South Floridians love their pets. And they are willing to spend a pretty penny on them, too.
That’s part of the reason why pet-centric businesses from boutiques to big box giants do so well.
Wilton Manor’s Dünny Potter got linked up with Chewy.com after a friend said they were hiring artists to paint pet portraits. Potter did a sample for the company and they liked it.
Chewy.com is an online retailer of pet food and pet items. It’s owned by PetSmart, which is headquartered in Dania Beach.
Potter said he started doing three or four pet portraits a week at first. It’s been two years and he’s up to about 10 a week. Dogs and cats are the top request, of course. But Potter has painted a pet snake or two as well.
“The main thing for me is that now every little [pet portrait] I do is practice and fun and can be applied to the other artwork I do,” Potter said.
Pottergrew up in Medellín, Columbia, and said he was always surrounded by a lot of creativity.
His childhood home had art on the walls and there were encyclopedias on everything from Egyptian art to modern art.
Potter’s dabbled in oil painting and other formats and was part of a cooperative with Russian and Ukrainian artists. He paints a variety of nudes featuring men as well.
The former Boeing engineer has been tutoring clients in South Florida in math and Spanish in recent years, but said the increase in business with the pet portraits has him thinking he might be able to drop the tutoring all together at some point. He’d still do his other commissioned art on the side, he said.
“The goal is after the school year is over I’ll go up to 20 [pet portraits] a week,” Potter said.
He also does commissioned pet portraits.
The basic canvas size is six inches by six inches and the cost is $60 for acrylic and $100 for oil. Potter does the paintings in his residence in Wilton Manors.
“Once I get the eyes and the nose, the expression, I can be more liberal with it and have more fun,” Potter said.
The process usually begins with an image the customer sends to him.
“People like to have a portrait of their pet and find it very enduring,” Potter said. “There are moments people will cry when I give them a painting. It’s a way for people to have their pets immortalized.”
As an artist, Potter is connected to The Pet Project in Wilton Manors. He’s donated to them and given them art to auction off. The Pet Project provides a variety of services to pets looking for a home in Broward and Miami-Dade Counties.
“One of my main things is to reach out to people locally,” he said. “People love their pets out here. I’m going to push it more this summer.”
And ever the creative one, Potter said he even has ideas to merge pet portraits with his other art.
“I want to do something different and unique. I’ve thought about a ‘gay men and their dogs’ theme. Not sure how that’s going to look yet though,” he said.
For questions, contact Potter via phone at 206-707-4571, or through his website at ArtByDunny.com. See examples of his pet portraits on his Instagram page at @paintedfurbydunny.