Dog Art by Casey Porn in for humans

Casey Porn is an artist and “small-dog enthusiast” living and working in Raleigh, North Carolina. Her vibrant, curious, endearing portraits often feature dogs as subjects, with her own rescue pups serving as her muses. She was kind enough to sit down with Dog Milk and tell us a little bit about her work, her process, and her dogs.

First off, we’re a dog site, so you’re going to need to tell us about your dogs.

I have three amazing small rescue dogs: a 14-year-old chihuahua named Breenle T. Horse, an eight-year-old Schipperke mix named Augie, and a five-year-old Tibetan spaniel mix named Pico.

Your dogs all have unique names and nicknames. Do you keep sort of a running list in your head of great dog names? (I do.)

Sort of. Our dog’s names are constantly evolving into new names, and then I change them and get a new tag made. Not healthy, I know, but what is? Since I’ve had T.Horse for fourteen years, she’s had the most names. Her adopted name was Lulu, but I never really identified her with that. She became Lootie, then Lootie McGrootie, then Yordle, then Yorts, then Diablo, then Beetle, which led to Beetle Brain, which somehow became Breenle, and then to be a little more official: Breenle “Tiny” Horse. We mostly refer to her as Breenle or Horse. If you address her with the right inflection, she will respond to anything. As for the other two, Augie prefers to be called Gietie, and Pico answers to Muppy.

Dog Art by Casey Porn in for humans

How do your dogs inspire you? What else gets your wheels a-turnin’?

They are a constant source of copyright-free pet image gold. I impart their personalities into the characters they depict. I’m also inspired by pop culture, which is my second passion in life after small doggery.

Dog Art by Casey Porn in for humans

You recently had a solo show in New York City. What benefits do you see for your work, if any, in living and working in a smaller town like Raleigh, NC?

The Raleigh art scene is a pretty tightly knit community that’s easily accessible to anyone with determination and talent. Most of the scene is concentrated in the downtown area, where I live and work, so it was pretty easy to make connections as long as I was consistently creating new work. With bigger cities, it’s probably harder to get a foot in the door, and once you have a show, it’s not as likely that someone with a gallery six blocks away will see it and offer you a show at their place. I’m very lucky to live where I do!

Dogs with antlers, pups in traditional African jewelry, bear cubs with battle gear, and yes, saggy nipples: what does it all mean?

Honestly, I have no idea. I’m trying to address social issues in human culture that interest me. Things that might be serious, sad, or dark. It’s easier to get people to look at these things if the imagery used to convey them involves a cute animal face. I love drawing animal faces, so it all works out. The saggy nipples obsession started when I visited a chihuahua puppy mill with my mom as a teenager. The dogs there were very unhappy and the females all had saggy nipples. I loved their huge eyes, and how much of their sad story could be told with a single look. From then on, I only wanted to draw small animals with big eyes. In my work, saggy nipples are a metaphor for the burdens of life experience. I paint this stuff because it is in my head and I want to see it outside of my head. The result is never as good as the idea, but at least it’s not taking up all that space in my head anymore.

Dog Art by Casey Porn in for humans

Do you take commissions?

This is a great question, and the answer is no. After design school, I had a brief career as a pet portrait artist. I obsessed over making work to satisfy other people’s expectations. The pressure of pleasing people made the creative process a real drag, and the result was usually an image that I couldn’t spiritually connect with. When I stopped trying to emulate realism, I was able develop my own style. Now I make art to make art. That said, I still really like when people want to buy the art I make.

Dog Art by Casey Porn in for humans

Thanks so much to Casey for hangin’ out with us. If you want to check out more of Casey’s work, hop on over to her website.