So – this is a calendar – but not any ordinary calendar. See, I, Chrissy McYoung of Hairy Phish, was at a crossroads in my life. I had just finished my social work degree and was awaiting my grades and certificate—I was bored and in need of a project and direction. I wanted to be an illustrator but struggled to navigate the quite competitive industry; I was self-publishing here and there, but with no interest from publishers.
So, after watching a few youtube videos – I came across one called “The advice that changed my life” by struthless.
And that advice? Draw the same thing every day for a year. Really, that’s the best advice?! The theory behind it was that by limiting the subject matter and forcing art to be a daily project, the art and the voice of what you want to produce will come through, the subject matter becomes irrelevant.
I gave it a go and chose a topic: dogs. And so this project started.
With my little Facebook fan page of about 600 followers, I drew my first dog, an infographic—nothing special.
More info: Facebook
Infographics are fun
This first image was nothing special, but a fun and simple homage to puppies.
Now that’s a bowl of dog food
No. 2 was less dog and more detail. Chrissy looked back on some of her favorite complex books and find-a-picture work (like Wheres Wally, Richard Fowler, Graeme Base).
This was a little bit infographic and a little bit fun.
Anatomical Puppy. Ooh, what’s inside that pooch
This work was a homage to my final uni subject (anatomical and medical illustration). I procrastinated through the course by not doing the project work, but creating cartoons of dog’s insides!
This piece began brought in the idea of a wheres wally theme, and with comments on her Facebook posts of fans wanting their dogs to be apart of the fun – she decided to change direction.
So, dogs are a global phenomenon?
For this piece, Chrissy put a call out for all her fans to post their puppies. This creates a huge sense of joy and drew on her social work background – as along with pictures – came stories – sad stories, funny stories, and most of all – an overwhelming heartwarming sense of love that the fans had for their dogs.
I think I need a holiday
This piece featured 22 beloved puppies and with it was born the idea that the work should have a lot of fun and humor.
With this work taking over 12 hrs-I began to move into a stage where the art was no longer just for fun and pleasure but she began learning the art of disciplined drawing, pushing through mental blocks and tiredness, frustration, and fatigue.
The carrot that kept her motivated? Those amazing, supportive, and excited fans – anticipating their celebrated puppies.
How bout a day at the beach?
Oh, the complexity.
A day at the beach brought on a huge influx of puppy fans looking to be featured.
This work was inspired by local Newcastle artist – Mitch Revs – and his amazing beach scenes.
The first fan led image: Service Dogs
This image was a request of a service dog owner. She wanted the work of the humble service dog to be celebrated.
Fan-led: Puppies over the rainbow bridge
A reoccurring theme across the stories of the fans was that of loss. For every dog owner that had a pup – there were the brothers and sisters that had come before them and moved on.
Sad stories of puppies lost too soon and lifelong best friends were celebrated and remembered.
By image 9, I decided what am I going to do with all these pictures. Besides selling prints, I decided to make a calendar—a small project, with not as much commitment as a book!
If it’s going to be a calendar, I needed to celebrate all the festivals and events in the year.
23 festivals celebrated with 27 pooches!
Dogs of the elements
Another image came about through fan requests.
The puppy in the bottom corner is a rescue dog – finding koalas after the bushfires. I wanted to feature him as such a brave and unique dog.. and so was born the pus of the elements. We all know dogs that love the wind, water, and earth.
The city is overrun with puppies
This epic piece was a 17hr labor of love
By now I was feeling quite at home with the large and detailed projects.
Looking back over the previous work I felt a humbling sense of pride. My work had improved and my goals were being reached.
And with a beautiful fan base, my dream of growing my illustration business was becoming a real thing.
This image was a homage to Australia and the outback. After living on a sheep farm and returning to the city, it was necessary to capture for the calendar.
As the final image for the calendar/project – it’s a bit of a symbol of the beginning of a new chapter of drawing and a wonderful supportive fan base of crazy dog lovers.
The project celebrated almost 400 dogs – with some repeat offenders who have connected dog lovers and from it was born a love of collaborative, community-driven art.
The project cover was a huge collaboration – with over 70 dogs.
I was determined to include all the people that supplied pics, which meant there was a massive overflow.
Hope you enjoyed this project.
If you liked it and would like to be included in future works. Follow me on Facebook at Hairy Phish.
The post I Started A Collaborative Project Drawing Fan’s Dogs, And It Births My Passion For Fan-Driven Puppy Art first appeared on Bored Panda.