Despite drawing and being involved in art and illustration from a young age, I deliberately chose to major in a non-fine art but still artsy field in college (Interior Design), because I thought I wanted nothing to do with the art world. I found it to be too intimidating for an introvert like myself. After graduation I worked a myriad of jobs, none of which were art related, and none of which I found very fulfilling. It wasn’t until I found out about Etsy in 2013, and decided to put a few of my hand painted mugs and prints up for sale, that I started to seriously consider art as a profession.
Etsy made it easy for me by providing a wall between myself and the harshness of the art world, the “internet wall.” I really needed that anonymity at the time to share my art with the world. My shop has changed a lot from those early days, though my most popular item remains the coffee mug.
As Etsy has rapidly grown, I have had to grow as well. I used to think that being “on trend” was the key to success, but then I realized that all of the mug and print shops were starting to look the same, and commonality was winning over uniqueness. I made the change away from that by focusing on art that made me happy to make. I find that most of my customers are those who have loved ones living far away from themselves and want to give them a gift they can use everyday that reminds them of each other and the importance of that relationship. The most satisfying part of running my Etsy shop is hearing about those kinds of stories via emails and reviews people write me.
I love drawing animals and the relationships we share with them as humans. To me, the bonds I share with my own companion animals (two bunnies), as well as those I happen to meet on the street or a friends house, always seem immediate and lifelong. I am definitely that person who hangs out with the dog all night at a house party.
The innate goodness of animals has always been something I have drawn strength from and drawing them gives me great comfort. I often use the juxtaposition of an innocent animal in an environment where they don’t quite belong, somehwere cold and possibly sinister, to reflect the frustration and awe I feel about fitting into the world around me. I think that my color palette also comes from growing up watching old Ukrainian and Russian cartoons on a fuzzy television, cartoons that were made for children but often had melancholy imagery and a haunting soundtrack that seemed to hang in the air of my childhood in post Soviet Union, Ukraine.
Yuliya Pieletskaya was born in Odessa, Ukraine, but spent the later half of her childhood in upstate New York. She studied design and business at the Fashion Institute of Technology, graduating in 2012 with an A.A.S in Interior Design and a B.S. in Marketing. Since then, alongside working on commissions and freelance illustration work, Yuliya has been designing, making, and selling her own collection of greeting cards, prints and coffee mugs on Etsy. Her illustrations draw on themes of nature, eastern European art, and a love for animals, as well as more mysterious and melancholy themes.
My life has been spent in dedication to bettering my art. When looking at my body of work, one would notice all of the recurring subjects and images. Owls, jellyfish, dragonflies, cicadas, feathers, and bones are only a few of the images that I use to create my compositions. There is purpose to this: each character, each subject, and each image is decorated as a religious figure.
This is where I draw my influence: The importance of religious and cultural art. It’s development and repetition throughout history is what I try to exemplify in my work. By combining different cultural and religious symbols, figures, and patterns with modern schemes and styles I imbue an existential importance to the subject matter.
I have an underlying goal in my life when it comes to my work. I think that legacy is an important concept to any artist, my aspiration for my legacy is a little different from what others may be. If I were buried in a crypt with my body of work and was discovered in the distant future, I would want historians to be able to decipher the narrative and themes hidden in the religion of my work.
Arthur is an artist living in Peoria, Arizona. His art has been featured in exhibitions and publications, including First Fridays Phoenix, Blue Guitar Magazine, and more.
There is so much magic within the eyes of a human being. Sorrow.. pride.. tenderness.. exhaustion, and regret. The eyes hold the truth to what lies within a person. They show which emotions and memories are controlling their mind and their heart.
I realize that it isn’t even photography that I truly love. I realize that my passion is humanity. I have tried photographing landscapes and scenery, but it ultimately seemed forced. There is just something about being able to capture what is going on inside of another human being.
I have been traveling now for some time and just settled down in Austin, TX, where I will continue to try and pursue photography. I am learning that it is a completely different world.
Bailey Toksoz was born into a life in Atlanta, GA, in the United States of America to a mother, father, and an older brother. Now she’s a young 20-something-year-old woman who has a thirst for life and for humanity. Within the last few years she has started writing something each day. She probably has 15 journals scribbled with the most insane and strange, yet passionate thoughts.
Growing up, her family had a dark room in their house. Her mother was a photographer but she never imagined she would be one. Now she welcomes it with open arms, and feeds it with all the captivating sights that this world has to offer.
To most people these pictures don’t mean anything, it’s a simple picture of a dog and they move on with life. To me, these pictures mean the world. World-meet my four legged kids.
Have you ever stopped to think about life from a dogs perspective? You can see in their eyes curiosity and wonder, everything is an experience. We as humans tend to look past the simple things in life but that’s what we should be most appreciative about, the simple things.
Heather is twenty-eight and a Southern girl at heart and has found herself living the California dream. She has always been passionate about animals and being a voice for them. She has two European boxers that have stolen her heart. She enjoys taking pictures of them and exploring their goofy side.
