Whether the pet is Mamma’s Girl or Daddy’s Boy, and especially if Mutts Rule at home, Holly Mathews has created those and other dog tag designs to make for classy collars.
Mathews, of Asheville, is the top-selling artist so far with Dog Tag Art, an Internet business in Asheville that Jack Carrier started in 2009. About 40 artists around the world have made a total of 430 designs available through www.dogtagart.com. Artists submit designs through the Web site for approval, and Carrier pays them $1 for each tag sold with their design.
Mathews, 35, enjoys the hip, humorous approach to pet ownership and art. “I’m a huge animal person anyway. I decided it would be a great way to get my artwork out there,” she says. “I love the fact that it’s local. I really love to support local businesses.”
Pet owners have bought more than 200 of her designs, which also are feline-friendly. “It’s really cool to know there are 200 animals around the world somewhere wearing dog and cat tags I’ve designed,” Mathews says. “It’s very validating to know people out there appreciate the artwork I’ve done.”
Several people have sent photos of dogs wearing her designs to the Dog Tag Art Web site. One puppy sports a “Bad to the Bone” tag with a skull and crossbones in the center.
Mathews hasn’t had to go far for inspiration for her 40 designs. Her dogs, Bella and Buddy, provide plenty of fodder. “Talk to the Paw!” is a design Mathews created with Bella, a border collie and spaniel mix, in mind. “She’s got almost a teenage girl attitude sometimes. She definitely rules the roost,” says Mathews, a longtime graphic designer with Golf Associates in Asheville.
Another design, “Member of HDA — Hole Diggers Anonymous,” was inspired by Buddy, a corgi mix, whose determination to catch moles drives him to dig in Mathews’ backyard.
Mathews, who grew up in Canton, studied art education at Western Carolina University and commercial art and advertising design at Southwestern Community College.
She recruited her sister, Carrie, of Asheville, and friends in the area to design tags for Dog Tag Art.
“There are so many pet lovers out there that are always looking for something different for their pets. They’ve got all those generic tags you can get in a pet store. Just for a couple of dollars more, you can get one that’s personalized and has unique art on it,” Mathews says.
In some cases, if Mathews’ tag fits, people wear it themselves. A woman told Mathews she planned to buy the “Warning - Ankle biter” design for herself. Others have expressed interest in wearing another Bella-inspired design, “HBIC - Head Bitch in Charge.”