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An interview with Animal Portrait Artist Peggy Dey

Peggy Dey of Dey by Dey studio has been creating animal art, including unique and heartwarming pet portraits and wildlife prints, for more than 30 years.  A long-time animal advocate whose work has been showcased by numerous animal rescue organizations, Dey is a good friend to Our Place to Paws.

Dey took some time to answer some questions about her love of animals and how she translates her special feeling for them into unforgettable portraits, on everything from traditional canvas to emu eggs.  She also admits just how many rescues she and her husband, Derryl, and son, Christopher, house in or around their North Carolina home.

OPTP: First, tell us a little about your history as an artist, and what media and subjects you work with.

Dey: I think I have been involved with art since birth.  It was always my refuge and my release.  Animals were my favorite subjects.  They never judged the final protrait as having too big of a nose or too tall of a forehead.  Never once did one say "hey, that doesn't look like me!"  I have expanded my media handling over the years to include acrylics, pastels, watercolors, clay, oils, charcoal, inks, even frosting!  My surfaces include the obvious canvas and paper but also slate, ostrich and emu eggs and most recently cement for companion animal gravestones.

OPTP: I know that in addition to being an artist, you've been very active in numerous animal rescue efforts.  What kind of events or organizations do you participate in?

Dey:  Any local non-profit animal welfare organization can count on me, in person, to be there when possible at a fund raising event, even if they just need me to hold a leash, as rescue animals have been a part of my life for over 30 years and I know all hands can make a difference in finding them loving, permanent homes.  I also frequently donate either a portrait or a certificate for a portrait to not only local organizations, but national ones as well, whenever my schedule will allow the time to dedicate to the donated work.  My most recent donations have been to the Ohio Greyhound Rescue, Chatham Animal Rescue and Education of North Carolina, The Animal Protection Society of Durham, North Carolina, and Defenders of Wildlife, a national organization dedicated to wildlife conservation and protection.


OPTP: When did you open Dey by Dey studio?

Dey:  Formally, October 2006

OPTP: People have had some very special reactions to portraits you've done.  Can you describe any?

Dey:  Most people have been very pleased, several openly weeping when I can give them a memory of a departed beloved companion.  It is one of the main reasons I love what I do and why I try to keep my prices reasonable for every person who ever loved an animal or had an animal impact their life.

OPTP: Tell us about your "Giving forward by giving back" program, involving donations to non-profit organizations.

Dey:  10% of every commissioned work is "given back" to an animal welfare organization of the client's choosing.  This allows the non-profit "painless" fund raising, support for future efforts in helping all animals, and a great feeling of giving for the client.  The non-profit receives the donation as well as a card featuring the commissioned work mentioning the person(s) and pet who made the donation possible.  The client (or if the work was a gift - the recipient of the portrait) receives a card as well to let them know their portrait has "given back". 

OPTP: How many animals do you have in your house at the moment, and are they all rescues?

Dey:  OK, let me just mention I like to hold the illusion that my family and I are all still reasonably sane.  However, we do understand "normal people" might not view us the same way.  Because we get a lot of "dump off" animals where we live, we have found that those who are not adoptable are best off with us.  We also work with Wildlife Welfare of Raleigh rehabbing wildlife, so we have a few extra critters most people might not consider for companionship.  So, now that the seven puppies and their mom from the holiday crisis have been placed, we are down to only 14 cats, two dogs, five birds, seven opossums, 50 gallons of fish and several squirrels. Except for the fish, the rest are all rescues.  I still consider us sane...right?  At least I keep saying that to myself.

OPTP: Can you do portraits for clients all over the country, or just locally?

Dey:  All over the country.  If I can ship it there I consider them local.

OPTP: If someone wants to get in touch with you, how do they do it?

Dey:  (919) 542-1099; deybydeystudio@aol.com or drop by the Web site at www.deybydeystudio.com.  I look forward to human interaction once in a while, so please feel free to call or write!

OPTP: Thank you, Peggy!


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