|Since early childhood, Telia Fleming Hanks showed a very
obvious interest in two things ... animals and drawing animals. Throughout
her entire education, when given an artistic project, she would choose an
animal (usually a dog) as her subject whenever possible.
An Atlanta native, Telia (pronounced Tee-la) attended the Art Institute of
Atlanta, graduating with honors at the top of her Visual Communications
class and earning an Associate in Arts degree. Then it was on to the
nine-to-five world of small ad agencies as a graphics designer, where
after a while, she yearned for more 'artistic freedom'. (Translation: She
wanted to illustrate animals!)
Telia's love for dogs eventually extended into the world of dog shows
and competition in the obedience ring with her Dobermans. Seeing the
competition as a fun challenge, she earned high scores and titles with
three of her dogs, one being a formerly abused rescue case.
Word got out among her fellow trainers that she could 'really draw
dogs', so she began offering custom portraits, at first on a local basis.
In no time at all, she had more portraits than she could do, especially
prior to the holiday season. Her customers seemed to appreciate the
extreme detail of each piece, particularly the attention paid to capturing
the realistic expression in their pet's eyes.
Her custom portraits inspired her to further pursue other artistic
avenues in the canine world. With much help and encouragement from her
family, and the technical assistance of her father's printing company,
Telia's doggy images soon were being reproduced on greeting cards,
notepads and anything made of paper. Fascinated by seeing her own
illustrations mass produced and marketed, her canine business was born!
Beginning first with the German Shepherd Dog as her main artistic
focus, soon there were limited edition china collector plates, limited
edition prints and greeting cards. Her German Shepherds appeared so
realistic, she was hired by a well known dog food company to illustrate
one for an ad campaign.
More breeds soon became part of her growing collection including the
Doberman Pinscher, Rottweiler, and English and Irish Setters, each with
it's own line of merchandise.
In recent years Telia has added many more breeds to her ever increasing
list of canine giftware. As she adds to her reference files, she insists
on photographing all of her doggy subjects herself, giving better
understanding of each breed. The photography alone has become another of
her passions, opening , yet another creative door! She never passes up an
opportunity to capture a new subject. The approach is all hands-on from
reference photos, creation of artwork, to final product piece, while
husband Mark, a printer, manages much of the production process.
Her colorful collection of canine holiday greeting card designs have
proven to be a very popular line. Each holiday season since 1998, they
have graced the covers of Puttin' on The Dog catalog, well known for their
high-quality dog merchandise.
Telia and Mark reside in Loganville, Georgia with their three dogs -
Hope, a Doberman; Austin, a retired racing Greyhound; and Petey, a Whippet
along with two Pygmy goats, Fiddle and Cheeze. (Her goats even inspired
her to do a small collection of Pygmy Goat items).
Says Telia, "This is my calling. I can't imagine doing anything else
for a living!"