LATHAM, NY (NEWS10) — A Latham-based artist turned her passion for pop art into a full-time job, and it was all inspired by her dog, Chevy.

“Everyone likes it; they, they do,” Whitney Hawkins, the artist behind What’s the Kitsch, said, “And how fun is it to see your pet in a Gucci bag or a pair of Birkenstocks, isn’t it? not?

At the height of the pandemic, Hawkins turned to the computer to escape. She put Chevy in classic Andy Warhol squares and posted the piece on Instagram.

Hawkin’s friends and family took a liking to his quirky digital art and began sending him pictures of their animals to turn into pop art. From there, people followed her creations on social media and orders came in.

She said ‘quarantine pets’ were key to kick-starting her self-taught hobby into a full-time business – What’s Kitsch.

“I think it was a time when people needed to laugh and have fun. And we needed color and life,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins hosts pop-up events across the country and in its own backyard. She sold her work to the Beekman Arts Festival and Art in the Park presented Saratoga Arts. She has created for celebrities like country singer Chris Young and television personality Carson Kressley.

When customers pay for her service, they send a photo of a pet and fill out her personalization sheet. From putting a pet on safari to wearing her owner’s favorite baseball jersey, Hawkins said what makes her pieces extra special is the time she takes to put them on. details.

Hawkins said the best part of her artistic journey was meeting other female entrepreneurs. Every week, she goes to June Farms Dog Park Night with professional photographer Morgan Campbell. Campbell takes the snaps and Whitney turns them into art.

Hawkins also created a meetup for business-minded women called “Small Business Sunday.” It grew to include Saratoga Bachelorette owner Lindsey, Amanda Dugan of Forty One Park and Chelsea Kane of Kanes Fine Wine.

But Hawkins didn’t stop there. She partnered with Saratoga Arts to develop the idea and host Small Business Sunday at the center beginning in October. She said everyone would be invited.

“Women are the backbone of society, of this world,” Hawkins said. “We need to help each other and strengthen each other in the community.”

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