I've always wanted to have each of my dogs painted. There's just something extra special about a painting... they become family heirlooms and timeless treasures.
So, when I was given the opportunity to have a digital painting done by Enzie Shahmiri (be sure to click that link and check our her impressive resume) of Portraits by NC, I jumped at the chance.
While it wasn't the actual painting that I've wished for all this time, it was still going to be a very nice addition to my art collection.
I was so excited about the opportunity, however, that I never thought to ask questions about copyrights, sales, etc. I simply assumed that I would be given the hi-res file upon completion and that would be it. Perhaps the artist would use it in her portfolio, but I never thought that anything else would be done with my dog's portrait.
My excitement led to a bit of shock, and therefore, before I go any further, I must stress one thing. If you are going to commission anyone to create a portrait, ask questions first. Know what will happen to your portrait and who will have rights to it before you commission anyone to paint it - digitally or otherwise.
I had to chose which dog would receive the honor of being digitally painted, and after much deliberation, I decided it would be Zeus. I opted to use one of my favorite photos of him, taken just a few days before his 14th birthday this past March. He looked so peaceful during what was a rather difficult time, as his health was very much declining.
Enzie took my copyrighted photo of my dog and used it to create what I would later be told was her copyrighted digital painting - but more about that later.
The process of having your pet's portrait digitally painted is a fairly smooth one in which Enzie is in contact with you several times. She will work with you to decide if you want to change background colors, remove things from the original photo, or enhance parts.
Enzie sent a couple of proofs to me to review during the process, and worked with me on changes I requested. She removed his harness, and then later, his collar as well. This left an odd looking "bump" in his coat, which I had to ask to have fixed. Enzie was able to do this and in the end, produced a beautiful digital portrait that I absolutely love and cherish.
Upon finishing, I was provided with a hi-res file of the digital portrait which I could then use to have it printed on any medium of my choice, with any retailer. I tried to print on canvas at Shutterfly, however kept running into issues with the image not being "large" enough. After a few tries of Enzie resending resized files, I finally just decide to go ahead and order the framed canvas from her preferred retailer, Fine Art America. After all, the quality was supposed to be superior and this was an important print. (Do note that Enzie will in essence be paid twice if you opt to order through Fine Art America, as she has a fee built into the price they will charge you)
The cost was more than double what I would have paid at Shutterfly, but I really just wanted something that looked of gallery quality and, quite frankly, I was frustrated with going back and forth in trying to get the correct size image. (I did later have a pillow and some cards made at Shutterfly, however)
It was not until Enzie sent me the link to order my portrait of Zeus at Fine Art America that I realized that not only could I order my baby's portrait (along with greeting cards, pillows, tote bags and more!), but so could the rest of the world!
That's right - Enzie was offering Zeu's image to the entire world to purchase. She now owned the copyright to her digitally painted image. Never mind the fact that I own the copyright to the original image and the fact that it's my dog... my dead dog to be exact. This was a huge shock and quite unsettling to a dog Mom who was, and is, still grieving the loss of her precious baby.
While Enzie did a fabulous job on Zeus' digital portrait, and I think her other work is fabulous, I have to again stress the fact that if you're going to commission portraits from her or any other artist, ask questions first. Find out up front if the portrait you are paying for will be yours and yours alone, or if the artist will be using it to make money from others. And don't be afraid to negotiate your terms.
There was also this listing on Etsy where Zeus' portrait is used to show what a "custom Boxer portrait" looks like. I graciously informed Enzie that Zeus was not part Boxer, yet she left the listing as-is anyway. While I adore my portrait of my not-a-Boxer, I'm guessing those who do have a Boxer would find this confusing.
After expressing my concern for these issues, Enzie did graciously offer to do a digital painting of one more of my dogs. I had some reservations at first, but as you can see, she does a really nice job. Now that I knew what I was getting into, I decided to take her up on the offer and chose a favorite photo of Lola from 2013. Enzie did another fabulous job.
Since I wanted these two special portraits to hang together, I did opt to purchase from Fine Art America using the same frame as I had ordered with Zeus.
My babies look absolutely gorgeous side-by-side... oh how I miss them both terribly.
I do hope to get the rest of my furbabies painted in the future. While I'm still longing for an actual watercolor painting, these digital paintings are a great, affordable alternative. Plus, once you have the digital image you can put it on other items as well. As mentioned above, I have already ordered Zeus' painting on a pillow and notecards, and will most likely do the same with Lola's.
While I learned a lot through this process, and certainly felt it was my duty to share that with you as part of my "tried and true" style of reviews, please know that I am thrilled with the two portraits Enzie digitally painted for me. If you're looking to have your pet's portrait done, I would certainly recommend her! She created two stunning portraits for me that I will cherish for the rest of my life!
You can commission your own portrait from Enzie via her Etsy store or her website.
Connect with Portraits by NC: Facebook - Twitter - Instagram