Ken Young (from Ken Young Creative) went from being scolded for drawing during class time as a youngster to a professional graphic designer with his own business. But the real passion that drives Young is his pencil drawings of pets which bring tears to their owner’s eyes. According to Young, it all officially began back in his college years when he attended MATC (Milwaukee) for Commercial Art and worked on the school newspaper, the MATC Times, as their graphic editor.
“It was during those 3 years that I created countless numbers of pencil portraits for the newspaper, especially for the many different speakers that they brought in to the school. Politicians, comedians, writers, musicians—you name it. My drawings improved over those years, and I became rather good at drawing portraits.”
What do people think of your art? Why pets?
My customers are so grateful for my drawings. Most times I see tears weld up in their eyes, and they tell me how touched and moved they are with the drawings I’ve created. That’s what’s amazed me the most. The emotional effect that my drawings bring to people is the best part of what I do. I was drawing pets (mostly dogs) in the very beginning (40 years ago).
Somewhere about that time, I was displaying my drawings at a craft show when a woman in a two-baby stroller pulled up and said, “I really want you to draw my babies.”
Naturally, I was thinking she meant her two baby children in the stroller. But she pulled out her purse to show me a photo of her two dogs. That’s when I knew dog drawings would be a larger market for me. I draw twice as many dogs as I do people. And through the years I’ve come to understand why. Dogs are members of our families. I truly believe that. And sadly, they are not here with us long enough. Maybe 10 to 15 years if we’re lucky. But the love for their dogs is just as strong as the love for our children and grandchildren.
Do people prefer this medium over others?
Yes. I only draw my detailed pet portraits in pencil. The advantage of that is because I have drawn so many now, I am able to do draw them a little faster. It used to take me about 8 hours to draw one dog portrait and because of that, I had to charge $300 per drawing. Today my drawings only take me about 4 to 5 hours, so I can charge $150—a lot more affordable for people.
What are your more memorable drawings?
A woman that I had done a dog drawing for still tells me “if we have a fire in our house, that drawing is the first thing I would grab off the wall as I run out the door.” I’ve also done five different German Shepherds for a woman who wanted each one as a large 16″ x 20″ drawing. It’s kind of spooky because it threads through her whole house and each one is backlit. These aren’t dogs, but I was once approached by a woman who had nine adult children scattered all over the country, and she could never get them together for a family photo—so she had me draw all of them together! And that’s something she could never have accomplished.