Illustrator Jesse Creates Beautiful Pet Portraits And Tattoos

Jesse’s Pet Portraits Are A Unique Way To Commemorate Your BFF

By The Get Leashed Goods Team

Photo: Jesse’s Pet Portaits


Art is subjective and emotional, and when you see an artist’s work who you just click with, it can lead to tattoo magic. Pet tattoos are popular in various styles, from paw prints to portraits. Even if permanent ink is not for you, there’s no denying the talent behind pet portrait illustrations. When we discovered Jesse’s Pet Portraits, based in Toronto, we fell in love with her style and the character shining through each creation. We had the chance to chat with Jesse on what inspires her and get some advice for anyone seeking to permanently have their pet’s image with them.

Read our interview with Jesse below:

Photo: Jesse’s Pet Portaits

Get Leashed: Have you always been an animal lover?

Photo: Jesse’s Pet Portaits


Jesse: Definitely! I always had pets growing up, and was very empathetic to animals at a young age.


Can you tell us about your own pets or animals in your life?

Photo: Jesse’s Pet Portaits

My work colleague has two adorable rescue dogs, Maeve and Dolly, who are so sweet. I love it when they’re at work, and I even get to puppy-sit sometimes! So many of my friends have dogs and I can’t wait until I’m ready for my own!

What inspired you to start creating pet portraits for others?

Photo: Jesse’s Pet Portaits


When my family dog, Hooch, passed away a year ago I decided to draw his portrait for my dad. Hooch lived a great 16 years and was loved by everyone in the family, but my dad and I were especially attached to him. I saw how happy the portrait made him and I wanted to be able to bring that joy to other pet owners.

How did your love of art lead into tattooing?

Photo: Jesse’s Pet Portaits

I’ve been drawing as long as I can remember. It was always my strongest subject in school. I got my first tattoo in my teens and just loved it. I love tattoos and tattoo culture, and I’m so glad the two lend themselves to each other. I’ve explored different artistic avenues before (studied fashion design, did embroidery and even worked as a florist) but now that I’m doing pet portraits and tattoos I realize this is what I’ve always wanted to do.

We love how you mix pop culture with pet portraits (hello, ground control to major dog is brilliant!) How do you find your inspiration?

Photo: Jesse’s Pet Portaits

Haha, thank you! Sometimes ideas just come to me, I’m a big fan of puns. Other times my friends will say something funny and I think “that would be a good drawing”. I’m always writing down ideas to look back on later.

Can you tell us about some of your most memorable portrait assignments?

Photo: Jesse’s Pet Portaits

Each assignment is different and special in its own way, just like each pet is. I’m extra touched when the owner gets emotional when they see what I’ve drawn for them, it’s the biggest compliment. I obviously love when I get to meet the pets too!

Who is harder to capture in portraits: dogs or cats?

Photo: Jesse’s Pet Portaits

Overall they’re pretty similar! When a pet is light in color, with little contrast, that’s harder. In any case, it really helps to have clear, high contrast photos to draw from.

What advice would you give someone looking to have a special pet tattoo done?

Photo: Jesse’s Pet Portaits

I would say take your time, find an artist whose style really resonates with you. You already know you love your pet, and will not regret having them on you, so decide whether you want realism, traditional, black and grey, color etc.

Finally, what does someone need to provide to have their pet’s portrait created by you? Do you do international commissions?

Photo: Jesse’s Pet Portaits

All you need is your favorite clear, front facing photo of your pet. If there’s anything specific you’d like included (maybe a favorite toy or the national flower of where they’re from), that’s a bonus! Yes I do! I ship internationally, but I also take orders for a digital copies of portraits.

Photo: Jesse’s Pet Portaits

See more of Jesse’s work on Facebook or email her at jesseca.sousa@gmail.com for a commissioned piece.