This previous March, through the preliminary spike in COVID-19 instances, Bowdoin alumna Amanda Newman ’19 launched Miss Manda Pet Portraits. Since then, she has listed over 300 merchandise on the market on her web site and has painted and drawn numerous customized pet portraits.
It was throughout her time at Bowdoin, as a visible arts minor, when she started exploring her ardour for the humanities and for sharing her work with others.
“On the finish of my senior yr, I used to be in a portray class that I actually beloved,” Newman mentioned in a cellphone interview with the Orient. “I made a decision to make a separate artwork Instagram and thought that possibly I’d promote some issues; possibly not.”
After experimenting with numerous topics and types, Newman discovered an sudden area of interest: pet portraits.
“I ended up simply making this portrait of my canine that individuals actually appreciated and wished of their very own pets,” Newman mentioned. “I took to that and simply went all in on pet portraits.”
Newman started portray pet portraits for family and friends, nevertheless it was solely in March when she started making commissions from the work.
“I did a little bit flash sale on my Instagram as a result of I simply wished one thing to do, so I used to be like, ‘The primary 5 individuals who message me, I’ll do a pet portrait for $10,’” Newman mentioned. “The 5 individuals went immediately just about, after which different individuals have been prepared to pay full value, in order that’s when it began.”
Newman, who was an English and schooling main, can also be a fourth-grade trainer within the Las Vegas space, and whereas she initially had ample time on her palms through the onset of distant studying in March, she now balances her enterprise with being a full-time educator.
“I’ve simply been making an attempt to construct it up slowly now,” Newman mentioned. “I’m in full-time, digital schooling so it’s simply principally what I do on the weekends and a little bit bit when I’ve the possibility, however I’m positively hoping to continue to grow.”
Whereas her portraits are primarily lighthearted, Newman additionally makes use of her distinctive platform to boost consciousness and funds for fairness and justice organizations. She has launched a Black Lives Matter pet sequence, one hundred pc of the income of which went to 100 Black Men of Las Vegas.
“I’m instructing in a low-income space, and simply seeing the inequalities in colleges and understanding how the zip code you’re born into actually impacts the schooling that you just get … has actually made me wish to discover methods to boost consciousness about these points,” Newman mentioned. “I’m completely happy that I can donate a portion of proceeds.”
Whereas Newman is pleased with what she has completed since March, she feels that COVID-19 restrictions have hindered her rising enterprise.
“I wish to ultimately transfer away from doing the customized artwork and do extra issues that anybody would purchase,” Newman mentioned. “I wish to go into pet outlets and begin doing little pop-up shows, however proper now, now we have a stay-at-home order. I’m fortunate that I nonetheless have my instructing job to maintain me, however [business development] is unquestionably one thing that I’ve been having to sort of placed on maintain.”
As Miss Manda continues to develop at a sluggish however regular price, Newman is grateful for the abilities that she has acquired at Bowdoin and finds herself making use of them to each her academic and her creative pursuits.
“Bowdoin has given me the flexibility to essentially work nicely with individuals and in addition to drawback remedy,” Newman mentioned. “These are issues that I’m taking with me in instructing, after which additionally hopefully sooner or later, after I’ll be working with individuals.”