Five pet-themed creative projects guaranteed to delightfully disrupt your day
It’s time to take a walk with imaginary dachshunds, sub-aquatic bunnies and loveable rescue chickens, seen through the eyes of five creatives inspired by the ultimate muse: pets.
- Liz Gorny
- 28 September 2022
Over the years at It’s Nice That, some of our (and your) favourite creative projects have been about pets. But we’re wondering if there’s something in the water other than the unadulterated cuteness of these projects, splashing about like a large Bernese. In the commercial world, brands know the power pets have on their owners, turning to the modelling capabilities of cats and corgis and designing actual pet-friendly furniture collections. On the personal side of things, though, pets often seem to inspire the freest art projects – a sign of the creative fun animals tend to tease out in us humans.
With such a wealth of projects at our fingertips, we thought it was the perfect opportunity to revisit some of our favourites. From illustrated books inspired by dachshunds to ramen saddles for dogs, here are the most loveable, hilarious and downright heartwarming projects to remind you of the creative power of pets – even when they scratch up your sofa arm beyond repair.
How could we not return to Jooyoung Kim’s wonderful work illustrating one long boi living in a world full of short bois? Though Jooyoung released this book back in 2019, it still sticks in our heads for its joyful fusion of simple linework, comforting storytelling and brilliant depiction of dogs.
Titled Welcome to My Life, Jooyoung’s inspiration for the story came from a summer she spent with a dachshund called Kami. During our chat in 2019 with the illustrator, she told us about experiencing a sense of peace getting to know the dog while pet sitting for her friend. It is exactly this sense of bliss that audiences can expect from Welcome to My Life. Showing a stretched-out sausage dog undertaking hilariously run-of-the-mill jobs, the book follows our protagonist living an understated life up a hill. Never planned as a fully-fledged book, Jooyoung’s work is also a perfect example of the potential that can unfurl from letting loose with some funny sketches of a dog, drawn on a whim.
Pets as artistic collaborators can be a disaster waiting to happen. Any fun-loving pup with too much energy and too little patience can turn a photoshoot into a marathon-long slog of unusable snaps. But this doesn’t, at least it seems, to be the case for Remy, a chiweenie (dachshund-chihuahua cross) whose favourite thing to do is nap. In the work of Rajeev Basu, Remy sits poised and peaceful as the creative director explores a range of silly and, frankly, genius projects.
In 2020, Rajeev unveiled the project Between Two Naps with a collection of high-fashion cushioned helmets modelled by Remy (who apparently feels the cold more than most dogs), and the ideas have only gotten more absurd. Since his helmet experiments, Rajeev has created a ramen saddle for pups and the very first NFT for dogs (or Non-Fungible Twig). With Remy seeming to serve as the ultimate fountain of inspiration, and perfectly patient companion, we can’t wait to see what projects Rajeev dreams up next.
I know what you’re thinking; all this pet-fuelled creativity is great, but what about those of us whose parents, allergic partners or too-small flats mean the prospect of a pet will forever be a distant dream? You’re in good company with illustrator Laon Kim, who has always wanted a pet and never once had one. But in the surreal worlds Laon creates, the restrictions of real-life matter a lot less – and pets are a mainstay.
Not only does Laon’s charming work allow us to spend time with some illustrated animals, but creating pets from her imagination means she depicts them in spectacular and fantastical ways. In one work, a dining table-sized dachshund – that comfortably seats eight at least – welcomes guests to eat cake on its back at a wedding party. Elsewhere, a giant sub-aquatic bunny swims through the ocean, dwarfing a submarine. So if you’ve yet to have a pet of your own, at least let your imagination run wild with Laon’s whimsical experiments with scale.
You know those strange, almost human-like eyes your pet sometimes gives you? The quirks and nuanced facial expressions that only you know? Alice Johnson is the creative who can capture it. While her Pottery Pets project has evolved considerably since we last chatted four years ago, the premise is still the same – the sculptor makes small ceramic replicas of people’s pets, taking commissions from pet owners and animal lovers alike.
When we caught up with the creative recently, asking her to catch us up on years spent fashioning countless miniature paws, Alice attests her aim has “ultimately stayed the same”: her job is done if her sculptures can “put a smile on someone’s face”. The creative adds: “This seems especially poignant now post-pandemic, when the world seems more fragile and turbulent than ever – we need to find and cling onto joy wherever it may be, and I feel very blessed if I can play a minute part in that.” Attempting to create work that will be “treasured forever”, check out Alice’s practice for joy-inducing, spot-on portrayals of pets of all shapes and sizes.
The relationships between owners and pets is the stuff that fuels a thousand meme pages, grooming competitions, magazines, books and, of course, films – Marley & Me, anyone? Trying to capture that intangible type of connection is photographer Megan Eagles who, with her 2021 project London is a Jungle, documents the intimacy between London pet owners and their beloved companions.
From a shot of owner Lorraine with “rescue chicken” Specky to a heartwarming portrait of a soaring parrot, Megan’s series masterfully captures our obsession with our pets. When we chatted with the photographer last year, she explained how relationships are important to her practice as a whole: “I love the intimacy of just you and the subject, spending time with them and hearing people’s stories.” Seeming to have a perfect eye for moments of connection, the photographer reveals profound bonds with London is a Jungle, shining a light on the lasting friendships that exist between humans and animals.
Laon Kim: A Furry Night (Copyright © Laon Kim, 2022)
Jooyoung Kim: Welcome to My Life (Copyright © Jooyoung Kim, 2019)
Rajeev Basu: Ramen Saddle, Midnight (Copyright © Rajeev Basu, 2020)
Alice Johnson: Pottery Pets, Walter (Copyright © Alice Johnson, 2021)
Megan Eagles: London is a Jungle (Copyright © Megan Eagles, 2021)
About the Author
Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating in Film from The University of Bristol, they worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, INDIE magazine and design studio Evermade.