Dogs of New Zealand – Tea Towel Project

Dogs of New Zealand is a project by artist Beck Wheeler. Beck is gathering dog photos from around New Zealand and turning them into illustrated tea towel designs.

The project started in December 2014 in Piha/New Zealand.

“To start with the project was about bringing the Piha community together in a positive way. I wanted to create a dog art project that helped people see the nice side of dog ownership. The Dogs of Piha project was a amazing success and led me to start the Dogs of NZ project. I am aiming to do as many areas in NZ as possible within the next few years. I want to make art that brings communities together, that makes quality NZ made textile and that supports positive dog ownership. Dogs are all such different characters and this project is a great way to capture those different personalities and pay homage to man/woman’s best friends.”

So far I have illustrated dogs of Piha, Ponsonby and Grey Lynn/Westmere, Takapuna, Devonport, Waiheke Island and Tauranga.

If you want to chat to me about starting a project for your area email me at beck@dogsofnz.co.nz

DoPihaThe Dogs of Piha tea towel was the first one off the press.

I put the idea for a Dogs of Piha tea towel out there before Christmas last year. Local dog owners were right into it, I ended up with 120 dog photos from 100 people within a few weeks. I illustrated each dog, adding their name below each illustration. These were hand screen-printed onto cotton tea towels and sold at a two day market held locally. People bought them either as pieces of art or to dry their dishes with.

Lulu

Lulu is one of the Dogs on the Grey Lynn/Westmere tea towel design. Lulu’s photo was taken by Rachel Hale who is a well known photographer based in France. I love how this photo captures her personality.

Another favourite of mine is Gracie from Ponsonby. A dog originally rescued by Rotorua SPCA who now lives in the lap of luxury in Ponsonby where she attends Barkley Manor doggy day care.

Gracie

Bob Obama is a Portuguese Water Dog. He looks dashing in this bow tie and was a great dog to draw. His fluffy eye brows and well groomed facial hair makes him look like a real gentleman.

Bob

The Dogs of Ponsonby tea towel design has 112 dogs in total. It was the second tea towel to be designed in the Dogs of NZ series. I got to meet many of the dogs on the design when we launched the tea towel at Whitespace on Crummer Rd.

DoPons

Rory

Rory was one of the first dogs to go on to the Dogs of Ponsonby design. This profile photo of him shows his lovely face shape and his floppy ears.

Binoo and Miss Lu are a lovely couple. I like that they are such different breeds, yet they are obviously great buddies.

Binno_Miss-Lu

A bit about the process:

At the moment I have been prioritising suburbs where people have shown interest in the project. If I get an email from someone requesting that I draw their suburbs dogs, I write that suburb on my list. I then do a call out for photos via facebook and see how many people are interested by sharing the facebook page within the community. I also put up posters in each area to try to get the dog owners who might not be connected through facebook.

I receive photos via email or Facebook. When I get a photo it gets added to a list of dogs. I  hand draw a sketch of each dog before taking the sketch onto the computer to colour. I try to capture each dogs personality as much as possible within each sketch.

Each tea towel is hand screen printed in 3 colours. I like the simplicity of a limited colour palette, it helps to unify each overall design. I choose a different colour palette for each area, trying to use colours that reflect the personality of each area.

If you want to chat to me about starting a project for your area email me at beck@dogsofnz.co.nz