Misato Sano ensures that she always has a loyal companion by her side, albeit with a little less slobber and fur. Based in the Myagi prefecture of Japan, the sculptor carves wooden busts and full figures of well-groomed dogs, preferring to leave the small gouges from her chisel on their textured exteriors. Despite being stationary, the pups have typical canine qualities like plump bodies, panting tongues, and pink bows adorning their ears.
Each figure has a distinct facial expression, whether curious, joyful, or contemplative. “When I make a work, I express the multifacetedness of a woman (myself and an object of admiration) as a dog,” she said in a statement. “Dogs are always loyal to their masters. I make my work with the hope (that) they will also nuzzle up to their audience.”
To dive deeper into Sano’s process and see some of the real-life canines that inspire her sculptural works, head to Instagram, and check out her forays in ceramics, embroidery, and drawing on her site. You also might enjoy these carved pets by Gerard Mas.
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Swirling patches of fur and bespeckled eyes characterize the emotive dogs in Marina Okhromenko’s digital illustrations. Hoping to capture varying degrees of joy, devotion, and adoration, the Moscow-based illustrator depicts twelve dogs wearing different expressions, each distinguished through their eagerness and the intensity of their stares. One pup curiously pushes its nose through a pale blue gap, while another’s tongue hangs from its mouth as it pants.
In an interview with Adobe Create, Okhromenko talked about her lifelong love for experimenting with color combinations. “As a child, my favorite toy was a kaleidoscope—you take and mix different colored pieces, and the result is always beautiful. A similar aesthetic in my work is my unique voice,” she said.
Okhromenko is also the publisher of ORE Lab, a notebook design company. The expressive portraits were created as part of ORE’s project called arTTask, which connects art with productivity, an intersection that’s one of Okhromenko’s current obsessions. “We are seeing this more and more as high-tech companies decorate their walls and surrounding spaces with interesting illustrations. In our environment, we call this neuro-office,” she said. “I’m interested in how to design a personal space to combine the simplicity of minimalism with the beauty of fireworks.” To keep up with the illustrator’s vibrant projects, head to Instagram and Behance.
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Typically known for their care-free attitudes, the dogs in Elke Vogelsang’s portraits are experiencing some of their more intense moments of canine anticipation, like waiting for a taste of bacon cream or finding the right time to snatch a squeaky toy. The Hildesheim, Germany-based photographer captures the canine’s fleeting expressions, shown through tilting heads, open-mouthed smiles, and wide-eyed stares. Each piece is matched with an equally playful title, like “The Dog Side of the Force” and “Bessy Muppetational.”
Vogelsang began photographing her three rescue dogs during a period of family hardship that started in 2009—she was charged with caring for her mother-in-law, who was suffering from dementia, shortly before her husband was in a coma due to a ruptured aneurysm. “I decided to start the project, despite my husband being in the hospital, or rather because of it, as I wanted to try to keep up a bit of normality and have something like a visual diary for my husband of that time,” she tells Colossal.
Now, the photographer’s work has expanded beyond the absurd images of her furry family members, and she tries to “get to know as many dogs as possible. Each and every one of them will have their own personality.” She’s traveled to Morocco and Spain to capture the lives of those living in shelters and on the streets, which has posed unique challenges. She “had to document whatever I was presented with. I couldn’t throw treats or get out a squeaker. Here I have to learn to wait for the decisive moment…These dogs had lived on the streets and didn’t know any basic commands. Those can be very difficult to photograph. ”
In order to get such revealing shots, Vogelsang isn’t afraid to appeal to their canine desires. “With every dog I learn a new trick. The energetic terrier might need action to really enjoy the session, while the sensitive sighthound might prefer a very calm environment and some super treats,” she writes. “The key is patience, trust, repetition and lots and lots of bribery.”
To see more of Vogelsang’s posing pups, head to her Instagram.
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As a follow-up to last year’s wildly successful woodblock-printed matchboxes featuring the questionable decisions of tipsy cats, Ravi Zupa has just released a set of canine designs. Comprised of ten designs, the set includes a Boston Terrier with a high opinion of himself, a loyal hound, and an endearingly self-deprecating pug.