This project is in its beginning stages and will continue over the next nine months, culminating in an exhibition in Ruffin Gallery at the University of Virginia. Elu is the working title for this project. It means “beautiful” in the Native American Zuni language. My most fundamental desire is to create something beautiful that helps people see beauty in the parts of the world involved in my photographs.
This project began with my desire to combine three facets of my life into one artistic project; the world of art, fashion, and animals. That cohesion is continually evolving, and I am very much still in the process of finding out how to achieve that successfully.
The most important part of the image to me is the connection between the animal and person. In order to create each image I find a human and animal who have a relationship. I then put together clothing choices for the individual. I choose clothes and looks that are not outfits that you would wear everyday. As I continue with the project the outfits will evolve in the “avant-garde” direction.
Personally I am attracted to the idea of the wandering, bohemian spirit, and I think that is reflected already in this project. In many ways animals and my involvement in the fashion, art and photography world have provided escapes for me in ways that frees my spirit and feeds a burning wildness I have always felt within me. It is in this project I seek to express and fulfill that wildness by honoring all of the things that give me freedom and happiness in my crazy, wonderful life!
Sienna Turecamo is a 21-year-old student at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA. She is a distinguished Fine Arts major with a concentration in photography. She has lived many places and experienced many walks of life in her short number of years. However, one thing that has remained constant in her life is her own acknowledgment that she was born with the need to create. She has an unwavering desire to bring love, happiness, and beauty to people by showing the ways it exists in us all and in our Earth.
And so, with her camera as a tool, she wishes to dedicate her life to helping others understand their worth and their beauty. It is her goal to portray the inherent good found in the bad, the perfection found in the imperfection, and to capture moments that allow people to see those things or people around them from a different perspective.
As well as being a full time student, she has my own photography business, Sienna Turecamo Photography, in which she photographs everything from weddings, to newborns, to pets. It is important to mention that Sienna is also a signed model, and is very involved in the world of fashion, which influences her photography and art.
The idea behind the pet portraits is to capture not only the beauty in animals, but also their personalities. Each animal is an individual and she treats them as such when drawing. I use colored pencils, acrylic and pens to create each piece. The whole process can take anywhere from six to fifteen hours to complete and is often done over a span of a few days. I pay special attention to the eyes in each drawing. I believe that the key to each personality can be found within the eyes. This led to my series on animal eyes and what environment that each creature views through their own eyes.
Paige’s talents manifested at a very early age, in Northern Nevada. She continued exploring various arts throughout high school and college and was greatly influenced by the open land and wild animals found in Nevada. Both her parents were very influential and supported her goals to become an artist. Since graduating with a BS in Art at the University of Nevada, Reno, Paige has been working as a free-lance artist, specializing in unique pet portraits, and also teaching monthly painting classes for beginners in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Up I-75 to I-24, we had packed our entire lives into the little grey Mazda and sped northwards to the Tennessee-Georgia line. The pine trees and Spanish moss had given way to red-clay earth and flowering Poplars. The changing geography seemed to be the only clue that we had actually gone anywhere. All the buildings and shops composing the small towns told us we could’ve still been Gainesville: A Days Inn here with a Chevron station out front, a Denny’s standing up the street, a mechanic shop square on the corner, just past the flashing yellow light. All seemingly cardboard duplicates of every other town we had passed through. It seemed no matter where we went things were the same. Wherever we went, guaranteed things would be the same.
We were moving to a small town in the very corner of Georgia. A town where Tennessee and Alabama converged into what is still in some circles, a disputed area. My grandparents lived there, in a two-story yellow house nestled on the foot of Sand Mountain. My boyfriend and I had set out to make our own place in the world in a small rural community, hundreds of miles away from the drunken hype of the Florida college town. We dreamed to have our own home. We dreamed of having our own yard, and living a quiet country life. A life that would echo and fade slowly across the green valley, like a banjo tune plucked on a front porch. We were traveling to this small town of Trenton, Ga. to raise our family, myself, Joshua, and our baby, Memphis.
Memphis wailed from his plastic carrier in Joshua’s lap, his canine teeth jutted outwards in wide mouthed protest. He is a short-haired tuxedo cat with gleaming golden eyes. He is also our baby. I got him as a free Craigslist kitten. A strange woman who was a proud member of what had become known as the local “hate church” simply handed him over to me in a sketchy neighborhood; the kind that pizza guys won’t deliver to after dark. She said he was the runt and the last pick of the litter. I could see why. He squirmed angrily in my arms, clawing up my chest and stretching tiny holes into my shirt, trying desperately to get away. A small black fuzz-ball the size of a squirrel, all claws and teeth.
I looked at him, somewhat disappointed. He resembled a long-legged rabid bat more than he resembled the chubby, wobbly kitten image held in my expectations. His eyes were blue then, as all kittens start off that way, but they were small and squinted as if he had a permanent sneer of disgust. His head was triangular shaped with a long snout and disproportionately large ears, contributing to that bat-like appearance. Most noticeably different from that pudgy, calendar-kitten image was his legs. He was comically lanky. His legs seemed considerably longer than his entire body and nearly thin as pencils. Those legs gave him enough range to swat my face as I held him. Despite the scratch, his nasty disposition, and odd looks I took him. Now here he was, months later, yowling and screaming his protest in the passenger seat, making this six-hour trip seem like sixteen.
