Disclosure: Go Gray Artwork is a sponsor of Petful’s Halloween photo contest this year. The artist has generously agreed to provide a really cool prize in our contest, but Petful received no compensation for this article.
Allison Gray started writing for Petful in 2015. Not long after that, I learned that she also paints custom pet portraits.
And she is really good!
Impressed with her portfolio, I asked her for custom pet portraits of my 2 Great Danes, Bruiser and Pinky. My husband and I loved seeing our gentle giants immortalized in such a unique way.
You should definitely check out her work at Go Gray Artwork and consider getting a one-of-a-kind portrait of your pet. The prices are surprisingly affordable, starting as low as under $40 for a custom painting of your pet.
In the exclusive Q&A below, Allison opens up about her work — and her favorite part of the job.
Q&A With Allison Gray, Painter of Custom Pet Portraits
So, Allison, how did you get started with painting custom pet portraits?
I’ve always been an artist — I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t painting or drawing.
When I was living in the Caribbean in the early 2010s, I began painting vintage-style maps on commission. In my spare time, I painted a few memorial pet portraits for friends. They were popular enough that I began getting commissions from other people who’d seen those portraits.
From there, the demand grew until it became a full-time job.
What’s your favorite part of the job — and the worst?
There are a lot of perks: I manage my own schedule, my only co-worker is Banjo, I get to look at pictures of cute dogs and cats, a great majority of my customers are a dream to work with (anyone with experience in customer service can appreciate that), and I get to express my creativity on a professional level daily.
One of the only drawbacks is the anxiety that comes with being a small business owner. While I’d love to spend my workday painting, that’s rarely the case.
I spend hours on correspondence, troubleshooting customers’ concerns, tracking and maintaining inventory, advertising and marketing, managing mountains of paperwork, packaging and shipping and — frustratingly enough — tracking down illegal sales of my work.
In the end, I am a one-woman show, and it’s a lot of work.
Which custom pet portraits are your favorites?
Honestly, I don’t know if I really have a favorite. After a few years of doing this, I’ve painted over 2,000 custom pet portraits — and each one is as unique as the pet who inspired it.
I can’t even say that I have a favorite color scheme! A lot of the natural color portraits are adorable because they so closely resemble the pet.
But at the same time, there’s something about a turquoise and green dog with an orange nose that makes me love the whimsy of multiple colors.
What should people know before requesting a custom pet portrait from you?
Most of my clients enter into a conversation with me having a pretty good idea of what to expect.
If anyone has a question, just send me a message or have a look around my website. I try to make the process simple and clear.
What’s in store for your future?
I never really know. I’m trying to work on some new digital designs (including nursery artwork) for easy print ordering. I anticipate that my business will be taking a little furlough from commissioned art this spring and part of the summer as we welcome a daughter.
Another update for Go Gray Artwork is the return of rescue/shelter fundraising. I started fundraising for nonprofit animal organizations when I first started Go Gray Artwork. I ended up sponsoring 15 different organizations from October 2015 to August 2017 and raised more than $4,500.
I had to stop for basic financial reasons — I had bills to pay, and losing 10% of my income, even for a good cause, just wasn’t possible anymore.
But this winter I will begin fundraising again, with a slightly different plan that will hopefully benefit everyone.
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Please check out Allison’s artwork on her website or on Etsy! One of her gorgeous custom pet portraits would make a great statement on your wall — or an amazing holiday gift for a loved one. You can also find Allison on Instagram or Facebook.