Administrator to artist: Eagle Rock native immortalizes furry friends with pet art

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Tiffany poses with her dog, Finn, in fron of her artwork.

Stephanie Presz, Community News Reporter

Tiffany Dnaka, who grew up on the border of Glendale and Eagle Rock, couldn’t imagine that the loss of her dog, Moxey, would change her life as it has and bring her closer to her two biggest joys in life: Dogs and the beach.

After Moxey’s death, she wanted to memorialize her with a portrait and had a specific look and feel in mind, but her searches on Etsy were fruitless. So, she took matters into her own hands and used her mostly self-taught graphic design skills to create the perfect portrait.

At the time, Dnaka worked in higher education as a director of a community college system.

Now, she lives with her rescue dog, Finn, by the beach in Dana Point and is focusing full-time on her art business.

“I was like, you know what, everyone has their side hobby during the pandemic, so I’m going to create an Etsy store, and it just kind of went from there,” she said.

The past few months have gotten Dnaka closer to turning her side hobby into a full-time gig. 

Currently, her specialty is creating custom watercolor art based on real pictures of animals. Customers can choose their favorite photos of their beloved fur babies to have Dnaka recreate as digital artwork.  Most of her clients ask for dogs or cats, but she can do any animal and even people, too.

Olivia DeVilla, an office operations manager in Glendale, discovered Dnaka through a local Facebook page. She had been wanting to get a special gift for her friend to honor his dog, Loki, so she began taking pictures of Loki with the intent of having Dnaka paint one of them. “When I got the picture, what caught my eye the most was how she had captured Loki’s soulful eyes,” said DeVilla.

Another customer, Lesley Dixon, had taken a photo she loved of her rescue cat, Lucy, and she knew that Dnaka could make the picture even more special.

 “I think the amazing thing about Tiffany is that she donates money from each sale to the rescue of your choice,” Dixon said. “Mine was the Ark of San Juan, which is where I adopted Lucy from.”

Dnaka knows how important a role pets can play in people’s lives.  She has a special love for creating artwork of animals that have already crossed “the rainbow bridge.” Her artwork serves as a way for people to memorialize their furry best friends.

“Just being able to connect with people and know that, ‘hey, my artwork is helping you heal,’ just means a lot,” she said.

Dnaka’s primary means of selling is on Etsy, but she is currently working on getting her artwork into stores in Orange County and Los Angeles. She has a pop-up art wall at the OC Open Market in Laguna Hills, and she is teaming up with Talk Shop Live on Instagram.  She occasionally does other pop-up events, one of which was at the Pasadena Humane Society’s Wiggle Waggle Walk & Run on Sept. 19. 

You can find Dnaka on Instagram as @tiffany_dnaka_, where she frequently does giveaways.

Community News produces stories about under-covered neighborhoods and small cities on the Eastside and South Los Angeles. Please email feedback, corrections and story tips to [email protected]