William Wegman made a splash in the 1980s when his Weimaraners, Man Ray and Fay Ray, starred in a series of coffee table books about dogs posing as humans. The books enjoyed a honeymoon of brief popularity, of course, but among some critics, whispers surfaced that the novelty of the idea had obscured an inherent limitation in the photography: No matter how beautiful his compositions, Wegman never could make his dogs look like anything other than dogs in human clothing. Fortunately, artist Ryan Berkley at Berkley Illustration knows no such ceiling. With uncanny portraiture and a style sense that would make Tim Gunn swoon, Berkley has made a name for himself by giving us such luminaries as the bowtied Blue Jay and the buckaroo T-Rex, the pipe-puffing Panda in Oxford smoking jacket and the sophomoric, sweater-vested Frog whose endearing look of naiveté gives new meaning to “green around the gills.” Consistent with the clothing-model sobriety of their expressions, Berkley also fits each animal with a description that is every bit as smart as the Windsor knot or bowler hat the animal proudly wears.
Some artists find a way to make the most of a moment. Berkley doesn’t have to—not when his portfolio is populated by so many classic characters. Heck, you might even find your own kin in this gallery: the Painted Turtle, perhaps, whose fez-tooned pragmatism reminds you of that feisty old uncle in the Shriners; or the Squirrel Lady, maybe, whose silk-and-bow self-confidence stirs memories of the big sister you had who’d sooner send a suitor packing than let him get fresh with her on a date. To anyone intent on picking one favorite, I can only say good luck. The good news if you do, however, is that Berkley Illustration just might let you have it. The winner of today’s giveaway will receive the print of his/her choice. To qualify, visit Berkley Illustration, then come back here to tell us about your favorite. Let us know in a second post if you to subscribe to Wishing Willow, since our subscribers receive an extra entry in the contest. (If you don't have a Google account, just click “anonymous” or "name" to leave a post. Please be sure to also leave your email address.) The winner will be chosen randomly. Contest ends 10/24/08.
**We have a winner! Mannequin who said, "EEEKKK. I don't believe it! I've had this bookmarked and I'm sure he has detected my drool all over his shoppe. I absolutely adore Billy Goat. What insight! What creativity! I am smitten." Congrats!***