Pink Prints is a new, thriving creative business based in London.
Founder Jess Barlow embarked upon her entrepreneurial journey when she decided to transform her passion for art into a business opportunity.
As the world ground to a halt due to lockdown and thousands of British people put on furlough, Jess decided to start Pink Prints due to a change in circumstances due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Pink Prints has a wildlife collection that embodies Jess’ passion for art, fashion and wildlife.
Jess has also been commissioned to paint a number of pet portraits, ranging from Alaskan Klee Kai to Tabby cats, horses and bunnies.
We spoke to Jess to learn about Pink Prints, her creative process and how pet owners can commission their own custom portrait of their furry friend.
You can follow Pink Prints on Instagram (@pinkp_rints).
What is Pink Prints?
Pink Prints is a small creative business I started during lockdown. I began specialising in stylised pet portraits created using watercolour and ink. I was surprised by just how many orders came in at the beginning, and was soon taking on more interesting requests, including dogs wearing flat caps, dickie bows, Gucci sunglasses and Designer hand bags.
How would you describe your artistic style?
I would probably say loose and free, yet still capturing the subjects likeness and personality. I always start the process ensuring I have the proportions and features true to life, and then the fun begins when I am let loose with the watercolour and ink. The watercolour is fluid, yet the ink adds a sharp contrast. Having worked in the fashion industry for more than 6 years, I also think there is a hint of fashion illustration added in the mix!
Can you explain how you first started your watercolor artwork? Have you always enjoyed painting animals?
I first started drawing this way in school. Drawing fairly intricately in ink, then adding the free lashings of watercolor and back to intricate ink- it’s just the way I naturally work. However when I was at school it was all very fine arts and fashion based. I suppose I started by tearing editorials out of Vogue and half painting over them with acrylic paint and adding drippy ink. Perhaps the watercolor was the next steps from there.
In terms of animals, I started Pink Prints because I needed a release from the anxiety of job insecurity and a fresh source of potential income.
Creating art has always been a release to me. I find it so relaxing. I have to say attempting to mix the two has always been a dream, but I never previously had the time to try whilst attempting to balance a busy city working/social life The pandemic proved to be my opportunity. With the encouragement from amazing friends I took the plunge and the rest is history! Although I am still in very early days, it has been a great experience so far and one I hope continues!
Do you have a favourite type of animal to draw?
I love drawing all types of animals. I like birds, the variety is incredible and when you work on an artwork, it is a great opportunity to study their aesthetic in-depth.
However, as most of my commissioned drawings are of dogs, I have come to love drawing them! There are so many breeds and they are all so different, with such obvious personalities and expressive little faces. In terms of breeds I would probably say Whippets and Greyhounds, as I find it interesting depicting the angles and the mechanics so to speak of the body.
I have also had lots of fun drawing big cats within my prints collections, I love adding the fun with accessories.
What’s been your most challenging assignment so far?
I always find people most challenging. Before starting Pink Prints, the main body of my work was of expressive faces painted in a ‘surrealist’ style with acrylic paints as opposed to watercolor. I would use bright pinks, yellows and blues, So creating life like humans, always takes more time and more consideration.
How long does the process take from start to finish?
I usually work on a few pictures at any one time. For example, getting the proportions down in pencil first for three commissions. Then moving on to ink for the three pieces, then paint then back to ink. However, if I was to just work on one, I would say around a full day, probably rolling into a little of the next. It depends how many distractions I have and how sunny the balcony is looking.
Do you have plans to add to your wildlife collection?
I have been asked on a few occasions to create more wildlife prints for children’s nursery’s so it is potentially on the cards. It is with my prints collections though that I like to have a little creative fun, so maybe the next steps will be wildlife animals in accessories or clothes. Perhaps an owl wearing a graduation cap or a hawk with a monocle?
Also, some fresh News! I do have a new collaboration/collection coming soon. I will be working closely with wedding shoe designer Diane Hassall. Think pastels and florals, fashion illustration meets intricate Lacey shoes. Watch this space!
What have been some of your favourite artworks to date?
There have been so many!!! I loved one of my first pieces of Alaskan Klee Kai Skye, this was one of my first artworks.
I also created one as a Fathers day gift for a client, this was of a very tiny terrier cross. My scratchy style seemed to compliment this pup very well and I was told the client cried when he received it, which is very touching to hear.
At Pink Prints I love to collaborate with the customer, bringing their vision and ideas to life. One of my favourite requests was from a man who wanted to surprise his girlfriend. He raided her wardrobe to find her favourite accessories, sent me images, and we decked out her pup in head to paw Gucci. Hair ties, sunglasses, bag- the works.
I have also illustrated a short story of baby Carys and her best friend Baloo the cat- There has been a real mix, It really has been a lot fun so far!
What do you think makes you stand out from such a crowded Pet Portrait Market?
I love to work very closely with the client from the beginning of the process and throughout. I send images and videos, and if the client wants any tweaks at any point- this is never an issue.
I always start by discussing their pet, their character traits, request close up images of their collars and tags or any interesting features. For example, I recently worked on a portrait of a husky who had two different coloured eyes, the black of their left pupil bled into the iris, it was beautiful and had to be captured!
From there, it would be my creative style, competitive price point, actually being created by hand using paints and ink, as opposed to digital, and also the option of adding accessories or anything you should wish. Be warned- I am currently working on an A1 Chihuahua dressed as Napoleon… Nothing is out of bounds!
Do you only create custom Art works?
I also have 2 collections of prints available! Hense the Pink Prints brand title!
The first series is the Wildlife Collection, this consists of a millennial pink Flamingo, Tongue out Giraffe and Fierce Tiger head. The second series is the Fashion Collection, consisting of The Gucci Lynx, Gucci Saluki pup, Floral Cheetah, Gucci Oriental cat and Gucci Tiger.
These are available as individual prints, or discounted when purchased as a full collection.
What is your Pet Portrait price point and lead-times?
For a single pet portrait prices start at £50, or if you want your pup to be decked out in accessories, prices start at £75, (both A3 sizes.) I do of course, take on requests for different sizes and multiple pets per image, these would be quoted upon enquiry.
Lead times are generally between 2-4 weeks depending on how many orders I have in at the time.
What are some of the lessons you’ve learned about starting a business?
To be honest, it was all a bit of a whirl wind and not planned at all. It originated by me drawing a flamingo and my friends wanted a copy. From there I had another friend asking for a painting of her cat. She loved it and then requested another for a family member. It snow balled from there!
Once the ball was rolling I have learned that customer service is paramount and that a lot of my clients have come from recommendation of someone who has already bought an artwork. I have also learned how active you need to be on social media in order to get your work seen and advertise. Social media platforms are such amazing tools, but it has taken a while to learn what gets a good reaction and what doesn’t.
As a creative, sometimes the business side of things doesn’t come naturally to me, I am very lucky to have amazing friends who are extremely entrepreneurial and successful who guide and advise me, which is amazing. I think being open to people’s constructive criticism and ideas is probably my number one piece of advice. Also having a second pair of eyes looking at the artwork itself is beneficial. After spending a few days staring at the same artwork- it can be very helpful!
How can someone order from you and see your full portfolio?
My full portfolio is available to view on my social channels:
Orders can be placed by private messaging on either of those platforms, or I can be emailed at [email protected]
Or for those of you etsy users out there it’s www.etsy.com/uk/shop/pinkprintsshop there are SO many options!
Use discount code ‘hellobark10’ to get 10% off your first Pink Prints order (discount is not applied to shipping).