Before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us were living regular lives. I’m sure as we rang in the 2020 new year on December 31st, we certainly could not imagine that life would be taking such a drastic turn in a matter of months. It’s not like any of us expected to be living through a global pandemic in our lifetime but we’ve all had to face changes in spite of the current events.
For one California resident, Ed Attanasio, he was working as an artist-in-residence at San Jose’s Kaleid Gallery in addition to running his own small ad agency. However, when the coronavirus hit, everything changed. Ed found himself jobless overnight.
As the 62-year-old shared with TODAY, “I got two phone calls and pretty much was furloughed.”
Not sure what to, Ed began to try to figure out what to do with his time. Fortunately for him, that same day a friend of his got in contact. His friend asked Ed if he could draw some pictures for his children. Ed was happy to oblige and immediately set to work. He used the family’s pets as inspiration. He then sent over some drawings to the kids. One of the kids even stated that “Eds like Picasso.”
Turning out to be a big hit with his friend’s kids, Ed’s art soon started to get spread to others. Soon, Ed found himself receiving requests from people to draw pictures of their pets. This inspired Ed to turn it into a charity model.
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Ed started his “Pandemic Pet Project.” He would receive photos of people’s pets through his Facebook page and then he’d create free drawings that were drawn onto a Post-it. Rather than accepting money for his commissions, Ed did something different. He asked that people donate $50 to an animal rescue organization of their choice.
After kicking off his passion project, he has drawn more than 900 portraits of pets. Most of the pictures have been of cats and dogs, but he has also dabbled with drawings of snakes, birds, and ferrets, as well as a llama and a blind raccoon. Even though the people donating give their money directly to charities, he guesses that his project has helped to raise $40,000 for shelters and rescue groups!
Ed’s drawing project is supposed to be a two-pet limit, but according to TODAY, he’s stated that he’s a bit of a “pushover” as he will happily draw for others so long as they donate for each animal that he draws. He’s even had one woman donate $100 per pet after asking Ed to draw her six cats.
While Ed draws pets on Post-its now and is known as the Pet Picasso, he actually never trained professionally as an artist. However, his father was a painter. Ed’s trade was that of journalist and ad copywriter. He even did stand up comedy until 2009, when he suffered a “mini-stroke” at the age of 50. But he did turn his life around as at the time he weighed 350 pounds and suffered from both diabetes and high blood pressure. But with a lot of determination, he lost more than 120 pounds. It was in the aftermath of his mini-stroke that he began to doodle as part of his recovery. His therapist suggested that he make it a habit and do something creative every day in order to keep his brain engaged. His wife at the time ended up buying him a stack of Post-its for him to continue doodling – and from there, his journey into art began.
Now, Ed also donates his pet portraits to his favorite animal charity, Muttville Senior Dog Rescue, in order to get people interested in adopting senior dogs. Because of this, a rescue in Wichita, Kansas, also approached him to see if he could draw portraits of their adoptable pooches. To date, Ed has seen his pet portraits make their way to all corners of the globe. His artwork has been sent to 25 states as well as 15 countries, including countries like Mexico, Netherlands, France, Bulgaria, and Turkey.
This charitable man has big plans for his project. He has stated that he’s not going to stop until he hits his goal of 1,000 pet portraits. He is also toying with the idea of putting together a graphic novel “yearbook” of the pets he’s drawn this year. And we would love to see that.
What a lovely project he has started. What do you think of Ed’s work? Would you want to get your pet’s portrait drawn by him? Let us know!
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