I could spend hours looking at the work of Zebo Ludvicek an extremely talented artist working from Port Charlotte, Florida, USA.
There is an infectious sense of joy about her work whether she is painting on canvas, illustrating books or creating the most beautiful murals. I get extremely enthusiastic when I look through albums of her work, I think I have a 'art crush' on her. The breadth of her output is wide and diverse but on this occasion I am bursting to show you some of her series of pet portraits.
I sense an enjoyment and celebration of the subjects in the pet portraits so I asked Zebo if the animals are more fun to paint than other commissions.
ZL."Absolutely, yes. Without a doubt YES! I LOVE painting these. Love the entire process. I mean, how fun is it to be painting an Irish Water Dog with a French name ("Armand" because he is strong and bold) in armor, hair tied back, whilst listening to the soundtrack of Les Miserables for inspiration?
And where just curving a little dog's tail around its owners paw (Pandora, the Queen of Cats) can evoke such a feeling of love and trust? People say my portraits show emotion, convey their pets personality. I work diligently at this. It is what sets my work apart from all others. It's these details. The upturned head angled just a bit higher, the hooded eyes with a hint of twinkle (or twubble) and most of all, the little tail wrapped around its owner."
I asked Zebo. Why should I commission a pet portrait from Zebo Studio, why is your style different?
"What could bring a little smile to your lips more than your beloved fur child in jodhpurs or a bustier? Immortalized in paint to bring whimsy to the hum drum of life? A perfect portrait where your little Buster's bad habits and "little packages" in the living room are totally forgotten and only his loyalty, bravery and charm shine forth. A work of art, that at a visitor's first glance appears to be serious, sophisticated portraiture, but then, wait a minute......that's not the Mona Lisa! That's Fluffy!
Plus, since you are involved in the process, (as much as you would like to be), you will feel a wonderful sense of satisfaction when your portrait is finished and you stand before it loving it. Loving who's in it".
"Ok" I say, I have no babies, furry or otherwise... but I'm sold. Tell me how to commission one of your portraits.
ZL. "Easy! Call! Email!Facebook! Whatever works.
HM. "I shall put your contact information at the conclusion of this chat. Then what happens?"
ZL."We first chat about their fur baby and what they have in mind as far as style, medium, size, detail, era, etc for the portrait. We discuss their budget and Zebo Studio pricing and see if the twain shall meet. When I have a general idea of their vision for the portrait, I email samples of my work and also various reference photos to help the client narrow down their choices. Renaissance? Armor? Simple background? A village? Heavy texture? Flat? And so on.....I deal with them as I would like to be dealt with if I knew next to nothing about art and felt slightly intimidated. I make the process simple and visual. It's much easier for a client to SEE a photo of a 17th century dutch painting and say "That's the style! That's what I want!" than to DESCRIBE that look. When I finally know "the look" the customer wants, I give an accurate estimate for the cost of the portrait, with 1/2 due with contract and remainder due at job completion.
I think that her pet portraits have humour, sparkle and buoyancy about them and the sitters radiate personality. Apart from possessing huge talent how does she achieve that? Zebo continues
"If the project is a go ahead, the client emails me photos of the pet. If local, I visit and photograph the subject myself. I also like the client to write me about their fur child. Their personality, likes and dislikes, good things... bad things. This is vitally important as it helps me to grab their character and release it into the painting. I work up very quick digital sketches which I email the client for approval. It's a back and forth collaboration. Two are better than one. The client will have total approval on the final sketch before I commit anything to canvas so they know exactly what they will be looking at in their completed portrait. No surprises. Everyone is happy. Plus, since you are involved in the process, (as much as you would like to be), you will feel a wonderful sense of satisfaction when your portrait is finished and you stand before it loving it. Loving who's in it"
I asked whether there a likelihood of some of her work being made into cards, calendar or a book?
ZL. "I would love to take the lives of these noble creatures and weave a story about them for millions of children to read and enjoy. To keep them alive forever. So yes, a children's book? Definitely. Illustrating is my true passion. While I am painting portraits, I write a story about my subjects, but only in my mind. It makes them more real to me, allowing me envelope them with history, and adventure, feelings and life. Cards? Some of my clients have me design their Christmas card from their pet portrait. Other than those contracts, I have never thought about a line of cards nor calendars. But I have thought about puzzles."
Okay, publishers, licensing agents take note. To see more work from Zebo Ludvicek visit her. There is so much to enjoy about her work I hope to talk to her later in the year about her floral paintings, mural work and book illustration but for now I will leave the last word with her.
ZL. "People say I am the best there is. Let me prove it to you"
Telephone (001) 941-400-7353
links to view more from Zebo
All photos supplied by Zebo Ludvicek.