Tara Narbonne Interview
About Tara Narbonne:
After living in Montreal for ten years while earning a Masters in Art Therapy, Tara now calls Toronto her home. She has been painting portraits, landscapes, and animals for 15 years, and after seeing the look on pet lovers faces when given a portrait of their pet, she decided to devote her time to custom pet portraits. Now what was once a hobby has become an integral and rewarding part of her career.
She knows how much pets mean to their owners, as her pets have meant so much to her, and she believes that there is no better way to show your love than by hanging a portrait of your beloved pet right in your own home.
When did you decide to become an artist?
I started painting in high school and fell in love with painting people portraits. I continued creating art in University where I majored in studio arts, and then pursued a Masters in Art Therapy, all throughout I continued to paint portraits of everyone I knew. However, about three years ago I began selling my artwork, and now I get both pet portrait and people portrait commissions.
What artist or artists inspired you?
Frida Kahlo has always inspired me because I really respect the honesty in her artwork. She used her art as her own therapy to get through her pain and circumstance, and she was very driven to do so.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of being your own boss rather than displaying your work in galleries?
The advantages of being my own boss is that I can make my own decisions as to how I want to run my business and how I work. I’ve never really been interested in showing my work in a gallery, and due to the type of business I have it’s not necessary to do so.
You are an all around great artist and your portraits are beautiful, why did you decide on pet portraits?
A few years ago I didn’t know what to give my boyfriend’s parents for Christmas, and after thinking about it for a while I decided to paint a portrait of their dog. From there it really just took on a life of its own. People saw the painting or heard that I was painting pets, and began asking me to paint their cats and dogs for gifts or for themselves. I really just stumbled into the niche of pet portraits.
How has technology benefited you as an artist?
Social media has been quite a useful tool for advertising. So much of my business has been through word of mouth and Facebook has actually been the most beneficial marketing tool so far. Online articles and interviews that I’ve had done about my Pet Portraits have also helped to get my name out there.
What are some innovative things that you’ve done to get noticed and/or use your talents for the greater good?
I have some of my portraits hanging in a Veterinary Clinic, and I continue to donate Pet Portraits to various charities including Haiti Ground Relief, Gems of Hope, and Heartbeats for Africa, a fundraising art show and auction with all proceeds donated to the Stephen Lewis Foundation.
How have you managed to set yourself apart from the competition?
I wanted to create pet portraits that were not just replicas of a photograph, but more of a light-hearted or whimsical tribute to the pets. I love focusing on those moments when a pet is doing something that they shouldn’t be doing, or when they give that certain look that only they could give. I’m also very open to painting whatever an individual would like, such as a cat painted in the style of Obama’s Hope poster, and a cat painted as the Virgin Mary. I love it when people come to me with odd and interesting concepts.
What’s next for Pet Portraits and Tara Narbonne?
I plan to keep on painting as many pets as possible, and look forward to receiving a commission to paint a goldfish or a reptile of some sort!