The photo gift industry is constantly growing, producing unique memory products to help people celebrate their loved ones, including those family members with four legs. Today, there is a wide and varied range of photo-related products for pet lovers.
Just as dye-sub printing, laser etching and 3D printing (additive manufacturing) spawned more sophisticated personalized gifts over the decades, digital art and hands-on manufacturing techniques continue to create new personalized photo gifts.
Etsy.com is one of the most popular online marketplaces to help nurture art-based businesses. It provides a storefront for entrepreneurs with limited financial resources; it also expands the online audience for small businesses that start out offering local creative services. Moreover, it’s a great resource for artists interested in launching new photo gift businesses.
Photo-Related Gifts for Pet Lovers
Medieval Pet Portrait Photos
Manon Ghiurco, a graphic artist based in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, is one such businesswoman. She created a unique sales opportunity by combining her love of art, imaging and animals. Ghiurco’s website, MedievalPet.com, offers pet lovers a collection of stunning portrait templates designed to seamlessly incorporate their pets’ faces into elegant scenes from the past. The templates are recreated from famous works of art from the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Romantic periods. In addition, they feature historical characters like Napoleon Bonaparte, Queen Isabella and Louis XV.
“Most of my work starts with a famous masterpiece,” says Ghiurco, who goes by the business/artist name Manon. “I add the head of a dog or cat to a historic scene and test each background on different pets to see the universality of its use. I’ve done quite a lot of work to enhance the quality of the backgrounds, so they look nice at large and extra-large sizes.”
A professional graphic designer with extensive experience in drawing, painting (hand and digital) and handmade creations, Manon created about 150 templates using public domain paintings by early artists.
“I like to make the character realistically blend in with the background; I enhance the original paintings to make them look similar to high-quality photographs. Renaissance paintings were the ‘photography’ of their time,” she explains.
Manon’s pet portrait business was inspired by her beloved dog, JA—a popular local mutt who followed her and her husband home in 2009. “She always impressed me with her native intelligence and witty mind,” says Manon. “We had this tramp smart dog, with Oxford-street-like training, and we felt she deserved more; so we started a personal blog for her.”
JAnovelty Is Born
Manon made several medieval portraits with JA for fun. “Everyone laughed and talked about how elegant she looked,” she recalls. “At the time, I was interested in more serious work as a graphic artist. However, my husband told me I could make people happy creating medieval portraits of their pets.” She launched JAnovelty on Etsy about a year and a half ago.
The artist controls every part of the creative process. Manon uses her experience as a professional Photoshop artist, creating three-dimensional backgrounds for her products. “I don’t want to compromise on quality,” she says. “I work several hours on each portrait; it’s worth the time.”
After Manon incorporates a pet’s face into one of her historical scenes, she e-mails the digital file to her customer in one of three sizes: 4×6 to 5×7, 8×10 or 16×20 inches, at 300 dpi. She doesn’t sell printed portraits; instead, she gives her clients files capable of producing high-quality prints via their favorite online or local photo lab.
JAnovelty was Manon’s first direct-to-consumer business venture. She chose Etsy as a sales platform because “it takes care of everything” and reaches such a large volume of potential customers. “It has some limitations,” she says. “But on Etsy, there are so many people interested in art and outside-the-box type products.”
Medievalpet.com also features sample portraits from dozens of original templates, most shown with several animal and human subjects. Moreover, Manon includes background information on the original artwork; suggested gift ideas for
the finished images; and a blog with pet photography tips to get the best possible reproduction. She also suggests customers provide several views of their pet’s head and recommends taking pictures of the front paws or hooves to serve as hands in the portrait.
Most important, Manon will partner with photo retailers and professional photographers who may be interested in offering her unique services to their clients. You can e-mail the artist at firstname.lastname@example.org as well as view some of her other creative work at JAnovelty on Pinterest.
Bakers Street Cutters
Browsing the Etsy website reveals dozens of customized products that will appeal to devoted pet lovers. They range from custom drawings and paintings to engraved jewelry, etched crystal towers and handmade pet pillows.
Another unique supplier is Bakers Street Cutters in Nampa, Idaho. Established in 2018, the shop offers a large selection of unusual cookie-cutter shapes. Best sellers include dog bones personalized with a pet’s name as well as Bastet the Egyptian cat, popular television characters and iconic symbols. Furthermore, the company’s most unusual cookie-cutter shapes are custom portraits and pet portraits handmade by the artist, Ivan.
Clients provide a clear photograph of the subject’s face when placing their order. In about two weeks, the shop owner returns a carefully crafted cookie cutter that makes personalized sugar cookies.
“I personally design each cutter and pay attention to every detail,” says Ivan. “Before printing, I will send you a preview to see as well as make any changes to the design if necessary.”
Each cutter measures approximately 4 inches. The outline depth is .5 inch and internal impressions (facial details) are .43 inch. For information on how to order personalized cookie cutters for pets, visit Bakers Street Cutters on Etsy.com.
Cuddle Clones for Pet Lovers
Cuddle Clones of Louisville, Kentucky, is home to another unusual handmade gift supplier. The company offers plush animals to match their customers’ favorite furry friends. Established in 2010 by Jennifer Williams and Adam Greene, the duo officially launched an independent e-commerce website in 2013.
Marketing research indicated a strong demand for pet replicas, especially for pet parents who had recently lost a beloved animal; or those whose bonds are disrupted by travel, students going to college or military deployment.
The company’s original product, the Cuddle Clone, replicates the shape, color as well as the characteristics of the client’s pet. Plushes are typically made from polyester and acrylic materials. In addition, they range in size from 4–5 inches for small animals, like gerbils, to 20–24 inches for large animals, such as horses. Cats and dogs measure approximately 13–14 inches.
Customers provide photographs of their pets for matching; they also specify features unique to the animal, such as eye color and body, ear, tail, mouth and leg positions. Designers choose from thousands of synthetic fabrics to find one that most closely matches the pet’s coat. Moreover, they apply color and markings with water-based airbrush paint.
In addition to stuffed plush animals, Cuddle Clones offers plush slippers, golf club head covers, holiday stockings and handmade purses. It also sells 3D sandstone replicas of pets in the form of 4-inch figurines, ornaments and 1-inch necklace and earring charms.
Further, Cuddle Clone sells more conventional pet photo gift products, including canvas prints, mugs, blankets and clothing. Cuddle Clones donates a portion of their profits to animal rescue and anti-cruelty organizations.
For information on the affiliate program and partnering with the company, visit the website at cuddleclones.com/affiliates.