By Melanie Spencer
American Statesman Staff
Last week, Sue Rostvold and her husband, Allan LIttle, launched their Austin-based greeing card company, Verysupercool. You might have seen them scouting for “models” along Town Lake or Zilker Park – the four-legged canine kind, that is. Each of their cards is an homage to a beloved pet, and the business allows Rostvold to merge her talents of photography and printing.
Austin American-Statesman: How and when did Verysupercool come to be?
Sue Rostvold: When our dog Scooby passed away, we found ourselves searching for the proper way to memorialize him. Losing Scooby was hard, and through sharing with friends; (we) realized others also found it difficult to offer comfort over the loss of a pet. When several friends also lost pets, I begin to make greeting cards using photos of the beloved pets. Rather than merely saying “deepest sympathy,” I included meaningful quotes that had a more universal appeal. Soon, I began creating a variety of fun cards with quotes for all occasions.
What about card making as an art form appeals to you?
The real art form for us is capturing the essence of each dog, be they mutt or purebred, old or young, working dog or fancy dog – we love them all. We found that they eyes are the windows to the soul and when we can capture that gaze with a camera, it makes a really compelling card.
Can you walk us through your process?
Well, for the most part, we are interested in real dogs that belong to real people. We walk Town Lake, scouting for an unusual or particularly eye-catching dog that we think would make a great card. We’ve developed a little business card that we offer to dog owners that explains what we are doing. Most people get very excited and act as if their dog has been chosen for “Star Search.” If we get the right shot and a dog is chosen for a card, the owners receive complimentary cards.
What is the most challenging aspect of working together and what is the most rewarding?
We pretty much agree about the fundamentals – we love dogs and we care about the environment. We find beauty in al types of dogs, and it’s fun to scope out the potential models while enjoying the local parks or walking around Town Lake. We print our cards on 100 percent post consumer waste paper. Photographing dogs isn’t easy, and catching that moment when they are looking exactly at the camera is even harder. We don’t even want to talk about the silliness that goes on while inthe middle of a photo session. Let’s just say sqeaky toys, treats and high-pitched, embarrassing voices are usually involved.
How or where do you find your inspiration?
How can you not be inspired by dogs? They give unconditional love, and they are there when you need them most. Our sweet dog Wenge, who is nearing the end of her life, has given us so much joy and inspiration over the last 15 years. She needs 24-hour care now, and it is a pleasure to give back to an animal that has done nothing but love us and entertain us her whole life. As for other dogs, we just like to get a snapshot of their real personality to offer a smile to others. We really enjoy spending time with all the different dogs and getting to know the owners; dog people are usually pretty cool. And then there are the inpriational quotes that you will find inside each card: from Emerson and Einstein to Aristotle and Shakespeare.