FEATURED December 2015
My name is Lesley DeSantis and I’m an artist and musician living in Portland, Maine. When Guinea Pigs Fly started in 2009 as the result of looking for guinea pig art for my own home and not finding much of anything to choose from. I began sketching guinea pigs dressed as classical music composers and Victorian ladies and gentlemen and cracked myself up seeing these fluffy little creatures looking so serious (and let’s face it, powdered wigs just make everything funnier). After I had made a few paintings, I thought it would be fun to see if anyone else might be looking for the same thing I was looking for, and I planned my business and opened up shop on Etsy. I never expected it to take off as quickly as it did! Within a week, I had my first order going out to Australia, all the way across the world! Turns out Australia and the UK are both wild about guinea pigs. Running this business has connected me to so many wonderful people and has made me feel so happy knowing that my artwork is not only serving a need in a niche community, but also bringing a laugh and smile to people, both guinea pig lovers and just cuteness enthusiasts in general, all over the world. It boggles my mind.
Having moved to Portland, Maine last year, I now live in a city where brunch is a *big deal*. Portland is wild about brunch, and there are so many wonderful places to choose from, I’ve barely scratched the surface! When I think of Sunday Brunch, I think of lots of laughs with good company, white tablecloths, relaxing and enjoying not needing to rush off anywhere, and a warm stack of pancakes with real Maine maple syrup and a side of savory bacon.
Favorite designer? Oh I have so many! With art, for more serious work I love Jen Mann. For illustration, I love Ryan Berkley’s juxtaposition of realistic animals wearing human clothes in Berkley Illustration, and Matt Adrian’s hilariously beautiful work at The Mincing Mockingbird.
I love dresses so much and wish I had more occasions to wear them! My favorite dress that I own would probably have to be a gorgeous bright coral Diane Von Furstenberg dress I got while playing for a musical I wrote in New York a couple of years ago, for both the dress itself and the experience of shopping for it and why I was wearing it. It’s a beautiful above-the-knee lace dress with three-quarter sleeves and a shiny zipper all the way from the neck to the hem in the back. I loved that mix of elegance with the hardware and a modern silhouette. Rather than being low-cut or sleeveless, the fabric itself is the showstopper so the dress can cover more while feeling even more chic than if it were stereotypically ‘sexy’. Shopping at Bloomingdales in New York for anything instantly makes you feel like a million bucks, but what really was the icing on the cake was the cashier gave me a secret coupon so it ended up being amazingly affordable!
I am inspired by cuteness in all forms, particularly animals. I tend to anthropomorphize everything in sight, so inspiration could strike pretty much anywhere if my imagination starts flowing. I’m inspired by other artists, but also have to be careful not to compare myself too much or it can be very overwhelming. I’m also inspired by living by the ocean, by women who are leaders in the face of fear, Jimmy Fallon and Ellen Degeneres, by delicious food and the great outdoors, by the love and companionship of my marriage, stand-up comedy, and of course, my guinea pigs!
See more of my work here.