LATHAM, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A Latham-based artist turned her pop art passion into a full-time job, and it was all inspired by her dog, Chevy.
“Everyone loves the; they, they do,” Whitney Hawkins, the artist behind What’s the Kitsch, said “And how fun is it to see your pet in a Gucci bag or a pair of Birkenstocks, right?”
During the height of the pandemic, Hawkins turned to the computer for an escape. She put Chevy into Andy Warhol’s classic squares and posted the piece on Instagram.
Hawkin’s friends and family took a liking to her quirky digital art and started sending her photos of their animals to transform into pop art. From there, people followed her creations on social media and the orders came in.
She said “quarantine pets”were key in kick-starting her self-taught hobby into a full-time business—What’s the Kitsch.
“I think it was a time when people needed to laugh and have some fun. And we need some color and some life,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins puts on pop-up events across the country and in her own backyard. She has sold her work at the Beekman Arts Festival, and Art in the Park put on Saratoga Arts. She has created for celebrities like country singer Chris Young and TV personality Carson Kressley.
When clients pay for her service, they send a picture of a pet and fill out her customization sheet. From placing a pet on safari to sporting their owner’s favorite baseball jersey, Hawkins said what makes her pieces extra special is the time she takes to put in the details.
Hawkins said the best part of her artistic journey was meeting other female entrepreneurs. Every week, she heads to June Farms Dog Park Night with pro photographer Morgan Campbell. Campbell snaps the shots, and Whitney turns them into art.
Hawkins also created a meet-up for business-minded females called “Small Business Sunday.” It grew to include Lindsey, the owner of Saratoga Bachelorette, Amanda Dugan from Forty One Park, and Chelsea Kane from Kanes Fine Wine.
But Hawkins didn’t stop there. She partnered with Saratoga Arts to expand the idea and host Small Business Sunday at the center starting in October. She said everyone will be invited.
“Women are the backbone of society, of this world,” Hawkins said. “We have to help each other and build each other up in the community.”