Gabriella Brown spends a lot of her time catching dogs off guard and it’s all in the name of achieving the perfect print!
A printmaker specialising in linocuts, Gabriella’s Humble Brown business is a homage to everything she loves artistically, but especially her love for dogs, which have featured heavily in her life since she was a child.
The pup portraits Gabriella creates burst with character and personality and everyone at Paws HQ were excited to find out about her approach to creating the pawfect portrait and understand the methods she uses to capture a pup’s true personality (naughty or not!) through photography and ultimately in her lino print work.
Growing up, she had always been keen on craft; forever on the look-out for new skills to learn and fascinated by new methods she could explore, but her passion was lino printing, a skill she had been introduced to at school. “I’ve always been a very black and white person,” Gabriella explains smiling, “and I love block, solid colours. I usually prefer the sketched version of pictures rather than the painted version too, so lino appealed to my creative side really early on!”
Gabriella’s print work echoes her passion for interior design, a skill she very much fell into, as her portraits are created with a contemporary feel for the modern home.
Coupled with a penchant for searching for affordable art to fit into her own London home (with limited success!) Gabriella decided to make her own affordable lino art, first experimenting with various mediums and paints before finding her niche.
“It started with a print I call the Fat Bird”, she laughs, remembering, “a friend came over to my house one day, saw it, and said she just loved it. And then asked where I got it from.”
Spurred on by friends looking for stylish prints, Gabriella kept printing. “The real catalyst was a lino print I created of our family’s Jack Russell, Chukka. I took the prints to a Christmas market and sold out the first day! I thought, hmm, this is interesting!”
A self-confessed perfectionist, Gabriella worked hard creating more prints to sell. She’s now a regular at charity shows, fetes and markets and enjoys meeting people who get real joy from her prints. “It’s amazing how people say, wow, that looks just like my dog, and you’ve really captured her personality!”
It’s clear that Gabriella loves running her own business and gets a real buzz from the excitement her craft brings people. We love the different breeds and cross-breeds she’s depicted so far, with our own in-house pooch Rigby making his way onto the Humble Brown portrait list! “There’s a waiting list for dog breeds,” Gabriella says, “and there’s so many I want to print. My favourite dog is a German Shepherd, and now I’m working on a cockapoo!”
Gabriella grew up with animals. “We always had at least three dogs at one time”, she beams, “and I had all manner of pets, including rats, which sounds a bit odd but they’re very underestimated as pets!”
She continues, “but one of the many wonderful things about creating pup portraits is that I get to spend lots of time around dogs – one of the things I love the most! A lot of my inspiration for prints comes from dogs I see and meet at shows. I very often get my camera out and ask the owner if I can get some sneaky snaps of their pup. To create a genuinely personality-driven piece, it really does count if you manage to catch the pup off guard, just being them.”
How to take a pawfect picture of your dog
Gabriella’s prints are often based off the photos of pups she snaps at shows, or commission photos. Getting the perfect photo of your dog can be difficult, and heavens knows we all try, so we were delighted for Gabriella to share her photo tips with us:
- Make sure you capture the character you know, where your pup is showing characteristics of just being itself, whether its grumpy, upbeat or otherwise! Only then can you really capture their true personality.
- Find a comfortable angle for both you and your dog (photographing from above can be a quirky angle, and worth exploring if they’re comfortable with the height)
- Catch them off guard!
- Exhaust your pup by playing their favourite game or going on a long walk beforehand so they don’t wriggle around too much when you’re trying to get your shot!
- Trial and error is everything so don’t give up!
We love that Gabriella’s prints are each handprinted. No two will ever be the same. “Creating portraits with soft cut lino is challenging because with linocuts, there’s no going back,” she explains, “so I go through a lot of drafts! I make sure I get a lot of photos of the dog I’m modelling, and then I usually narrow it down to three or four photos, taking inspiration from each to create the final piece.”
This individual approach to her artwork is reflected in the portraits themselves; each one is so unique and purely focused just on showing and celebrating the pup.
It’s evident how much Gabriella loves bringing joy to people through her work. “One of the best feelings is when kids see their own dog’s likeness in one of my prints and are so excited about it. It’s incredibly sweet.”
But what does she enjoy the most? “Specialising in prints, I get to learn so much about dogs, I just adore them. Any time I get to spend with them is just heavenly.”
If you’re as thrilled as we are about Gabriella’s four-legged passion, head over to Humble Brown to check out her current portraits. See if you can spot our Rigby!