Featured Artist: Scott Blades

November 22, 2011  

StubbyDog chats with Skull Soup artist and graphic designer Scott Blades about his art and rescue work

Q: Can you tell StubbyDog readers about your path to becoming an artist?

A: I think I have always known I wanted to be an artist. When I was a freshman in high school, I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in art. Eventually, I decided on graphic design. I went to California University, where I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in graphic design. Other than my degree, I haven’t had a significant amount of formal training. I dabble in a few different mediums that allow me the freedom and flexibility to experiment.

Q: Tell us about the first item you donated to a charity auction.

A: The first painting was a donation to Hello Bully’s Lover Not Fighter Gala. I donated a painting of Sucre, one of the dogs from the Ohio 200 case. Unfortunately, Sucre passed away in December of 2010. I know people who were involved in the care of the Ohio 200, how hard they worked for the dogs and how they were impacted by them. I wanted to create a piece that would commemorate Sucre’s life off the chain, no matter how short that life was.

Q: What about some of the other pieces you have donated?

A: Most of the donations I have made have been custom paintings, but since I work in a few different mediums, I have also donated metal belt buckles, metal pendants and etched vintage bottles with rescue logos adorned. Most of my items are made from up-cycled or recycled metal and other materials, and all are handcrafted.

Q: You were commissioned to do a painting of Taijah, who recently was featured in a StubbyDog article. Taijah is a very special pit bull who is battling cancer. Taijah’s guardian, Darcy, was presented with the painting as a gift. What was that process like for you, meeting Darcy?

A: On most occasions when I work on a custom painting, the only connection I get to have is with the photo. Often a strong connection to the piece is formed just by working closely with the photograph, but I don’t always get to meet the animal or even the person who I’m doing the painting for. I had never met Darcy before the day she was given the painting, and there was no formal presentation. She actually just walked up to me with the painting in her hands exclaiming how much she loved it. It was only after a minute or so that she told me who she was and all about Taijah and her story. Since I don’t always get to see people’s reactions, it was a really amazing experience getting to see her experience the painting right in front of me. To have something as simple as glass and paint transform into something so special for someone is a really cool thing to experience.

Q: Why do you support pit bull rescue?

A: Because it’s a good cause. With my art I try to tell the story of the dog’s life. Pit bulls make great subjects because they have very expressive faces. It’s easy to capture their personalities and translate them into realistic pieces. I have painted several former fighting dogs, and their scars make an impact through paint. I hope my work causes people to stop and think about the life they formerly led. I try to choose pieces that will capture the pit bull spirit and will speak to people.

In my own volunteer experience, I have met some really great pit bulls. There’s one in particular, Indie, I think about often. I spent so much time with her, and the sad thing is there are too many cases like hers. She had such a hard life with no opportunity to be a real dog. She had so much potential, but she was that dog that never got a chance – a chance to have a life and to be more than a just a dog on a chain or a dog that fights. Rescue work is hard, so it’s important to celebrate the victories no matter how small those victories are. My paintings are a way to celebrate that life, not just the dogs that you lost, but also the ones that you save.

Q: Can you tell us about some of your volunteer experiences?

A: Even though volunteering has been a short part of my life, it has been a big part of it. I’ve met some really great people and good friends through volunteering. I have been able to meet some really great dogs along the way, too. I’ve done a few different things from walking dogs at a shelter to assisting with 911 calls that literally rescue dogs off of the street. Sometimes I forget that the work can be done in indirect ways, like supporting rescues through art donations, or in the direct ways, like running, playing and spending time with dogs that have just been rescued from horrific conditions.

The first pit bull painting I did was of a sweet pit bull I rescued, Mona. For two days, my girlfriend tried to rescue Mona and her companion, Monte, a Jack Russell Terrier. We believe they were dropped off in our neighborhood, discarded like garbage. For two days they stayed in the area, but they were excellent escape artists. On the second day, my girlfriend called me to say she wasn’t going to give up on finding them, that in the 90-degree weather they couldn’t have gotten far and were probably getting weak. I had two choices, to either let her go on foot by herself or to join her; I chose the second option.

Together we walked through our neighborhood, looking through yards, alleys, behind trashcans and empty buildings. After searching, we saw the pit bull resting in someone’s backyard. We felt hopeful – the fence was open, and we had found her. After we were granted permission from the property owners, we entered the backyard to rescue Mona. But she wouldn’t budge. She wouldn’t leave the yard. She tugged on her leash. We realized that her companion, the Jack Russell, was also in the yard, hiding under the porch – Mona was so loyal and so faithful, even though she had been on the run for two days and had an injured leg. The property owners wanted to keep the Jack Russell, but they had no problem with us removing the pit bull. Fortunately for both of the dogs, we were able to take them to the shelter. This was just one of the moments when I got to see how differently pit bulls are treated.

Q: You donated a painting of Sarge for the StubbyDog auction. What made Sarge an interesting subject?

A: I decided to donate a painting of Sarge because it seemed like a good way for me to help celebrate his life. I know Sarge touched so many lives. He helped spread the positive word about pit bulls and to change the way people perceived pit bulls. So many people followed Sarge’s Facebook postings and looked forward to each day that he would post a funny video or picture or a thought-provoking question. Sarge made an excellent subject because he not only celebrated the imperfections in life but also its simple beauty.

Join Skull Soup on Facebook or view his work on Etsy.

« « Thanksgiving! | Paloma » »

Comments are closed.