The beauty of getting older is doing whatever you want with your time. For John Thompson, it’s sitting on his Mac in the wee hours of the morning and “doodling away.” At 74-years-old John’s the Digital Pet Artist. A full-time job he calls “made in heaven,” he takes pictures of your beloved fur babies and creates lively portraits to adore and adorn your home. It was a pleasure sharing a little time with John as we talked about his art, and what’s to come.
Kendra: Did you have a pet growing up that got you interested in drawing?
John Thompson: Yes, always had pets around me, even volunteered at the local RSPCA at the age of 12. I had dogs, cats, rabbits, pigeons always around during my childhood but I never got started in the creative world until the advent of the internet which drew me in. The apps that could help creativity online blew me away.
Kendra: When did you put your talent to work and start the Digital Pet Artist business?
John Thompson: I would say seriously around 1999. Being an animal lover drew me into animal art. Human art never interested me, but I loved playing around with symmetry such as buildings. Animals offer so much variation in the way they can be depicted. I could digitally paint the same animal 20 times and they would all be totally different. I don’t regard myself as a painter as I create with the computer. Photoshop, Illustrator, Lightroom and many other fantastic applications. I did teach digital art and in particular Photoshop at College and also taught the graphic workers at a UK national newspaper; The Independent.
Kendra: Your pieces are wonderful, colorful recreations of pictures people send in of their pets. When it comes to the color palette, do you have certain colors you always use or do you kind of play it by ear with each new pet?
John Thompson: Thank you for the compliments. My color palettes have no boundaries. I have digitally painted all black dogs without any color variations meaning there is more emphasis on the light and shadow. Mostly, though I ‘wing it’ and if it looks good then I go with it.
Kendra: Have you ever considered drawing other things? Like pop culture related items? Like Marvel characters and whatnot?
John Thompson: No, I stick strictly to animals. I have worked on elephants, birds, foxes, you name it. I even had two commissions from zoos to create a seal artwork.
Kendra: Right now people can head to your site, submit their pet, and get either a digital copy they print, a poster, or a canvas. Because of that, do ever head out to art shows and advertise your skills and perhaps do portraits on the spot?
John Thompson: OMG no, too much energy required! Sitting at home with my two gorgeous cats, MaeMae the Maine Coon and Moki the Siamese, working on a new project is just wonderful.
Kendra: What can people be on the lookout for from you? More portraits?
John Thompson: I am always looking at ways of offering different types of artwork. Thinking of hooking up with a small animal charity to help. Personalized greeting cards and coasters/placemats may be on the horizon.