This week, we are having a little chat with a charming couple named Kirby and Cindy Pringle. They live in Tuscola, Il with their adopted Boxer Finnegan. The goal of their shop "Dogtown Artworks," is "To bring joy to people's lives through their words and art." Their quirky humor brought joy to this writer and I hope to you as well. Enjoy the art talk with the Pringles.
We've always been connected to wildlife and nature. That's one of the things that attracted us to each other more than 25 years ago. Hiking is a tradition for us that never gets old. We try to go on a hike every weekend (although we don't keep up that pace in the winter).
Both Cindy and I grew up with dogs as part of our families. Neither of us can imagine it any other way. When we got engaged, before we settled on the details of our wedding, we picked out a dog. It was so important to us to have a pet as part of our household before anything else.
Later, when we adopted two boxers, Barney and Buster, we decided to incorporate them into our artwork. Actually, we built our artwork around them. We had always been photographers, and Cindy specialized in hand-colored black-and-white photography before we created our “dog people” images. Cindy always liked to make me birthday cards. At one point, she photographed me wearing a bathrobe and standing in the woods smoking a cigar (I don't actually smoke, but it seemed like a good idea for the photo). Then she decided to take a photo of our boxer wearing the same bathrobe. She replaced my head with our boxer's head, and it was just hilarious. We couldn't stop laughing. Besides, I look better with a dog head, so we just kept going.
We have specialized in creating “dog people” — canines with humanlike qualities. We use our own dogs as our models and we take all aspects of the photos. We've published three books since 2006 and the first two have sold out and no longer in print. Only our last book, “The Butterfly That Would Not Fly,” remains available.
It was a real team effort with Barney and Buster and they were natural models. They would hold things in their mouths, wear wigs, hats and other articles of clothing — all while holding very still and giving great looks to the camera. And they enjoyed modeling because they were always rewarded with treats.
We work in photography, although we have gotten more into video over the last few years and see ourselves heading in that direction in the future. Cindy enjoys making butterfly pins, using vintage buttons, and doing small paintings.
We have owned 6 dogs over the past 25 years, 5 boxers and 1 Doberman. All have been adopted. We believe strongly in adoption and will always adopt our pets. It seems like all of our pets have found us instead of us finding them. All had their own unique and special personalities and we treasure our time with all of them.
We have been working together as artists for more than 25 years.
Cindy and I are also monarch butterfly conservationists and we travel around the Midwest giving presentations on the declining population of monarchs and what people can do to reverse the trend. We've made an acclaimed documentary film, “Plight of the Monarchs,” and have it available on YouTube and on our website.
We raise and release monarch butterflies to help boost the population and for educational purposes. We find all the monarchs as caterpillars in the wild and raise them to adulthood and then release them. We have raised and released more than 800 monarchs over the past two years.
We also take monarch caterpillar and butterfly photographs and Cindy makes monarch butterfly jewelry (pins and necklaces).
Kirby has always admired and loved Native American culture and art, and over the past two years he has been restoring vintage photographs from the 1890 to 1920 period that are available in our Etsy Store.
Cindy: I would be a crow. I've always loved the idea of flight and I've had a long love affair with crows because they are so smart and full of personality. We have a group of about 5 to 8 crows (it varies) that I feed peanuts to nearly every day. They love peanuts!
Kirby: I'm with Cindy on being a bird. But just to be a little different, I would choose to be either a bluejay or a nighthawk. I love the character of a bluejay, but I'm fascinated with how nighthawks fly and make these incredible, steep plunges from the sky for food. It would be fun to try sometime.
Visit the Pringles here: