Pawblo Picasso®

Melissa posing with Burton the leonberger outside of her studio in Somerville (credit: Pamela Isaacson)

In 2011 Melissa started a business creating custom painted pet portraits called, Pawblo Picasso®. The business supported Melissa financially while she built up her conservation experience prior to attending graduate school. She sold over 500 portraits to clients worldwide, and still has a large social media presence. She earned her success through active social media use, creative marketing campaigns, vending at craft markets, and engaging with the public through live painting performances.

Owning a business helped Melissa develop many valuable skills:

  • Client communication
  • Time management
  • Bookkeeping
  • Graphic design
  • Photography
  • Fundraising through sponsorship
  • Working with charitable foundations
  • Writing press releases
  • TV and newspaper interviews
  • Employee Management
  • Working with lawyers for contract development
  • Wholesale product development
  • Collaboration with complimentary industry professionals
  • Knowledge about various art processes by being an active member of a diverse artist studio building

Since Melissa was working concurrently in art conservation, she incorporated a lot of preventive conservation thinking into her work. She did this by constantly reevaluating the way she packed and shipped paintings, and including care instructions and backing boards on all of her paintings. She was motivated to foster the conversation between artists and art conservators with her project, “Creating Art to Last: A Conversation with Art Conservators.”

With preventive conservation on her mind, Melissa included backing boards and care instructions for all of her paintings and advertised her preventive approach to potential clients.