We have an artist we cannot wait for you to meet! This creative mind is also extremely giving; JP Kilkenny donates 7% of sales to help keep stray dogs healthy and cared for. If that is not enough to make your heart feel warm and fuzzy, the name of his company, Oliver and Mabel is named after JP’s own adopted dog, Oliver, seen above. How sweet? You can truly feel his love for dogs and all animals by looking at the bright and whimsical designs.
The latest employee and newest member of the family is Petey. JP shared Petey’s story and it had a few of us at our desks in tears! Hint: grab a tissue!
“Petey is known by the state troopers in our area as “Red”. Apparently someone dropped him off and abandoned him on the interstate. For over a month and a half, he returned everyday and waited for hours – in the spot he was dropped off for his owner to return for him. The State troopers did not have the heart to pick him up (as they knew he would be destroyed) – so they looked for him everyday and threw hamburgers out their windows for him to eat.
Beginning of December – my photographer called me about the dog (Petey) that was hanging out at his business. He was very thin, skittish and shaking with the cold. He was sleeping outside under wet leaves near their heating oil tank. That was all I needed to hear. After a month of going back and fourth – providing an igloo and food twice a day, – I could not take it any longer – so on Christmas morning we went and brought him home. Oliver immediately adopted Petey as his brother – they sleep, eat and play together.
You will be seeing him in future artwork.”
As if we needed another reason to love JP and his amazing company! The work he does is truly amazing and we are beyond excited to share it with all of you.
Name: JP Kilkenny
Business: Oliver & Mabel
How would you define the style philosophy of your work?
Oliver and Mabel all started when a little stray puppy came and sat at my feet and leaned against my leg. . This little guy was so full of love and wonder that he captivated our hearts. Oliver inspired me to “give something back” by “paying it forward”. It was at that moment that Oliver and Mabel was created. Not only do we donate part of our profits to the rescue and welfare of stray, unwanted dogs but promote a universal message of love and respect for all creatures, embracing those who need our help and assisting them on their journey to a better life.
Why did you choose to create children’s art?
If you want to make an impact on society what better way than through our children. It is important to me that every child has the opportunity to express their imagination and their independence. In “Butterfly Girl” or “Kite Boy” – I want a child to gaze into the piece and loose themselves in a land of wonder and limitless possibilities.
What is your favorite part of your daily work when you reflect on the day, what is the most rewarding?
It’s usually in the early afternoon when I am sat at my desk, focused on the project in front of me. Music in the background, pups fast asleep after their walk. I am focused on the image in my mind and painting without distraction.
What sets your art apart from others in your industry?
There are so many talented artists out there who are developing great images for children. I feel that my work has a “voice”. It’s not only a pretty picture but carries a positive message that communicates to children across the globe. The paintings are timeless and can be passed on from one generation to another. I hope the children of today will see a butterfly or a kite or a dog years from now and remember my painting that hung on their childhood bedroom wall that expanded their horizons and gave them joy and wonder.
If you had to pick a favorite piece from your collection what would it be?
POP DOG is my favorite piece. The idea came to me in a whirlwind. The image was so clear in my mind that I was able to break it down into steps and compose it like a jigsaw. I wanted the piece to be interactive, educational and fun. Oliver – takes center stage – but represents all our dogs. Children can color-in the image to match their own doggie at home – or imaginary best friend. Along side the dog image are words that your child can learn how to spell that are associated with their pooch – ex. SIT, BONE, WOOF, e.t.c Children can also seek out the bones in the painting and count how many there are.
Do you have any news that you would like to share, perhaps about upcoming lines or introductions to your line?
I am always working on new ideas. Besides developing more artwork, I am currently working on a line of T-shirts, pillows and small wire sculptures. I am thinking about writing and illustrating a children’s book using my pups as the main characters.
Now, just for fun:
Cheese! I could have cheese with anything. Unfortunately I am one of those “fussy” eaters and have not eaten meat in over 30 years – but give me a piece of cheese and I am perfectly content.
Favorite TV show?
No matter what I am doing – where I am – everything must stop for Project Runway! I love to watch the creation of a garment from idea to runway ready. I am constantly inspired not only by their creations but their speed and focus meeting their short deadline.
My favorite and first movie I ever saw was Mary Poppins. I remember the whole experience – My father took me to a beautiful red and gilded cinema in Yorkshire, England. I was completely mesmerized by the film – captivated by the colors – animation and music. As soon as I got home, I started drawing characters for my own imaginary world, creating elaborate stories – all set to the music of Mary Poppins.
Favorite weekend activity?
There is nothing better than being able to paint the weekend through. My family all around me – pups snuggled on the sofa, watching old black and white movies, the smell of food cooking. I love to be deeply engrossed in a painting and to look up to see everyone snoozing and content. There’s nothing better!
I cannot say that I have one favorite band in particular. I listen to all types of music from English Nun’s chanting to Island Reggae to current Pop to 80’s New Wave. It really all depends on the mood I am in at the time. For the past couple of years I have been obsessed with French music. Most of the time I cannot understand what they are singing about but the language is so beautiful to hear. I am able to paint/create without the influence of lyrics yet I can feel the mood of the song and the spirit of the French culture.
Great art and a great cause! Oliver and Mabel offers original and inspiring kids art that will fill your nursery or playroom with instant joy anytime you look at your piece and remember this heart warming story!