We had the good fortune of connecting with Laura Lee Schafer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Laura Lee, let’s talk legacy – what do you want yours to be?
What I want people to take away is that you sometimes have to think outside the box to achieve your goals. I have had a passion for animals my entire life, especially for dogs, and growing up I always longed to be a veterinarian. Around the time I was applying for college though, I had to accept the fact that science was not my strong suit; instead I went on to study graphic design. Even though I was not studying veterinary science, my passion to help animals in need never dwindled. My husband and I adopted two dogs from the shelter, but still I wanted to do more. Since I couldn’t feasibly adopt every animal from every shelter, I had to get creative. I couldn’t help animals as a veterinarian, so I had to figure out a way to help them as a designer. Thus Cartoon Petwork was born! Over the past few years I have partnered with multiple shelters all across the nation to promote adoption for animals in need. Even without a science background, I still found a way to make my childhood dream of helping animals in need a reality.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Cartoon Petwork is a passion project of mine. It’s not about the money, or the social media following, or anything like that. Cartoon Petwork is about pets. Plain and simple. The dog featured in my logo is actually my certified emotional support animal, Marley. The amount of love and support that I’ve received from Marley and my other rescue dog, Stella, is insurmountable. I understand the importance pets play in our lives, and I take that to heart with each portrait. Recently I drew a pet memorial and the woman who purchased it told me that she began to cry as soon as she saw the finished portrait. She said what struck her was that I managed, “to capture [the dog’s] personality in its portrait”. To me, these are more than just drawings, they’re memories frozen in time. To emit emotions from my work means I’ve done my job. Whether it’s the placement of his whiskers, the bend in his ears, or the twinkle in his eye that makes that animal unique, it is my job to capture it.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Hands down my favorite place to visit is La Jolla Cove. Not only is there amazing food and drinks (i.e. Bobboi Natural Gelato), but the wildlife is unreal! When visiting La Jolla, you will feel as though you’ve entered an episode of “Planet Earth”. Wild sea lions line the cliffs along the cove. Seeing these animals up-close in their natural habitat is such a beautiful experience you surely won’t forget.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The person who without a doubt deserves a shoutout is my husband, Justus. Without his constant support and encouragement, I honestly don’t know if Cartoon Petwork ever would have come to fruition. As many creatives do, I often doubt myself and suffer from “imposter syndrome”. When starting Cartoon Petwork, there were many times I was tempted to quit rather than potentially face failure. But my husband gave me the push to keep going and to step outside my comfort zone. He always provided me with honest feedback and pushed me to do my best work. Justus motivates me every day. He is my cheerleader behind the scenes; my rock. So Justus, here’s to you!
Kate Panza Photography