My Pet Portrait Journey from Start to End

Welcome back to Bethanie’s Place! Finally I have an arty post to share with you. Today I’m going to be taking a look at some of my favourite pet portraits, my final commission, and talking a little about why it was my final pet portrait.

I started drawing pet portraits after we adopted our dog Foxy. The pencil drawing below is my very first sketch of Foxy asleep on our sofa. Foxy’s foster mum saw my drawing and asked if I could draw her dog, one of Foxy’s favourite foster brothers, and I simply couldn’t refuse. The ink drawing below is of Foxy’s foster brother, and was my very first requested drawing!

Following those initial drawings I drew a portrait as a surprise for both my dad and my brother, and it wasn’t long before friends who saw these drawings started to request pet portraits. It was at this point that I started to charge. My mother-in-law commissioned a portrait for her neighbour if their German Shepard, and I received a handful of cat portrait commissions. Here are some of those commissions, it was through these commissions that I realised how much more I loved drawing cats than dogs.

I did a couple more ink pet portraits, but as I wasn’t actively promoting or trying to build a business around them they were few and far between, which worked perfectly for me. My last couple of ink portraits were some of my favourites, and the love I received from the customers made them all the more enjoyable.

Between my last ink pet portrait and my first digital pet portrait lockdown kicked in. I hadn’t taken on any commissions for a while, and I hadn’t done all that much drawing either. I drew a silly picture of my cats on donuts in space, and then did a few other fun drawings and when I began to see my development and digital drawing improve I started to feel much more confident about offering pet portrait services again. I drew my best friend’s cat on a cake and my dad’s dog on a pizza. My dad asked for a print of the Pizza Queen and everything kind of took off from there.

When I moved over to Twitter to promote properly I got a lot of interest in my pet portraits. Here are some of my favourite pieces I created for customers.

When lockdown ended and I started to work more in my day to day job I had to take on less artistic work. As the commissions slowed down my art print and sticker sales started to grow. My commission anxiety began to worsen and the pet portraits that I did take on took a greater toll on my mental health. This is why I decided that this portrait would be my last. How cute are these two fluffs? As much as I loved drawing these cuties, I was so relieved when I sent the final copy to the customer.

Be it just for now, or forever, I can’t honestly say. The way I feel at the moment I am done with commissions forever. When I first started my funny digital pieces with pets on food I was having a blast, but the more commissions I received the less fun they got. Pet portraits had become a job, something that in equal amounts gave me confidence and great anxiety.

Knowing that people were willing to pay for me to draw their pet was an incredible feeling, and this was what sparked the move into selling prints of my work. The difference between selling pre-drawn designs and commissions is that when people click to buy a print they can see what they’re buying. Print customers are telling me there and then that they like and want that art, whereas with commissions I don’t know if the customer likes it until after I’ve spent hours drawing. At the point of sending a drawing to a customer for final proofing before sending it off to be printed there’s the chance they won’t be happy with it as it is, and that possibility is what brings so much anxiety.

The anxiety of commissions is something I have worked through every single time I have taken one on, but I’ve found myself asking, why should I? Since starting to sell my prints I’ve realised that there is a demand for my art and my original ideas. If I promote well and consistently I can make sales equivalent to and beyond my pet portrait commissions, and each order brings so much less anxiety than a commission would. I love packing up and seeing my art off to new homes around the world. Through spending my time working stress free on my original art I can continue to grow Bethanie’s Place and my drawing skills.

So, that’s what’s next for me. More original art, and a wider range of products at Bethanie’s Place. I’m so excited to bring all of the ideas in my mind to life and offer them to my audience. When I declared my last pet portrait as my final commission I felt such a huge weight lift, and I’m feeling a renewed motivation to create and design. I’ll also have more time to work on blog posts and to create fun content to both read and watch!

Thank you so much for joining me here today. I’d love to know which of the portraits was your favourite, drop a comment or pop over to my Instagram and go give your favourites some love.

See you in the next one!

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