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Deborah Ervin, Artist, pet portraits

Top Photo: At my art studio

Bottom photo: Working on an Acrylic & Oil Pastel Portrait

About the Artist


My name is Deborah Ervin and I am the artist for all “Inspired by Cooper & Elliott” creations.


Born in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, I currently live and work in Chicago, Illinois. I received my BFA from Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a major concentration in Graphics and a minor in Drawing. I never relished the idea of being a “starving artist”, who would? So I sought out work in the business world. I always felt that I needed to “prove” that I did more than “make things pretty” (a cringe worthy phrase that, as an art major, I heard often from others. Designers in the business world know what I mean - that phrase really should be banned). Over the years, I  built up an extensive career where I parlayed my creativity into marketing, communications, public relations, design, promotions, events and new media for a variety of industries (e.g. small business, corporate, publishing, entertainment, and non-profit). I was successful in all of my ventures – proving that I was the all-in-one package: creative and business expertise together.


While I still do and enjoy freelance and consulting in the aforementioned areas, I know that I don’t have anything to prove to myself or anyone else regarding my business abilities. That realization is rather freeing because now I can concentrate on some work that I love to do -> produce something that will make people smile; that can elicit a happy memory; that is truly meaningful to the recipient. I hope to accomplish this through providing pet owners with an image like no other – one that can educe warm and fuzzies each time they pass by it; an image that is as unique as their pet is to them.


Long before computers became a viable tool for visual and graphical communications, I developed my foundation in the classic arts through old-school training. Educated with the traditional tools of the trade: ink, pen, pencil, paint, and brush, I learned the essentials of illustration: layout, figure drawing, perspective, fontography, and color theory. As an artist it is important to always be advancing, developing my craft, adding to my creative toolbox. While I do and will always utilize and love painting with a brush or other tools in hand, I have added to my tool repertoire a computer, graphic tablet and stylus pen. The digital art techniques that I’ve developed and employ are not Photoshop filters that manipulate the look of an image.  I actually paint with different size and style brushes via these tools - the only difference is less mess and I have an endless color palette!


I love the energy surge I get when starting a new project – blank canvas (or screen) with my medium in hand ready to make that first mark – excitement and enthusiasm grows as the piece takes form. Creating something where there was nothing, that will in turn evoke an emotion from the onlooker, is priceless. It makes me happy and I hope in turn it will make the recipient happy too.


In addition to pet portraits, I have an art studio where I create larger sculptural work – freestanding and hanging pieces. I’m also rarely without a camera in hand – be it my “real” camera or like most people these days, my iPhone. While my subject matter for photographs seems to include Cooper more often than not, I see everything around us as art. Sometimes it needs to be captured in a photo and the photo can be the basis from which a new original piece begins.


Please feel free to check out my studio art work here. And, check out my photography site here.


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