Wild Masterpieces Is Bob Ross Meets Sears Portrait Studio
The artist behind these amazing pet portraits talks special-needs animals and unconventional commissions. P.S. There’s a discount code!
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Hysterical, adorable, and, dare we say it…breathtaking? This is the work of digital collage artist Evan Douglas, the mastermind behind the glitterbomb of kitschy kitty (and puppy) goodness that is Wild Masterpieces. Working out of his home in Arkansas, Douglas combines humor and grandeur to create some of Instagram’s most distinctive and desirable pet portraits.
Where did the idea for Wild Masterpieces come from?
Four years ago, for Christmas, I created a collage for my sister and sister-in-law that showed their dog Bruce hanging out in the Gryffindor common room. It looked like the kind of thing you might see hung over the fireplace in an oil baron’s office. They are obsessed with Bruce and Harry Potter, so they loved it, and the next year I decided to make them another collage. This time, though, I had Bob Ross in mind and as I worked on it, I kept thinking about those ’80s family portraits with the semi-transparent head floating in the background and the family in the front.
Are you a professionally trained artist?
I dabbled a bit in high school and was always interested in mixed media, but we didn’t have too many art classes. Architecture school is where I really developed my eye and learned to use some of the software that ended up being useful for this project.
What are some of your favorite subjects?
I love working with special-needs pets like Chupey and Speck. They tend to have really distinct features, which are what make people like us, in the community, love them that much more, but it also just makes them really interesting subjects for portraits.
How long does it take for you to turn around a custom portrait?
About five days, but things get busy around the big gifting holidays, like Christmas and Valentine’s Day. Because I rely on photos provided by the pet owners, sometimes they are not the highest quality, like if the pet died a long time ago and I’m working with a scan of an old photo. I’ve got tricks to make just about anything work, though. I never want to turn anyone away for sub-optimal photos.
What do you think makes a truly great pet portrait?
A great portrait is one that showcases your pet’s unique personality. That can mean different things for different animals, but whatever it is, the most important thing is to really let that come through.
Do you ever get any unusual requests?
Every now and then I’ll get a turtle, which is just technically difficult because of the shape. I also get commissions from people working at animal sanctuaries, asking for a portrait of their favorite orangutan or alpaca. I love working with alpacas. They have such distinct hairstyles and fun personalities.
Do you have any pets of your own?
I always grew up with pets, but when I moved to Arkansas I went without any for a long time. Now I’m sort of a step-dad to my girlfriend’s two cats. One is a rescue from a shelter and the other one was found in a drainage culvert.
Is adoption something you feel strongly about?
I do, but I try not to judge, because at the end of the day the animal just wants somewhere to be and someone to love them. That said, there are so many animals in shelters who have had a rough time of it and are really in need of security and love, so I think it is always best to start your pet search there. Also, it feels good to help an animal in need.
I got my two cats from a shelter about a month ago. They were surrendered by their previous owner after 14 years and part of why I took them was because I knew they would be hard to place, especially together. I’m so glad I did, though, because they are the sweetest, chillest cats I’ve ever met.
I’m a pretty docile person myself and I find that pets, as they age, get this sort of quiet in them that is really endearing. They take things a little slower and fill their days with a little less. I just love the pace of older animals. And there is something about the way their hair goes grey and their skin changes that makes them so adorable.
Get 15% off a custom Wild Masterpieces pet portrait with the code WILDEST.
Charles Manning is an actor, writer, and fashion/media consultant living in New York City with his two cats, Pumpkin and Bear. Follow him on Instagram @charlesemanning.