Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Interview - Meet Shannon - from etsy shop Pigatopia Studios

Not long after I first joined etsy and started to bookmark my favourite images I came across this very tender piglet painting and even more touching was the description that the little mite only lived for 15 days!
This was my first introduction to Shannon from etsy shop Pigatopia Studios. I was immediately captivated by her honesty and gentleness, and ofcourse her love of all beings porcine. Plus I also liked the delicate way she painted these noble sentient beings.

I now regularly visit Shannon's blog Pigatopia Studio's and have spent much time reading very informative articles on pig nutrition, pig rescues, pig welfare and many other pig issues, regardless of the fact that the only pigs I have are a collection of little money banks!

Shannon regularly has give-aways on her blog and I was lucky enough to participate in one, and to win a prize! I was only a winner because Shannon had carved each entrant's number onto an apple and then let her pigs choose a winning apple! How novel!

I had Wilma choose my 'apple' - isn't that so sweet - and she got to eat the apple aswell!

My prize was a watercolour painting of a subject of my choice done by Shannon. I knew immediately that I wanted to have a painting of a piggie!

Whilst reading Shannon's blog I came across the shockingly sad to happy story of Leila. I loved her beautiful face and gentle demeanour.

This is Leila after being rescued. She has bad wounds to hear body and face after being attacked. Her 'owners' did not want her back and the people who tried to keep her safe were told to 'shoot her and eat her'.

So, it was this photo of Shannon lovingly embracing very beautiful Leila after the lowest ebb in her life that I wanted Shannon to paint.
To me this picture embodies the true spirit of selfless love by those who care for all sentient beings and dedicate their lives to making another's life better.

When I received my painting in the post from America I was very happy indeed! Leila is looking strong and healthy and Shannon is sharing her hope and love!
Thank you kindly Shannon. This will always bring a tear to my eye and a warm feeling in my heart :)

I greatly admire Shannon's tireless rescue work and her deep love for pigs, so I asked her if she would like to answer a few questions for the wonderful folks who take time to stop by here.
Thankfully she said yes!
You have 12 pigs and 6 dogs? What are their names and where they did they come from?

I also had a kitty that was put to sleep a couple of months ago. She was 17 years old and her back gave out on her and she had no blood going to her back legs.
7 of the pigs and all 6 dogs come in and out of the house as they please.
Pigs -
Vinny is my first pigger. He came from a back yard breeder. (Very bad conditions). I had Vinny for about 5 years when I found out about someone who had one of his litter mates, Rosie, and wanted to find her a home. She started off as an outside pig and slowly became an inside pigger who now sleeps outside (by choice) once again.
We wanted a piglet so I called my friend Lynne Bosimer of Noah's Ark Potbellied Pig Sanctuary to help me find a piglet that needed a home. Now both Vinny and Rosie loved Wilma the piglet but they were not as active as her so I contacted Lynne again to find another piglet for Wilma to play with. That is how we got Pebbles.
Then we found out about a pregnant pig and a couple of her daughters that needed a home ASAP or they were going to be shot! We took mama and the twins and when mama had her piglets we kept 2 of them. So that is Big Mama, The Twins and Phread and Barney. We placed the rest of the piglets in awesome homes.
Then we rescued a pig - Piggly - who sleeps in our living room under the TV. His mommy rescued him from being snake food then decided after raising him for 7 years that she couldn't keep him and if I didn't take him she was going to let the neighbour eat him! She said - "I'd have pork chops for, like, a month from him"!!
Heidi and Olivia are both rescues that I took in so that they would not have to be shipped out of Florida when they lost their home.
I have rescued and saved over 27 pigs in 5 years.
Unfortunately I have had to bury some awesome friends.
Dogs -
The newest dog is Charlie. He is a 5 month old black Chow Chow. We rescued him from Webster, a car swap meet. A small scale animal rescue was out there trying to find homes for dogs.
He was well taken care of but needed a home.
Next is Runt. She is a small Shepherd, under 50lbs, and we found her running down the road. She walked in front of my car. The vet guessed she was about 2 months old then.
Then there is Vixin. She came from Friend of Stray's Animal Rescue. She is a 6-7 year old Border Collie.
Abby is a very large Jack Russel Terrier, about 8-9 years old. Abby came from ASPCA when she was 2 years old.
Sandy a Rottie/Pit mix and is 5 years old and spoiled. We have had Sandy since she was 6 weeks old. She was taken from a very bad family.
Bufford is a 4-5 year old American Bulldog. We went to rescue a pig and came back with a puppy!
I take Bufford and Runt to work with me every day. Everyone else just stays at home watching the house and pigs. ;8)
They love swimming every day and they catch and fetch tennis balls from the pool.
What animal organisations do you support - and why?
I started out just promoting Noah's Ark Potbellied Pig Sanctuary because they were the ones to teach me about my pigs and help when ever I had questions.
I now help many charities.
Blockhead Radio Live is a radio station that is for artists by artists. They have helped me learn how to promote my art and sell it.
I also help C.A.R. - Creative Animal Relief which is a sister site to Etsy For Animals - a group of artists trying to help animals in need.
I donate my art to many, many rescues, for example -
Handmade 4 Hounds - Artist helping greyhounds and sighthounds, based in Scotland
Rooterville - a pig placement network
Sandon Shangri La - a farm sanctuary
Pets Jubilee - an artist's sample gift box collection
Gallastar - an Equine Centre
AWBAR - Abandoned Wild babies Animal Rescue
Your tireless advocacy on behalf of the animals is amazing!
I have not been able to bring in any new rescues. I had to say no more, as I have to pay for the animals I have rescued already. I wish I could take more but it would not be fair to the animals I already have. That is why I donate tons of artwork to help animal rescues around the world.

