We had the good fortune of connecting with Meg Fakult and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Meg, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
It didn’t seem to matter what my “day job” was, I found myself painting pet portraits any time I could find around them. I just couldn’t stop creating pieces and always seemed to have a list of clients wanting them. The business truly started to materialize after a few years of practice and gaining confidence in the quality of the product I was selling. I also started to develop a personal style in my craft- there are plenty of pet portrait artists but you could pick mine out in a crowd just based on my colors and application techniques. It felt like a slow, natural progression for me. I have a background in graphic design, sales, and fine artistry so the pieces started falling into place.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m someone who views and treats their pet as family; and I’m not alone in this way! The joy I felt creating a portrait of my own dog really hit me. I realized quickly after that first pet portrait that I could offer this service to others who felt like me, because what better way to honor your furbaby than an original, custom artwork!

Why did I choose “Pastels and Pits”? It all began in 2015 when I brought home a year old pup named Richard.
Simply put, Richard changed my life. I didn’t grow up with large dogs- but I wanted a companion and tons of people in Savannah, GA seemed to rescue and own bully breeds. Richard quickly became my partner and fit right into my lifestyle! His emotional intelligence and eagerness to please was so incredible at first, and he has carried those traits and into our adulthood.

Richard is one of those dogs that people label as a “Pitbull” based on the way he looks. This means that communities label Richard as “aggressive” and put bans on owning him in many places. They don’t know Richard personally, but make assumptions based on mis-informed stereotypes.

The reality is, Richard is a model canine citizen in so many ways! I am passionate about sharing Richard with the world to help change the stigma attached to “aggressive” dog breeds. Needless to say, I have a HUGE soft-spot for “pitbulls” and will continue to advocate for their breeds.

I think the biggest challenge for myself and many artists is having the confidence to market yourself and put your work out there. In tandem to that is knowing how much to charge for your work and time. I started with $100 16″x20″ portraits for friends and family just to see what kind of interest was out there. I was no where near as skilled as I am now but at the time I knew it was solid practice and I was at least making something in return for my time. Slowly but surely I grew my online presence and started to gain confidence based on feedback in Facebook groups. I was testing out so many different surfaces, supplies, techniques- all of it. I had no idea what the “right way” to go about pasteling was, but figured if I used the products my favorite artists used that I could figure it out from there!

I am actually pretty proud and happy with how I learned pastels and built this pet portrait business. I started learning before the Tik Tok era so I had to really figure things out on my own or with the help of peers in my Facebook groups. I have trashed many portraits; the perfectionist in me absolutely dreads having to do that but sometimes you have to test new, weird ideas to grow. I didn’t really know any “real-life” artists so almost all of my relationships are through Instagram and Facebook. I would message people I looked up to and would ask specifics about their supplies or would simply compliment what they were doing. Some of the best advice has come from my online peers, so I always make sure to be available to people who have questions. It’s not a competition for me. I feel like the world doesn’t view artists in the same light as regular work so why wouldn’t I want to support and help other’s stuck chasing this dream, like me?! This profession chased me for many years. It took me a while to finally accept that this was who I was but I definitely gave the corporate world a good go.

There are two main parts of my brand that matter the most to me: My client relations & near-perfect representations of my subjects. Client relations being first.

The pet market is massive and with that is a huge pool of pet artists. There are all price points, products and levels of customization available to pet owners so I stand in a sea of many. I create a more niche, luxury product in this space, something that people generally need to spend a little more time considering before making the purchase. My clients aren’t just buying a portrait of their pet, they are buying my style, my brand, and a piece of me when they hire me to be their artist. I outline the process, give updates along the way, and they watch their artwork come to life online through my social media accounts. Some of them even see their pet go viral with my video content. I do my absolute best to make my clients feel comfortable and excited about the portrait they commissioned. This relationship matters to me the most and I have come out of it with tons of new friends and even new business thanks to their referrals.

My portraits are as true to life as I can create. I don’t settle on complicated sections; I push myself to make every element of the drawing as perfect as I can. This does take a lot of time, but the resulting portrait is so stunning and is often said to appear to be jumping off the page! Realism take a sharp eye, a little bit of OCD, and a nice chunk of time; so my projects sit on the desk for weeks. I do my absolute best to capture not only the quirks and visual markings of my client’s pets but also their energy and spirit. The eyes truly are the path to the soul, so I take great care to get the eyes and face as perfect as possible. I even “reverse-age” some of my subjects as a way to capture the full life of the pet instead of just one moment in time. I take a lot of details into consideration and continue to grow as an artist with every piece.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I live on the Jersey Shore and there are so many wonderful spots to go!

We’d start bright and early with a run on the boards (the boardwalk) that ends at a fabulous little diner right on the beach, The Avon Pavilion. Their Lox Board totally hits the spot. We’d show our badges to the attendant and spend the morning and afternoon on the beach. After a refresh, we’d head over to Cave Bistro for the best farm-to-table dinner around! Nothing quite hits like their Bone Marrow Burger with duck-fat, truffle fries. We would then venture north to Asbury Park for the craft cocktails at the Asbury Distillery. They are always creating top-notch drinks! A few beers at my favorite pub, Kim Maries, would end our lovely day.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Sema Martin, Pet Portrait Artist and Author of “Art is My Career”.

Right before my business had really started taking off on social media, Sema’s Facebook group centered on the “Art is My Career” book was a great space to bounce ideas and see what kinds of collateral and branding would really help make my business stand strong.

Website: www.pastelsandpits.com

Instagram: www.instagram.com/pastelsandpits

Facebook: www.facebook.com/Pastelsandpits

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.