lady-with-little-dog-mollie morrissette poisoned pets

Author of Poisoned Pets Creates Art to Help Animals; Former Fashion Illustrator Creates Portraits of Pets

Not many people know much about my former life. It’s something I’m not particularly proud of. In fact, I’m a little embarrassed by it.

In my previous life, I worked in advertising. Worse, I worked as an art director for a major fashion retailer. Even worse – I was a fashion illustrator.

But wait, it gets worse.

In my attempt to escape the superficial world of advertising where I made a living bamboozling the American public, (fans of Mr. Blanding’s Builds His Dream House will know which line I’m referring to), I left to become a jewelry designer.

My reasons for leaving advertising were noble I assure you. I left the business because I believed advertising, as Mr. Blanding’s daughter put it, is “a basically parasitic profession,” that “makes people who can’t afford it buy things they don’t want with money they haven’t got.”

But – just like the proverbial “jumping out of the frying pan into the fire” idiom – no sooner had I gotten out of advertising and into the jewelry business when I realized it had a dark side too. Not just your average, run-of-the-mill dark side either, but a decidedly more sinister side than the advertising profession ever had.

During that confused career move, I went from working for people who cared more about wrinkles and font sizes than anyone I knew, to working for clients that had no concern for the devastating environmental impact and human misery their business inflicted on the planet.

Obviously, there are worse professions to be in – oh, like drug dealing I suppose, and being in the sex trade, or say human trafficking – yet in the context of how I was brought up, I had sunk pretty damn low. It must have been my youth spent growing up on a hippie commune in Northern California that scarred me for life from ever feeling entirely comfortable working in such a superficial world.

Not many of you know – in fact, no one does – that I grew up on a commune called Rainbow (I know, don’t laugh) in Mendocino County, better known to you stoners out there as the Emerald Triangle.

Rainbow’s most famous residents once included Winona Ryder (actress) and John Schaeffer (founder of the Solar Living Institute) and was visited by such groovy luminaries as Timothy Leary and other visitors from the world of the truly far out.

At Rainbow, we grew our food – organic of course – and we raised our own goats, chickens and we had a few horses too. All our food was homemade, even the wine. Hell, everything was homemade. Everything was recycled and repurposed. And old school bus was transformed into a pad only a hippie could love. We were mostly self-sustaining, except for our dependence on fossil fuels, everything we had was created, grown, harvested and built, with our bare hands. In fact, we didn’t even have electricity. We were off the grid, man.

To this day, I can’t take a hot shower or a bath without marveling the fact that hot running water emerges freely from a tap. Such riches! Those things mattered a lot to a 13-year-old who just wanted a nothing more than a battery operated curling iron and clean designer clothes.

Fast forward – past the flashy career working in advertising and the jewelry design business – I was pushed into making a big move. Just as life has other plans for you, I had no choice but to give up my material lifestyle – the big house in Sonoma, the designer suits, the crocodile loafers – everything a superficial girl holds dear to her heart.

What first came as a shocking reversal of fortune, became the most profound and meaningful transformation in my life.

But, there is one thing I miss about my former snazzy life, and that was the big fat bank account. It was nice not always having to worry about how I was going to pay the bills.

Today, I struggle because I don’t earn an income from the work I do. I refuse to sell products related to pet food, and I won’t sell ad space either (how could I!). So, the only thing I’m left with is to rely on the kindness of strangers for donations. Aside from the occasional donation, which I am eternally grateful for, it’s not enough to keep Poisoned Pets afloat.

That’s when I had a brainwave. Why not use my skills as an artist to promote Poisoned Pets?

Hello!

So, I dusted off my pencils and fired up my Italian drafting table and voila! Poisoned Pets art was born.

Before you ask, no, I don’t sell prints or t-shirts or any of that stuff. Not yet, anyway.

Why?

Because I have not found a single print on demand company in the U.S. that doesn’t use imported material or products, where everything is made – from scratch – in the USA, and doesn’t use any toxic materials from non-renewable resources. It’s sort of like trying to find an ethical pet food company! They’re as rare as hen’s teeth.

Meanwhile, I thought you’d like to see the other – much nicer – side of Mollie.

Enjoy!

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Mollie Morrissette

Mollie Morrissette, author of Poisoned Pets, is an animal food safety expert and advisor to AAFCO. Help support her work by making a donation today.

Comments (26) Write a comment

  1. If you just give us info on what to do, bet me there are zillions of pet parents out there that would love a drawing of their dog (me included)…….w/your talent, you could make more than enough to get to meetings to fight the bad guys & do lots of great things. Let me know how much you would charge & where to send a pic of my dog & you have your first order…….thanks for all you do.

    Reply

  2. Mollie, I’m SO happy you’re doing your beautiful art! And I deeply love your standards regarding (well, everything) the t-shirts coming from sustainable US sources. Most of all, I love that you left the corporate world, as did I. I think those of us with old souls just can’t survive in that environment. I chose the life of having an animal rescue as a single mom, and I wouldn’t have changed a thing – best years of my life. And here I sit, an old writing major, writing about animals, and I totally get the repulsive world of marketing hype and sales. It’s why I took down my site working with people and their animals – was told to market, do SEO, buy google ad words, and I said NO! I’m highly allergic to marketing hype and advertising. (lol but true!) My site was all about heart and love for animals and their people. Also, I’m not on facebook, but I would dearly love to see those photos! God bless you, Mollie. Your art is exquisite!

