It would be cheesy to start off acknowledging that animals have inspired art since the dawn of time itself, but animal portraits have their own special cheese-factor. Pablo Picasso, Albrecht Dürer, Damien Hirst — the list can go on and on, but the fact is, many visual artists have used animals and animalistic imagery in their work. Our fuzzy friends are inspiring! And they pack a wallop of metaphor and meaning.
Some of his animals have props, some of them wear clothes, some are bejeweled. They have a witty air about them, and are all specific. Mares' shading looks like he's taken an airbrush to his clients, giving his critters leathery little paws and fur that looks like down.
While Mares' animals range from cartoonified to borderline realistic, they all clearly come from his hand, which is impressive. There isn't really a way to "make it" as an artist except keep doing what you do best, and Mares' prowess is clear from his work. Essentially, his work speaks for itself — whether it's a goofy chihuahua or a prowling leopard.
Swing by Mares' Instagram for more neo-traditional perfection.