GOOD

Five Artists Who Jump Started Their Careers With Inspiration From Their Pets

This 10-part series is brought to you in partnership with Purina ONE®. These stories highlight how pets have provided creative inspiration in...


This series is brought to you in partnership with Purina ONE®. These stories highlight how pets have provided creative inspiration in the worlds of technology, education, business, and beyond. Read more about how pets—and the people who love them—can brighten lives and strengthen our communities at the GOOD Pets hub.

If you’re a fan of fine art, you may have seen David Hockney, Pablo Picasso, or Andy Warhol’s pet Dachshunds making recurring appearances in their artwork. However, did you know that some artists became famous because of their pet-inspired work? Here’s how five artists rose to the top, with some help from their furry friends.


William Wegman and Man Ray the Weimaraner


Photos via William Wegman

You most likely are familiar with the Weimaraner breed through William Wegman’s video art and photography. Or, maybe you only know about the artist because of the Weimaraner dog. But do you know the story behind Wegman’s signature work with this breed? In the studio, he found that his Weimaraner puppy Man Ray wouldn’t let him be productive unless he paid attention to him. So Wegman developed a way of vocally communicating with Man Ray, which led to making comical art videos featuring the puppy. When his second dog Fay Ray came into his life, he noticed she responded to his gestures, so he started making video art that involved her watching him build or make things. Now, Wegman is the proud pet owner of other Weimaraner puppies and dogs, whom he dresses up in costumes, sometimes as human characters. His work has been displayed in art museums around the world, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Hammer Museum, and the Smithsonian. And now, he’s adding another book to his children’s series entitled “Flo and Wendell,” featuring two Weimaraner puppies.

George Rodrigue and Tiffany the Terrier-Spaniel Mix


Images via Wendy Rodrigue

Much like Wegman’s work, the Blue Dog is an iconic symbol that you may recognize. But do you know the story behind the wide-eyed blue dog? Artist George Rodrigue started painting after he was diagnosed with polio in third grade. Eventually winning local recognition for his landscape paintings and portraits years later in his hometown of New Iberia, Louisiana, Rodrigue was commissioned by a Baton Rouge investment group to create illustrations revolving around regional myths and legends. One story he illustrated was about the loup-garou, a ghostly French werewolf said to guard houses, who symbolized the importance of having a sense of right and wrong. Wanting inspiration for the image of the werewolf, he turned to photographs of his family’s terrier-Spaniel mix Tiffany, who had been a loyal studio companion. However, rather than making his work a commemoration of Tiffany, Rodrigue made his painting and now well-known “Blue Dog” series more about the legend surrounding the loup-garou. Rodrigue will now be honored for his pop icon with an Opus Award on October 26, 2013.

Theron Humphrey and Maddie the Coonhound

Photos via TheronHumphrey.com

Photos of Maddie the Coonhound have been shared many times over on social media including Instagram and Tumblr, but do you know about the artist who owns her? During a 365-day photojournalism project called “This Wild Idea,” photographer Theron Humphrey took his adopted dog from Atlanta, Georgia, all the way across the United States, documenting regular people’s life stories. And, as he traveled, he noticed that Maddie had a keen ability to balance on top of things. Photos of her on top of a giant watermelon, two tree branches, and a basketball hoop went viral, so he catalogued all of them in his popular blog, which led to his book called “Maddie on Things.” Now, he’s traveling across America again in partnership with Purina ONE, to document the stories of people and their adopted pets in a series entitled “Why We Rescue,” showing not only the value of shelter pets, but also an appreciation for Maddie as a source of inspiration.

Mike Bridavsky and Lil Bub the Cat


Photos via Instagram @iamlilbub (left) and @carli_davidson (right).

Mike Bridavsky, owner of Russian Recordings in Bloomington, Indiana, has mixed and produced CDs for musicians like Rogue Wave, and comedians Sarah Silverman, Tig Notaro, and Todd Glass. Being a busy man with four cats, he wasn’t prepared to add another into his life until he saw a picture of a stray kitten born in a shed that needed a home. Now known as Lil Bub, whom he describes as “a real magic woman space cat,” she rose to fame when Bridavsky posted one picture of her on Facebook. Born with feline dwarfism, Lil Bub has shortened limbs, a long body, opposable thumbs, human-like eyes, and weighs only four pounds. To add to her unique look, she has an underdeveloped jaw that causes her tongue to stick out. But, she’s surprisingly healthy and it’s no surprise that with such a strong community of cat lovers on the internet, she has gone from lots of likes on Tumblr posts to having her own clothing line, talk show on Revision 3, and joining the ranks of other meme sensations like Grumpy Cat, Nyan Cat, and Keyboard Cat in a full-length film by Vice about pet fame. She and Bridavsky have also collaborated on a book to celebrate her photogenic qualities.

Seth Casteel and Buster the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel


Photo via LittleFriendsPhoto.com

Seth Casteel started as a volunteer photographer for shelter pets in 2007. Seeing that his photos were helping dogs get adopted, he developed a career as a lifestyle pet photographer. His work became most well-known in 2010 when he noticed one Cavalier King Charles Spaniel he was photographing preferred to be in the pool more than on land. So, Casteel jumped in the water to take some pictures. Now, his series of Underwater Dogs have been exhibited around the world and published in the National Geographic and New York Times. He’s also written the best selling photography book of 2012. Still serving pets in need of homes, Casteel teaches shelters how to take photographs across the United States, Europe, Australia, and Indonesia.

Articles
via Apple

When the iPhone 11 debuted on September 10, it was met with less enthusiasm than the usual iPhone release. A lot of techies are holding off purchasing the latest gadget until Apple releases a phone with 5G technology.

Major US phone carriers have yet to build out the infrastructure necessary to provide a consistent 5G experience, so Apple didn't feel it necessary to integrate the technology into its latest iPhone.

A dramatic new feature on the iPhone 11 Pro is its three camera lenses. The three lenses give users the the original wide, plus ultrawide and telephoto options.

Keep Reading Show less
Health
"IMG_0846" by Adrienne Campbell is licensed under CC BY 2.0

In an effort to avoid a dystopian sci-fi future where Artificial Intelligence knows pretty much everything about you, and a team of cops led by Tom Cruise run around arresting people for crimes they did not commit because of bad predictive analysis; Bernie Sanders and other Democratic candidates have some proposals on how we can stop it.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture
Photo by Thomas Kelley on Unsplash

It's fun to go to a party, talk to strangers, and try to guess where they're from just by their accents and use of language. It's called 'soda' on the East Coast and 'pop' in the Midwest, right? Well, it looks like a new study has been able to determine where a Humpback whale has been and who he's been hanging out with during his awesome travels just from his song.

Keep Reading Show less
Science
Governor Grethcen Whitmer / Twitter

In 2009, the U.S. government paid $50 billion to bail out Detroit-based automaker General Motors. In the end, the government would end up losing $11.2 billion on the deal.

Government efforts saved 1.5 million jobs in the United States and a sizable portion of an industry that helped define America in the twentieth century.

As part of the auto industry's upheaval in the wake of the Great Recession, the United Automobile Workers (UAW) made sacrifices in contracts to help put the company on a solid footing after the government bailout.

Keep Reading Show less
via Jimmy Kimmel / YouTube

Fake news is rampant on the internet. Unscrupulous websites are encouraged to create misleading stories about political figures because they get clicks.

A study published by Science Advances found that elderly conservatives are, by far, the worst spearders of fake news. Ultra conservatives over the age of 65 shared about seven times more fake information on social media than moderates and super liberals during the 2016 election.

Get ready for things to get worse.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture