Day Job/Night Job: Collision Writer Launches Fun Art Project in Quarantine, Now Hundreds of People Want His Pet Drawings

Pandemic Pet Project
ABN Writer Ed Attanasio started a thing called the Pandemic Pet Project to use his art to create goodwill during these uncertain times.

Ed Attanasio started our "Day Job/Night Job" column here at Autobody News in 2017, writing stories about people in the collision repair industry who have amazing sidelines and second careers as musicians, artists, authors, performers---even a technician with a world-class Frisbee dog.

Attanasio has interviewed a wide range of creative people in different capacities within the collision repair industry, and now Autobody News is covering him and his dynamic art career.

Attanasio started sketching as a form of rehab after he had a mini stroke in 2009. Little did he know that eventually, his illustrations would lead to a career as an artist, surprising art critics, gallery owners, his friends and even himself.

Attanasio's stroke didn't hamper his motor skills, but it did affect his brain to the point where he was forced to take a break from his job at Autobody News. To occupy his time, he began drawing a series of illustrations on Post-It notes for hours and hours during his 14-month recovery.

Attanasio said he drew these characters only as part of his therapy and nothing more at first.

"I never thought anyone would see them, and I surely never imagined I could sell them. My friends always seemed to enjoy the characters, but eventually [the Post-It notes] would migrate down to our refrigerator door and after a while, they'd disappear,” Attanasio said. “I figured they were getting tossed, but I wasn't concerned, because I could see that I was steadily improving and knew the art was playing a role."

Then, in October 2011, Attanasio was presented with a binder filled with all the drawings he created during his rehab: an eclectic collection of baseball and football players, gangsters, dinosaurs, dogs, birds, monsters and aliens.

"All of the peculiar-looking illustrations that emerged from my stroke-scrambled brain were all together and ready for something…but what?" he said. "Could this be more than just a hobby or a distraction?"

The answer turned out to be yes.

Attanasio sold his first piece, “Bushers,” consisting of 48 fictional baseball players, for $3,000 at a gallery in San Francisco. It also led to a graphic novel based on the image and gallery shows throughout the Bay Area.

In April, Ed began looking around for something he could do to bring joy to people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

One day, a few friends asked him to draw their pets, and when they saw what he created, he said they either smiled or cried tears. So, he reached out to all of his friends on Facebook and Instagram and started the Pandemic Pet Project (PPP) to draw abstract images of peoples' pets for free. In return, Attanasio asked them to pay it forward by donating as much as they could afford to their local pet rescue organization.

What started out as a favor to friends soon gained momentum and turned into something much bigger.

"I thought maybe half a dozen people would respond, but on the first day, I had 30 requests and more than 50 by day two, and it's still growing!” he said.

Attanasio added the total to date is 350 illustrations requested and more than 200 completed.

Attanasio’s art project has attracted media attention from outlets such as the San Jose Mercury News, KNTV, KGO, East Bay Times and the Associated Press of Taiwan, among others.

As far as methods go, Attanasio said, “I get the colors and image in my head right before I draw. I never sketch first; I just dive in.”

A writer for Autobody News since 2008, Attanasio said, “I love writing about all of the philanthropy in this industry and interviewing interesting people like the late Gene Crozat, Michael Anderson and Todd Tracy, the attorney in the John Eagle Honda case. I’m known for writing feel-good features highlighting all of the positive things in this industry.”

To learn more about The Pandemic Pet Project, check out the Facebook page.

Would you trust your pets with Attanasio? If so, submit photos of your cat, dog, bird, lizard, goat or horse along with your mailing address to him via Facebook Messenger and get ready for a small piece of original art to arrive on your doorstep. Limit two per person.

“If I cut off an ear, maybe these will be worth something one day,” he joked. 

Ed Attanasio

Ed Attanasio is an automotive journalist and Autobody News columnist based in San Francisco.

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