Pet Portraits
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India Rose is a Tasmanian-born artist living and studying in Melbourne. India has partnered with Billy’s Beds to offer our customers personalised watercolour portraits of their pets. Portraits are available on card in A5 and A4 sizes. Upon purchasing the portrait, India will send you an email, to which you can respond with a photo of your pet. After she has turned your pet into a work of art, India will mail you the portrait. No matter the size or shape of your pet, India is happy to paint it– no animal is too great nor too small.

We sat down with India and chatted about who she is and what her art is about.

India, thanks for meeting with us. How long have you been painting?

Growing up my mum was an artist, so I was always surrounded by people creating things. I spent a lot of time in art galleries, and my dad was at art school when I was a kid. Ironically, my exposure to artists from an early age became a reason for me not to pursue art, as I realised how hard it was financially. However, after completing my Bachelor’s degree in sociology and philosophy, I discovered that it’s kinda hard to get a job in anything these days, so I thought why not put some energy into my passion and see if I can make it work.  

Where do you do your work?

Well, I’m in desperate need of a space to do my work. At the moment, I tend to sit on the floor of my bedroom and work on a little coffee table. Or sometimes I’ll work on my bed but it can be quite hard because my cat always gets in the way. Other than that, I’ll go to cafes or the library, or just somewhere with other people around. I like being in the company of people, rather than working solitarily. I’m also going to art school this year, so I’ll have a studio space there which I’m really excited about.

Tell us a bit about watercolours.

Well, most of the work I’m doing at the moment involves watercolours. I love the vibrancy and deep tones of watercolours, and how well they can depict the textures of animals especially. I mostly use watercolour pencils, and then towards the end I’ll use black fine liners, gel pens, and white paint pens for detail and highlights.

Why do you love animals?

I’m a massive animal-lover. I feel like household pets in particular have a unique innocence and naivety about them. There’s something so comforting about having a pet, and having a friend who you can’t communicate with through words, yet you know that they’ll always be there. As a vegan, I’m super passionate about animal rights, and that has become a huge part of who I am.

Why do you like drawing pets?

I find animals are easier to draw than humans. The colouring in their fur and the variety of textures makes it easier to capture the character of a pet. I find the process of drawing animals to be much more interesting and enjoyable than it is when drawing humans. If I’m drawing a person from a photo, I find that there’s a certain image that that person has tried to convey. Whereas with pets, there’s no intent on how they want to look – they just are who they are.

How do you know when a work is finished?

Ooooh! That is a good question. Ok, so I’m a perfectionist, and if I had to answer honestly, I’d say that a work is never truly finished. Although, it’s so easy to overwork something, and I find I have to stop myself from adding to my pieces. I guess I often get to a point where I need to give myself a time limit, because otherwise I’ll never stop!

What inspires you to create art?

In addition to pet portraiture, I’m currently drawing inspiration from people who paint cities and industrial landscapes. I’m interested in the contrast between manmade structures and the natural world.

What do you enjoy most about creating art?

I enjoy the fact that creating art is a process, which I look at in terms of building layers. It’s so satisfying drawing animals when your creation starts to take shape, as the body of the animal is built up and the animal’s face begins to peer back at you off the page. And the final moments when I’m adding the whiskers have to be the most satisfying. That’s when you know the piece is nearing the finish line.

Finally, what do think is the role of an artist in society?

I don’t think there is a single role for an artist in society. However, my decision to pursue art has been guided by the question: who is this going to help? I want to be able to effect change with my art, be it through social commentary, or through donating some of the money that I receive for my artworks. That’s one of the reasons I’m happy to be involved with Billy’s Beds. Helping animals is definitely something that I care about, so I’m grateful for this opportunity to make a difference where it’s needed.

If you’d like to immortalise your furry friend in a watercolour painting, India is the artist for you. And even if you don’t buy a bed head, India is still happy to draw your pet. This should give you some idea of how enthusiastic she is about animals!