At night, after his full-time job as a software test manager at Lockheed Martin, Paul Atzmiller makes pencil drawings of all types of animals, especially dogs. It’s been a hobby for 25 years. But in the last 11 years, that hobby turned into something more.
“Way back in 1998-99, some of my co-workers saw my animal drawings in my module at work and asked if I would draw their dogs,” the Littleton, Colo., artist says. “After drawing about a dozen or so for free, I thought maybe I could make some money for local animal shelters by drawing dogs for donations. Thus, my ‘I Will Draw Your Dog’ fundraiser was born.”
It works like this: People take good quality photos of their dog’s face, send them to Atzmiller with the name of the shelter or group they want to support, and he creates a free, 9-by-12-inch, black-and-white, highly detailed pencil drawing. He sends the finished drawing and a donation form to the owners, and, in lieu of any personal payment, he requests they make a financial donation to the shelter/group they want to support.
It works on the honor system. There is no obligation to send a specific amount, or even to make a donation at all. And Atzmiller makes no effort to ensure a donation was sent. It’s not about policing behavior; it is about inspiring good works and good feelings.
It takes a little over a week to compete a drawing and he absorbs all material and mailing costs. “I really enjoy helping these wonderful groups and it gives me a great feeling to know that so many people who support these organizations think highly enough of my talent to pay money for my drawings,” he says.
He recently complete his 418th drawing and from what he knows, donations from his art have supported at least nine shelters and rescue groups, including the MaxFund, Golden Retriever Freedom Rescue, Golden Retriever Rescue of the Rockies (GRRR), Have Paws Will Travel, Colorado Humane Society, Rottweiler Rescue, Friends of Retired Greyhounds, Denver Dumb Friends League and National Canine Cancer Foundation.
He estimates he has raised more than $20,000 for these organizations, and even had one grateful dog owner donate $1,000 each to GRRR for two of his drawings.
Atzmiller hopes his fundraising concept will motivate other artistically inclined dog lovers to help their favorite dog group.