Dogs And Cats Are Artist's Niche In Hard Economy

From The Des Moines Register

Buck Jones Web Site

Artists find inspiration in different things. For Monet, there were waterlilies. For Warhol, tomato soup. And for Buck Jones? Tennis balls, the more slobbery the better.

The Urbandale artist has drawn pet-related illustrations and cartoons for more than 20 years. He’s done work for magazines, such as Dog Fancy and Cat Fancy, as well as a best-selling book series called Simple Solutions (for various problems: digging, house training, obesity). If it’s a critter, he can drawn it.

But when the economy tanked, some of those freelance assignments dried up. So Jones and his wife, Kim, a graphic designer, decided to market his skills to a broader audience. They launched a Web site last month called and encourage pet owners to commission portraits of Muffin or Spot.

“You can get on the Internet and make sketches of animals, and they’re great,” Kim Jones said. “But Buck takes a lot of pride in asking ‘What is your pet’s personality? What is it that you really love about your pet?'”
They’ve already heard some good stories. One client’s cat liked to nap in a bass drum. Another guy’s dog – a fluffy white one – rode around his farm on an ATV.

And then there was the dog with the unusual appetite.

“The lady was quite vivid in her description about how her dog likes to eat underwear, and she went on to say that she’ll see that underwear a couple days later,” said the artist, who decided to sketch the story without the actual, uh, evidence. “I had to say ‘I don’t think I’ll be drawing that, as much I’d love to.'”
Jones’ pet portraits start at about $70 and go up from there, depending on the complexity of the cartoon.

He hopes people will commission them for gifts or keepsakes or personalized cards, but acknowledged that he isn’t in it for the money. It’s a labor of puppy love.

“He’s pretty simple, God love him,” his wife said in the way she might describe their 10-year-old basset hound. “He’s got an innocent side to him, and he’s just happy by nature.”


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