    Reply

    • Bless you Marie, I don’t like any of the marketing aspects of “getting your message out there” either.

      I detest social media.

      But, as much as I dislike it, I force myself to engage with my readers as a curtosey, so they don’t think I just dropped off the face of the social earth.

      Mostly, I do it because I need to get my message out and in this day and age, you play the game well or you drift into obscurtity, in the sea of the millions of other voices out there.

      I will shout my message from as many FB rooftops as I can get on. I’ll do anything to help the animals. Anything. Even social media.

      Reply

  3. Molly darling your talent is breathtaking! Please check out the Patreon website for financial support system . Thanks for sharing the wildly interesting life story. Btw I did send $$$ for AAFCO. Best wishes.

    Reply

  4. One thing you didn’t mention was that before living at the commune, at age 8 you were living in Greece..or dragged to..by your mom (me) along with your younger sister Sarah. After living on a Greek island for 4 years, there is no way you would ever be “normal”. Not having the finer things in life, like TV, there was never a shortage of pencils, so you both drew pitchurs.

    I hope that folks will read another of your posts regarding country living, the one you wrote 2 years ago, called Confessions of a Crazy Cat Lady. It has a photo of guy in a barrel, (the link to it right below your post). It’s good to know that you have a sense of humor, while dealing with nasty issues such as rotting guts in pet food, factory farms and evil corporate shenanigans, etc.

    Reply

  5. Wow!!! I had no idea you are such a multi-talented woman.
    Your drawings are hypnotic.
    You may not have watched it but the recent terrific TV show Madmen would have made you break out in a cold sweat. What a soul killing career.
    Glad to made the transition back to being a caring, smart, responsible human being.
    A large part of me yearns to have been included in your commune….although, I am not a particularly communal person.
    May I suggest that if you can find a social responsible t-shirt/printing company, consider opening an Etsy store. You would do well. High quality items of such artistic brilliance sell.
    I’m so glad I met and befriended both you and your mom.
    It’s fortunate that I can give you some money so you can carry on without looking over your shoulder at creeping and never ending expenses.
    g

    Reply

    • Yeah, I heard about Madmen – couldn’t stand to revisit my Hellish years in that world with that show.

      shudder

      Gura, do you know any tech wizards? I need a “Moss” here down here (Moss from the IT Crowd), ’cause mercy, am I having major issues with WP. I wish you were still here to help me out!

      Miss you!

      Reply

      • If you want to take a wild chance, go to Main ST. Music & Video to rent the first few episodes to see if all that world is still too upsetting to watch.
        Madmen was an incredibly well written, photographed, acted period piece that brought back the times. My, in some ways we have really progressed while other dreams continue to linger.
        Here’s hoping you have a safe and productive adventure at AAFCO.
        G

        Reply

  6. Mollie, I so enjoyed your life story. It was so amazing, but I am so glad you have found your calling. God has given you a wonderful talent in your art that so few have. Don’t let it go to waste. I have had an art interest all my life and have done oils (horses portraits) for my family and friends. I look back and wish I had done more with this talent, so don’t let this slip by. People love portraits of their pets and you can do a beautiful picture. Horse art is always on my FB page. Best of luck with this new endeavor.

    Reply

    • Thanks, Jane!

      But it really sucks having to beg for donations, though.

      sigh

      My proud Leo self says not to ever lower myself to bowing and scraping. (Quadruple Leo, BTW).

      Reply

      • Please check out http://www.gentlegiantsdogfood.com. I just saw a segment on TV on this food. I checked out this site and was amazed at all these dogs (about 50) all together and all eating this food basically free choice. It is selling at big box stores, Walmarts for one. Claims dogs will live much longer (into their 20s) because of the low fat. Have you already done any investigating on it?

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        • Jane, please tell me that website is a joke. I don’t know where to start. How about structure/function claims, for starters? They can’t make those claims. I could shred that website to pieces, but who has the time? I would not recommend a food that dares make such outlandish claims. Legally, you can’t make those kinds of medical claims. He should at least know that. Claims schmaims.

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          • You silly! Ummm, yeah, it’s interesting alright. For a minute there, you had me worried. That is without a doubt the scariest excuse for an ad I had ever seen for a pet food. Scary.

  7. Mollie!
    What a stunning drawing! Again, you have used your incredible skills as an artist/illustrator to hopefully generate a bit of income (or more) to help you sustain your blogging career. However, I know you will continue to advise pet owners and uncover pet food industry dirt with a passion no matter what happens with your gorgeous drawings. I wish you all the best in your new direction, and hope there will be oodles of fans out there lining up to commission a drawing!
    I really admire you for all you have accomplished over these past several years: research, writing, blog design, website design, troubleshooting, public relations, and most importantly, AAFCO presence.
    With love from your sister,
    Sarah

    Reply

    • Thanks Sarah! It’s still commercial illustration, so it’s not as far out as I’d like it to be. But, it will serve its purpose for t-shirts n’ sh*t. I just had a horrible experience with a POD (Society6) – the printing was awful. So much for that store…Just selling the original works for now. I’m proud of you too sis!

      Reply

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