Tell me about when you had your rabbit Jake.
I had Jake before I got so many dogs. He was the softest sweet bunny ever and I miss him very much. He was a rescue bunny who had had a bad home. He got to meet pigs Vinny and Rosie. He was 1 year old when I got him. The pigs were afraid of him because he moved in a motion they were not used to.
What is your full time job?
I run Simply Hydroponics and Organics North. We teach people how to garden inside and out. I love my job! I make art in my spare time.
A sleeping Black Labrador - check out the white whiskers!
How did your etsy shop come about?

I got started on etsy when I was trying to make extra money to pay for vet bills and raise money for Noah's Ark PBP Rescue at the same time.
A fellow piggie friend said to try etsy. I have been here ever since!
and when did you start to paint?
I started painting 2 years ago. I am self taught. I wanted to be able to make realistic 'pigtures' so I picked up a book and started sketching. I got good at cartoony stuff and slowly started doing more portraits.
Where does your inspiration come from for your painting subjects?

Usually my pigtures are made from pigtures people provide me with. I have been told I capture the soul of the animal. When I started doing memorial portraits people told me that it made the loss somehow easier for them.
I hope to continue doing portraits in the future. I have started designing tatoos as well.
Do you have a creating 'ritual'? if so - what is it?
I always start painting the eyes first.
I have to get the eyes right or I cannot move on to the the rest of the portrait.
I love doing watercolours the most but I have been doing airbrushing as well. I airbrushed my hubby's bike tank and tyre (tire) cover on my car. I love airbrushing tee shirts as well. I have recently done a few oil painting portaits, and while it takes a lot longer to dry, oil is very fun to work with.
I also love etching glass and wood burning. They are a little more tricky because I do them freehand and if you mess up you cannot erase it.
Where else do you sell / exhibit / show your work?
I have many websites going -
My etsy shop - Pigatopia Studios
My Artfire shop - Pigatopia Studios
My MadeByHand ByMe shop - Pigatopia by hand
My Deviant Art shop - Pigatopia
My Fine Art America site - Shannon
This is an etched glass cookie jar. Patches will be happy (and full!)

What is your favourite item in your etsy Pigatopia shop and why?

The "PIGATOPIA" book is my favorite because it is a real story.
Everyone who has read the book has loved it very, very much. The book allows you to follow the rescue animals around in every day life and see things from the animal's point of view.
Shannon's book is self illustrated aswell.

What do you collect? and why?
I collect pig stuff and car stuff. I grew up around race cars and I love piggers.
I have 3 favourite cars
- 1969 Camero
- 1979 Corvette
- 1963 Corvette
How many of your dreams have you achieved?
I have achieved a few amazing dreams. I have an awesome family and home. I graduated from college. I have made many friends and helped even more animals than I could have thought to have helped!
And any dreams you would like to share?
It helps me sleep at night knowing I am helping make a difference.
Anything you would like to add?

I would like to let any new people trying to start a business to keep in mind that it takes a little time to get started - do not give up!
You must find your niche or something that only you do or make.
Thanx, Shannon
I would like to thank Shannon for taking the time to answer my questions and for helping the animals that are so dear to her.
I love my painting and Shannon's skillful use of colour and light. Please visit her etsy shop if you would like a painting of your own and remember that all money raised goes directly to helping the animals.


  1. What a beautiful, wonderful, heartwarming post ~ just lovely to finish off the night with :)


  2. What a beautiful and longggggg post today :)
    So many lovely shots its fantastic,
    it makes my day ^____^

  3. I love that pigs in a blanket watercolor! (pun intended, I'm corny, I know.)

  4. I love this interview! I've always admired Shannon's work (she is talented in so many media!) and all she does to help animals, and it was great to find out more about her!

  5. How wonderful! I love her devotion and artwork for the piggies. Best of luck to her, and congratulations to you on winning one of her gorgeous pieces!

  6. I am a fan! What a wonderful, compassionate, talented artist and friend to the animals!!!! :0) Michele

  7. What a great interview. The piglet painting is my favorite.

  8. Wow!! So glad I took the time to read this amazing story and interview, so much love and compassion here, Thanks Annette for making this available.. Carol from faeriegood's shop @ etsy

  9. Thanks for doing this interview!!!!

  10. thank you all - for reading and for leaving such nice comments!

    I have been lucky to correspond with Shannon over time, and she is a hard working, tireless advocate of animals and enthusiastic painter and craftswoman - it has been my pleasure to write about her.

  11. Thanks for the interview Annette. I too greatly admire Shannon's work & devotion to her cause. The custom portraits which she donates to Handmade4Hounds are always very popular! So nice to learn more about the person behind the 'pigtures' ;-)

  12. awww thank you so very much you guys.

    and Thank You annette for the awesome post. I am so honored

    Shannon AKA Pigatopia

  13. Awww! little doggy looking at camera.. just lovely work!!


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