Luke finds the art of business success in dog paintings

PUBLISHED: 08:00 05 September 2020

Some of the dog portraits created by Luke Emery's business. Picture; Luke Emery

Some of the dog portraits created by Luke Emery's business. Picture; Luke Emery

Luke Emery

An entrepreneurial former Sidmouth College student is enjoying his most satisfying venture yet – creating Renaissance-style portraits of people’s dogs.

Customers of Luke Emery’s business Vanwoof.com upload a photo of their pet to the website, and receive a canvas print of the animal dressed in historical finery.

The business sells its pictures all over the world – and yet it began as a two-week challenge.

Mr Emery explained that he and a friend, with whom he runs a business podcast, decided to see if they could make money in just two weeks from the e-commerce site Etsy, which specialises in handmade or crafted items.

He said: “I decided to do these dog portraits because I am good with Photoshop and am a big dog lover.

“I always had pets growing up, so knew the market for pet art was massive and after doing research I realised that it had massive potential.”

He now sells more than 150 portraits a month and has two full-time designers. The canvasses are printed in the US, UK, Europe and Australia, enabling him to print and deliver anywhere in the world – but his biggest market is the US where there is a high demand for novelty art.

He said: “I have been running e-commerce businesses for two years, and this has been the most satisfying because every customer loves their artwork.”

The popularity of the portraits spiked during lockdown, and received another boost a few days ago when a famous American journalist bought a portrait and tweeted a photo of it to her 550,000 Twitter followers.

Mr Emery is hoping his story will inspire other would-be entrepreneurs.

He said: “If you have an idea, create a minimum viable product and test it in the market to see if people want it.

“It’s so easy to create a website and run ads that you can very quickly test a product or service.

“You can keep adopting your idea and learning from the failures as you go.

“Most businesses aren’t created from a perfectly planned idea - they are an accumulation of adjusted failures.

“Not acting is the only guaranteed way you will not start a business. It’s best to start failing as fast as possible, so you can learn how to do it correctly.”


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