Designer Tein Traniello makes customised petportraits
“Creating these personal portraits make me such a happier person”

Graphic designer Tein Traniello from Amsterdam eternalizes pets in a very special manner. He makes digital animal portraits with the style of the Dutch master painters and French impressionists from the seventeenth century.

We meet up with designer and art director Tein at his studio in the Blokmakerstraat in Amsterdam. Blond labradoodle, called Ventje (means little guy in Dutch), who always accompanies his human to work, lies on his carpet relaxing after his great walk with the dog walker. Just above Ventje hangs a magnificent portrait of the dog with a beret on the wall. “This was my first L’Animorphe”, Tein says. “Here it all started. I have an extremely good bond with my dog. I really don’t want to think about it when he someday might not be here anymore. But should he die, I would like to have this portrait on my wall as a remembrance”. Tein photo shopped the characteristic head of Ventje in a Dutch master painter and processed the image in such a way that it looked like an oil painting. After that he placed the photo on a Facebook page of Ventje (Ventje McDoodle). The reactions from Tein’s friends were so enthusiastic, that he received requests  to also portrait their dog or cat. One after another assignments came in. After that Tein was allowed to exhibit his first works in café in Amsterdam; international design blogs wrote about his work and he also became known internationally. Because even in America one can find L’Animorphes.

Secretly flirting with dogs
Tein has always had a soft spot for dogs. That’s why is not surprising that he has moved into that direction with his work. “Last year I became 40. Then I decided: now I want to make something where my heart lies. A project in which I am the boss and can make choices. For too long I have made graphic work which didn’t always make me happy. With L’Animorphe I can totally express myself creatively, especially because I am working with animals. I have always had something with animals, already for a long time they form an inspirational source for me. Especially dogs I really like. For many years I secretly flirt with them on the street. I really have a click with them”.

A portrait with little wink
In the meanwhile already several owners have a unique personal portrait of their pet hanging on their wall. “I try to capture the love for the animal. But also I try to bring the character into the portrait. And when possible, with humor and a wink. I absolutely don’t call it art what I make, I will do with sentimental curiosa. I make digital adaptations that look like an oil painting, animal heads on human bodies. The Rijksmuseum has released the whole archive of old master painters which I can use. I make portraits of living animals, animals that are nearing their end and of animals that are not here anymore. I do this on the basis of provided photographs”.

Special portrait gallery
A special dog that Tein has recently portrayed is that of Bully. “He had just been operated on and missed one eye. Very sad. Bully is an old dog that has lived the major part of his life. His owner very much wanted for me to make a L’Animorphe for her. She sent me a photo of Bully, with one eye. I was hesitating about what to do: put another eye in the portrait? Or let Bully look like a pirate? Then I came across a fun type of hat, the shadow exactly fell over the missing eye. You can see it if you look closely, but it doesn’t attract attention. That lady had to cry for joy when she saw the portrait”.
Tein shows a painting of a cat in uniform. “This is Loki, ‘the terrorist’. He dominates the whole family. It’s a Norwegian wildcat, fairly large, with an intense personality. I liked to portray him in a General’s attire, photographed slightly from under upwards, so that he looks down at everybody”. Another special animal portrait was of a bulldog that was very ill. “His owner has having him put to sleep the next day. She sent me a photo which I really couldn’t do much with. The dog was lying on a cushion and had only half of his mouth still left. But, I didn’t want to put a mouth of another dog on the portrait, because who can say what it looked like in real life? Then I found a collar in my archive, which fell just beautifully over the mouth. The owner thought her dog was captured wonderfully. Her reaction meant a lot to me. This is why I do this.

Old age guinea pig sisters
The most animals that Tein captures are dogs and cats. “I also have done rabbits, and have just received an assignment for two old age guinea pig sisters. They died two years ago, but the girl from which they were, meanwhile twenty years old, still talks about them. She has just left her parental home and her father is giving her this portrait as a present”.
People receive a whole list full of tips and tricks how they can make the ideal photo for Tein. Animals living within driving distance from Amsterdam are invited to his studio. He then photographs them himself. Then the owners tell more about the character of their pet, they choose a style and tell where in their home the portrait is going to hang. With all this information Tein starts the digital process. L’Animorphe now exists now for more than a year and Tein hopes that he can make these animal portraits for a long time: L’Animorphe is my playground, it really makes me happy”.
Apart from the tailor made portraits, the creative Amsterdammer has also has a collection of free work with exotic animals, such as goose Mister Gray, duck Miss Peking and lama The Duke of Pjug. “My favorite is The Sad Monkey. The racoon, Mr. Ra-Clooney, I also think is a success. I like to invent little stories that belong with the animals. How they are, what their character is and their background. Those stories I get out new insights from within myself, but also from people who I know from daily life, or a figure out of a series or a film”.