopt a dog.