Here at Sparkie, we love people who are passionate about animals AND put their talents to use to help them.
Rob doodles animals, like Stumpy here (who was injured at birth) that might need a little help getting noticed. By casting them in a new light, Rob's doodles can help increase a rescue's chance of getting adopted quickly.
We sat down with Rob to learn more about what he does, how he got his start, and his thoughts on how we can all use our unique talents to help animals
Sparkie: Rob, tell us a bit more about your art background and what led you to start the adoptadoodle project
Rob: “I went to school, FIT [Fashion Institute for Technology] for illustration and ended up majoring in toy design. I started working for Fisher Price and then moved to Rhode Island to work for Hasbro for a couple years. And then I came back [to NYC] and started my own consulting and design firm. It was going well but I wanted something outside of the client work. Every artist has that side project they want to do…so through those years I thought about what made me happy and what I can do to … give back. Then I thought about my dog, Penny, and how much of an impact she had on me in providing stability through everything in life and I noticed that a lot of adoptable dogs out there aren’t always portrayed in the best light – maybe they just have a bad photo of them taken or they have injuries that don’t look that attractive in photographs. and I realized no one’s really doing something where they work with a shelter that allows [the animals] to be shown in a different light… in a cute, children’s book kind of way."
Rob’s first doodle was with the ASPCA shelter in NYC – of a special dog named Otis – and within an hour of the doodle going live on social media, he received a request from another NYC shelter for sketches.
Since then, Rob’s doodling side project has taken on a life of its own, growing consistently over the past year. He now sketches for rescues across the US from Washington state to Virginia to North Carolina.
“I did one dog with the ASPCA and after that I got five emails [from rescues] asking if I could a sketch for their shelter!” says Rob.
Sparkie: So how do the doodles help the animals get adopted?
Rob: “Well with all the animals on social media today it’s really hard to break through the clutter…so what happens if you show the same picture of the same dog, you lose your followers’ attention…you’re showing the same picture but your followers don’t always get bigger day after day [so the illustration] helps keep the story fresh and puts the animal in a new perspective.”
But Rob isn’t content with just an online sketch. After an animal has been sketched, Rob prints 2 archival-quality prints – one for the rescue to keep and one for the rescue to give the adopter.
“I remember getting my dog Penny and how exciting that experience was and so I want to do anything that can help make the adoption [process] itself memorable,” Rob notes.
Sparkie: What dog did you doodle that you remember most?
Rob: “Onyx [pictured below] was a victim of dog fighting and had injuries [including missing a portion of her lip] so I decided to sketch that in a playful way.”
Sparkie: What's your dog, Penny, like?
Rob: “Penny is a miniature pinscher mix – she was rescued from a puppy mill in Tennessee and I adopted her at 2 months from a great organization here in NYC called Bideawee. I never had a pet before but I always wanted a dog… as artists we always spend a lot of time working so it’s always nice to have a companion that is there. Having Penny has benefited me more as a person than anything I ever could have imagined to be honest.”
Sparkie: You've worked with lots of rescues - what are some of the more innovative things you've seen a rescue do?
Rob: “Those that know how to use social [stand out]. Before social all we had was Petfinder but now you can run full campaigns for free because of social media – so it’s been a real game changer.”
Rob also called out how cooperative the rescues he’s helped have been and how well they all work together: “the most impressive thing really is how inviting [the rescues are] and how much they want to help each other … all for one cause.”
Sparkie: So what’s next?
Rob: “I definitely want [adoptadoodle] to grow as big as it can. I’d love to …meet some of the dogs [I’ve sketched] .... overall I’m excited to see where it goes.”
We are too.
To learn more about how you can get Rob to sketch a dog or cat at your rescue, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his awesome website.