Interview: Dogs who work
Photo of the authors by Thibault-Casier.
Both from Lausanne,Valeria Aloise and Margot Tissot tell us about the birth of Dogs who work project: an illustrated book dedicated to the jobs of our best friend.
Valeria, I heard that you have a dog named Arnold and that it was him who inspired you and Margot to write this book. What does Arnold do for a living? And why did you choose this name anyway?
VALERIA : I have a 9 years old French bulldog. He helped us to find the idea of the book... I explain: with Margot, we really wanted to make an illustrated book about dogs... But we also knew that a lot of books about dogs already existed. One day, we were discussing about an «angle» to be found rather new on the subject. We were at home with Margot. That’s when, while watching Arnold sleeping and snoring deeply, we thought that he was having the good life, while others were working hard! From there the idea was born: a book about dogs who have jobs! So, as you can see, Arnold is a professional idler. And he does it very well. His name is inspired by Schwarzenegger because my doggie is a ball of muscles!
Margot, your cat Arthur, didn’t he have a hard time seeing dogs all over your drawing table during the creation of the book?
MARGOT : I don’t really think it affected him much, like most cats he is very detached from what is going on in my life. As long as he has his kibble... On the other hand, he left some souvenir hairs on my screen, maybe out of jealousy or revenge for all the time I spent on the book and not on cuddling him :D
Valeria, how did you discover and select the jobs that are in the book?
VALERIA : When we started to research the subject, Margot told me « we will never find that many jobs». I was sure that we would have a lot of surprises. I did research on the internet/social networks and read articles in magazines... And finally, we found so many jobs that we had to make a choice!
There is also a more historical and even mythological dimension, in fact the dog has always been at the side of man?
VALERIA : Right! It’s not for nothing that we say they are «man’s best friend». Humans and dogs have been «together» since the dawn of time, even before dogs were dogs. Humans have tamed their wolf ancestor and, overtime, dozens and dozens of dog breeds have come into existence. The dog has always been present everywhere, whether in mythology, history, literature or all forms of art.
What job surprised you the most while preparing the book?
MARGOT : I immediately fell in love with the art curator dog, probably because of a professional deformation! I found it incredible that dogs participate in the preservation of culture. Since this discovery, I imagine these canine workers of the shade with each visitin museums. Among the jobs that touched me the most, there is the hospital comfort dog that moved meand made me want to adopt a dog.
VALERIA : I think the one that completely blew me away was the mayor dog (insome small towns in the US)! How can a dog have the skills of an elected official? I realized upon further research that these doggie mayors are a sweet and very cute «sham». In fact, they have a dream job, they parade around their village, they are celebrities, they get lots of hugs and they are at all the parties. If I am to be reincarnated as a working dog, I want to be mayor!
Margot, you told us that you had never drawn a dog before Dogs who work, and that you were more of the cat team, did you change your mind after having drawn hundreds of dogs? Which dog did you prefer to draw?
MARGOT : Yes, I think I’m as much team dog as team cat at the moment. I always knew that dogs were more «connected» to humans and cats more independent and I like both characteristics. I must admit that the book made me discover how much dogs can help us through life, both emotionally (hospital comfort dog) and physically (cancer detection dog...) and definitely made me a fan of these 4-legged companions. It was a real challenge for me at the beginning of the book to find a suitable drawing style that could highlight all the characteristics of the dogs and be suitable for all audiences. I spent some time testing the style and becoming familiar with the different coats and characteristics of the dogs. My goal was really to bring out the softness of these animals. It’s very hard for me to choose one, I really had a lot of fun creating them all. I really enjoyed drawing the hunting dog with his prey and in a natural setting. I also loved making the guide dog for the souls of the afterlife in the «Mythological dogs» section. This part is a universe that gave me more creative freedom.
Who is Dogs who work for?
VALERIA : Everyone! One of the obvious answers would be «to dog lovers», but who doesn’t love dogs? The book is accessible to young children, from 7 years old. If you are curious, if you like to discover unusual facts, this book is perfect. It is a book that is very fun while being documented. It has different levels of reading that can appeal to the whole family, from children to grandparents. In addition, the illustrations are a real plus that will appeal to both drawing enthusiasts and budding artists.
Do you have a message for your readers?
VALERIA : Take care of your dogs! They are resourceful and all capable of helping us on a moral, emotional and physical level. Overtime, their jobs have become more complex, dogs have become true specialists that no technology could replace. And they have not finished surprising us...