In one year, the campaign has gathered about $100,000 in donations.
Posted in , May 28, 2021
California resident Ed Attanasio was running an ad agency and working as a writer when the Covid-19 pandemic began in 2020. In April, he was furloughed from his job and lost all his clients.
“I was in complete shock and thought, ‘What am I going to do to occupy my time?’” he told Guideposts.org.
He got a phone call from a friend who was quarantining with his family, asking him to draw some art for his kids. After drawing an abstract portrait of their Boston Terrier, word spread on social media and Attanasio began receiving requests from people who wanted drawings of their own pets.
“I said yes but I didn’t really want to charge,” he said. “I was just creating these art pieces to make people happy.”
That’s when he got the idea to launch the art campaign, Pandemic Pet Project.
People send photos of their pets to Attanasio through his Facebook page, he then creates one-of-a-kind artwork that is hand-drawn on a 3-by-3 Post-it Note and mails them out once they’re completed. Although the artwork is free, Attanasio asks people to pay it forward by making a minimum $50 donation to an animal rescue organization of their choice. Organizations such as Muttville in San Fransisco, California and Hands, Hearts & Paws in Omaha, Nebraska have received donations thanks to the Pandemic Pet Project.
Since launching Pandemic Pet Project, the artist has completed 1,600 drawings, estimating about $100,000 in donations to animal shelters all around the world. The portraits—of dogs, cats, reptiles, goats and horses—have been sent to all 50 states and 26 countries, including Israel, Ireland and Ecuador.
“The feedback I’ve received is unbelievable,” he says. “I get a lot of messages from people all over the world who tell me my drawings have made their day and it makes me really happy.”
Art is a form of therapy for Attanasio, who began drawing after having a stroke at age 50 in August 2009. After his speech therapist suggested that he engage his brain with activities, he began drawing on Post-It Notes for hours during his 14-month recovery.
“The art represents my personal renaissance, which includes significant life changes such as losing 120 lbs., eating healthier and swimming daily,” he said.
Attanasio credits the success of his art to guardian angels, who he says have “worked behind the scenes” throughout his artistic journey. “Every time I’ve announced that I would wrap it up, I’d receive signs or reasons not to,” he said. He noticed a pattern of dogs at Beauties and Beasts, a rescue in Wichita, Kansas, getting adopted just as their completed portraits would arrive. Not long after deciding to step aside from the campaign, he received an emotional phone call from a woman battling stage 3 lymphoma cancer who told him his drawings, which he posts on Facebook, are the highlight of her day.
“I’ve decided I will do this as long as people want me to,” he said. “I just want to help people and make a difference.”