We had turned off the interstate and cruised through the back roads of a small town. The air smelled of manure from the many pig farms in the area and wet grass from the green pastures that surrounded us. The sun was just starting to set behind the dark silhouettes of Flowering Poplars and White Ash trees. I felt the heaviness of my eyelids with the descent of the sun. Black asphalt soon crumbled away to a dusty clay road and I parked the car before an old wooden-gate. We were supposed to meet up with some traveling family. They were not blood relatives. Truth be told most of them were total strangers, but they were family of like minds. They were the Rainbow Gathering family, a group of homeless travelers, hippies, some vagrants, and other kindred seeking a beggar’s life. A tent in the woods among them, perhaps beside a kitchen camp would be a much welcomed rest, however they were nowhere to be seen. My patience for this entire trip had just about run
“REEEOOOWWW, WWWWOOOOOOEEEE, WWWWEEEEEEOOOOOO! Memphis yowled in anguish.
“STOP IT!” I shouted. “Make him stop! I can’t concentrate! The Family isn’t here but I can’t go on like this he’s killing me!”
“Relax, he’s just a cat,” Joshua soothed.
“I can’t relax! He won’t stop, it’s been hours! I just can’t do this anymore! I’m tossing him out! He hates us anyway! Let’s just let him be feral like he wants!” I threatened, my voice peaked with frustration.
“Follow your heart,” Joshua answered softly. This is always his answer when he doesn’t have a real answer. It annoys me endlessly. I was hoping for a stern “NO” to snap me out of my rage or a “HELL YEAH” to ease my guilt.
“Well I’m doing it! I’m sick of him!” I declared.
I glared between the bars of the carrier at our now ten-month-old kitten, fully intent on ripping it open and losing him in the Georgia wilds. At that moment I didn’t care if he was eaten by a bear, or swooped up by a giant hawk. None of that mattered at all to me. Sure I loved him, but at that moment my weariness outweighed that. My furious stare was met with round, frightened, golden-colored eyes. He was still relatively small, huddled up in the back of his carrier with black fur bristled in fear from all of my yelling.
I took in a deep breath and thought of how I must’ve looked. Out here in the middle of nowhere, a monstrous woman yelling threats at the top of her lungs to a terrified baby animal in a cage. Memphis was crouched in a defensive position, his mouth slightly opened like he was ready to bite. This trip is tough on all of us, not just me but him as well, I thought. Remorse washed over me like an icy wave and I felt it settle like a block of iron in my stomach.
“I’m sorry buddy,” I sighed.
We drove in silence.
After some time even Memphis had hushed, defensive posture lost long ago to an unhappy sleep. The nearest town was quite far back the way we came, past the pig farms and rolling, green pastures back to the gas stations and mom-and-pop diners. It was midnight by the time we had checked in at the first motel we saw. It was an old single-story cinderblock complex probably built in the sixties. Each unit had exactly one barred window and one dubious looking bed. The partially burned-out neon sign ironically said “Relax Inn.” I highly doubted this was the kind of place where anyone would be doing any sort of relaxing.
In our room some kind of rusted pipe emerged from the corner beside the front door, occasionally emitting some whooshing and clanging noises. The door was covered in high school graffiti. “Tammy was here!” “Ashley, Tammy, and Veronica BEST NITE EVERRRR! 2009!” I wondered what drugs they took to make this place home of “the best nite everrrr.” The comforter was peppered with cigarette burns, and the mildewed tiles of the bathroom crawled with tiny spiders. If I wasn’t so tired from all the driving and cat drama there was no way I would’ve been able to get any sleep in this crime scene motel.
Joshua began snoring as soon as his body hit the mattress. I lay awake starring wide-eyed at the water damaged ceiling, turning the day’s events in my head. I almost did it, I almost let him go. Our baby. I wondered where the little guy retreated to and almost as if he answered my thoughts I felt something impact on the mattress. I heard the creak of old bed springs as he stepped carefully to me and gingerly laid down on my chest, his nose to mine. He closed his eyes and purred gently, kneading on my neck. I remember clearly the warmth and weight of his fuzzy little body and the vibration of his steady purring. His warmth radiated to my very heart. I hugged him close. After all that mess, after how nasty I was to you, you still love me. You forgive me?
There in the darkness of that foul place, little cat purring away on my chest, tears streamed down my face and wet his paws. In my frustration and blind anger I almost made one of the biggest mistakes of my life. The guilt of what I had considered doing was leaden weight on my heart, to him it was absolutely nothing at all. I stifled quiet sobs.
“I love you too buddy, I’m so sorry.”
Kristine lives with her husband and daughter in Gainesville, Fl. She is a casual lifestyle blogger, hobby aquarist, and stay-at-home mom.