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Meet Andy Stolarek of Furtographs Pet Portraiture

Today we’d like to introduce you to Andy Stolarek.

Andy, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Classically trained in bassoon performance and visual art from University of Southern California and California Institute of the Arts, photographer/artist Andy Stolarek began to work with animals in 2000. First working with taxidermy and the study of anthropomorphism, Stolarek examined organized groups and document the specific elements that bring the collectives together through narrative gallery installations.

On a drive to San Francisco in 2003, Stolarek came upon his first pedigree cat championship. This discovery began his photographic series ‘Grimalkin’ which focused on the niche arena of feline pageantry and competition. As his work progressed, he began to photograph the animals of friends and family, initializing Furtographs. With his unique aesthetic for portraiture, capturing each animal in an unconventional and dramatic manner became Stolarek’s Furtographs focus.

Furtographs home base studio is located in the Loft at The Urban Pet at 7515 Beverly Blvd. in Los Angeles. In addition to working throughout Southern California, Furtographs often works in Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle and your city by request.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Some elements that have been a challenge throughout the last 8+ years we have been going full time in LA usually are the physical issues or temperaments of certain pets. Pets, particularly dogs, that have bad joints, hips, back issues etc. are often hard to work with because of their limited ability for sitting/standing. We have worked with so many that we have certain techniques to bypass this obstacle to ensure we capture the client’s pet in the best way. One particular challenge I recall was when we worked with a dog who had gotten in by car in previous owners care. The first frame I took and the flash went off the dog went barreling across the studio and hid under the couch, the only time in over 900 clients we only got one frame, but couldn’t force the situation. Cats, in general, are also usually more challenging, especially in the studio out of their element. But with our extreme patience and arsenal of tricks up our sleeves, we always deliver!

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Furtographs Pet Portraiture – what should we know?
Furtographs specializes in contemporary Pet Potraiture. We strive to maintain a modern and unconventional approach to portraiture creating artwork for our clients that do not look like “a picture of my dog.” We are proud to have worked with over 900 clients in-studio and on location around the globe sharing our passion and pets and visual art.

Furtographs has also established a strong working relationship with the VCA Animal Hospitals creating custom artwork for many locations across the United States. Working closely with several architectures and design firms, we meticulously design an artwork plan that is custom to the region and location.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
We pride ourselves on maintaining a specific aesthetic creating timeless artwork capturing each pet’s individuality. During the sessions, we practice patience and close engagement with client and pet creating an entertaining and low-stress environment. Our clients leave recommending us to their other pet loving friends.

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