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It began simply enough. She was a teenager looking for a summer job before heading to college to pursue a career in the creative arts. Already a gifted artist, she used her talent and creativity to hand-paint clothing and jeans (a style that is now referred to as “retro”). At this point, Leslie Fried didn’t realize that life would come full circle and she would find herself using her amazing talents to create lifelike, personal treasures for people wanting to pay tribute to man’s best friend.
Fried spent four years at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York as a photo illustration major and then settled into a career in graphic design in Rochester. A combination of factors started to stir the idea of moving to the Southeast, and over the years her family had begun to scatter. An identical twin sister was living in Atlanta, one of her daughters had moved to Charlotte and Fried loved the ocean and had had enough of shoveling snow. While looking for employment in the South, she came across a senior art director position at LHWH Advertising and PR in Myrtle Beach. That was eight years ago and she has never regretted the move.
Her love of dogs is evident when she talks about how she and her daughter rescued Chloe, a mixed breed they had found running in between cars on U.S. 17. “It was a miracle that she wasn’t hit,” says Fried. She also does volunteer graphic design work for Waccamaw Animal Rescue Mission, not to mention walking their dogs on Saturdays. Her artistic talents and creativity are on display throughout her home in the form of shadow boxes, seashell picture frames and paintings. But it’s the dogs where you get a glimpse of where her true love lies.
Now a grandmother, Fried was looking for a special gift for her one-year-old granddaughter. So she went back to her roots and painted a portrait of Victor, the family canine, on the back of a jean jacket. It was an instant hit and spawned a demand that has grown into a booming side business. One look at her talent and you’ll understand why. The eyes of her four-legged creations come alive on the fabric and you almost expect them to bark at your presence. Each one is hand painted with acrylics and is washable. A photo and article of clothing or pillow is all that is needed to make a lasting memory, and a portion of each sale goes toward rescue causes.
To see examples of Fried’s work, go to barktoart.com or find her on Facebook.