“These are the people in our lives with complicated dispositions and attitudes who never fail to bring
us joy, even when they’re jerks,” Zupa explained in an artist statement. “This new set of matchboxes is an effort to give the overly expressive, stubborn, supportive, unpredictable, confused and self important beings in our lives the recognition they deserve.”
Zupa used oil-based intaglio ink to create the three-color prints, and each one includes a pint-sized certificate of authenticity. The matchboxes can be ordered in the artist’s online shop, along with pre-orders for larger prints of the same designs. You can see more of Zupa’s vintage-inspired and humorous works, ranging from prints to paintings and sculptures, on Instagram.
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Utah-based illustrator Jenna Barton (previously) creates shadowy portraits of animals inspired by her dreams, travels, experiences, and the aesthetic and emotions of the rural environments where she grew up. While she does integrate watercolor into some of her illustrations, Barton’s work is primarily digital. The style she refers to as “magical-realism-animal-gothic” came about around 2017, after she completed her BFA in Illustration and decided to take some time to escape the constraints of school and to focus on art that she cared about.
I hark back a lot to my childhood in Idaho, as well as looking to my current environment in Utah, to inform my work. I’d like to capture the strange emotions that I always felt in rural and empty places, and the daydreams I’ve had there. It’s those liminal spaces that I like best, and I’m interested in the structures that bring the human world into nature—radio towers, houses, power lines—especially in the absence of humans themselves.
Barton tells Colossal that many of her subjects are mammals because they share traits with humans, “while at the same time existing in a very different world from them.” Lurking big cats and silhouetted dogs and deer stare blankly with white eyes and stoic postures against relatively simple backgrounds—a window, a staircase, clouds—which give the illustrations a sense of mystery. “Animals with elegant silhouettes, like canines and deer, are special favorites for their graceful looks and sense of motion,” Barton explains. “I give most of my subjects glowing white eyes to indicate the presence of a supernatural element and to suggest that the figures pictured are something between animals and spirits, or gods.”
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Photographer Winnie Au Captures the Unique Personalities of Dogs Adorned in Sculptural ‘Cones of Shame’
Any person who’s been within shouting distance of a dog owner has probably heard the term “cone of shame,” a euphemism for the medically prescribed devices that dogs must sometimes wear. The cones, traditionally uncomfortable and made of stiff plastic, keeps dogs away from their post-surgery stitches or bothersome skin conditions.
Photographer and dog mom Winnie Au sought to flip the narrative on these puppy-eyes-inducing devices by showcasing dogs in a variety of delightfully frilly and fluffy cones. The photo series, Cone of Shame, complements each canine’s body type, fur, and personality with handcrafted cones by costume designer Marie-Yan Morvan.
Au shares with Colossal that the featured dogs were cast from all over New York, as she and Morvan sought to discover interesting looking dogs, and also match canines to pre-existing cone concepts. The pair worked collaboratively to draw from Au’s loose ideas like “sea urchin” or “cotton candy,” and homed in on feasible designs and materials. Textured cones were formed from feathers, egg shells, and straws, and sleek designs were made with faux flower petals and makeup application wedges.
“When I concepted this series, it was meant to be more abstract and less straightforward portraiture,” the photographer explains. “So when I looked at the dogs, I would look at their fur as one element, the backdrop color as another element, and then the cone style would be the final element. The goal was to put the pieces together like an abstract painting and make sure the colors and tones worked in symmetry with each other.”
Au has just released the “Cone of Shame” images in note card format, as part of a Kickstarter campaign that supports Animal Haven’s Recovery Road fund. You can follow Winnie Au and Marie-Yan Morvan on Instagram.
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Gerrard Gethings has captured a lot of personalities as an animal photographer, including his own canine muse Baxter. Therefore when he began shooting his latest series that paired humans and look-alike dog breeds, it would only make sense that he would first focus on finding the perfect animal models before locating matching humans. For the memory game Do You Look Like Your Dog? Gethings spent a year creating images that examine the classic trope of owners looking just like their canine friends. The new game presents 25 matches, which include a long-haired Afghan and equally silky-haired owner, a messy-haired kid and his scruffy puppy, and Schnauzer with a matching beard to his leather jacket-clad owner. You can now purchase the memory game through Laurence King, and see more of Gethings’s animal portraiture on Instagram.
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