Cropped newspaper clipping of taxidermy .

Buy Two Portraits, Get One Free! from Bee's Knees Studios

By Dom Sinacola · Apr 02, 2013

Everyone remembers how royally C.M. Coolidge wracked the Art World asunder with his “Dogs Playing Poker” series. For so long, modern realists had to back down from the soft-headed emergence of expressionism, to concede that the Realist’s rigorous devotion to “how things look” could simply no longer pique the imaginations of those seeking truth through oil. Yet, when Coolidge dressed his mongrels in the finest clothes of his day, further complicating the implications of their “dogginess” by setting them amidst humanity’s basest vices (typically: smoking and gambling), he merged expressionism’s “feelings” with realism’s “looking like the thing,” pasting them together at the bottom of the cauldron of the absurd. It was rad.

Bloomington, Indiana’s Bee’s Knees Studios understands the triumph of Coolidge’s designs, and so to better serve the burgeoning needs of the greater Monroe County area, started the world’s first photography studio devoted solely to dressing your animals up like people and taking photos of them doing people stuff. Like people do. Today’s Groupon tends to both the wacky widower with a feline fetish and the insistent stoner who treats his bulldog like more of a brother than his real brother, who is a successful lawyer in Manhattan, that pompous jerk…no, not you, Rocco, you’re perfect—who’s a perfect boy? Who’s a good boy? You are, yes, you are!: Buy Two Anthropomorphic Pet Portraits from Bee’s Knees Studios and get the third one free!

With a whole host of in-house set designers, style consultants, clothiers, animal make-up artists, circus-level trainers, and paw cobblers, there is guaranteed no imaginary, people-like situation or occurrence Bee’s Knees cannot recreate on a smaller—or furrier—scale. Be it Norman Rockwellian Americana, or something riskier, like a reenactment of the Battle of Gettysburg or the Signing of the Magna Carta, Bee’s Knees can properly style and train your tabby to menacingly sneer at a very period-appropriate roll of parchment while a small entourage of mice Knights Templar gather around judiciously. Just like King John did! Astronaut dogs, police officer hogs, your parakeet in a bowler hat, your ferret dressed as a Boy Scout helping an old lady—also a ferret—cross the street: however you want to preserve not only the image of your most beloved pet, but its personality too, BKS ensures a portrait of your pet doing people things that will last for ages, be it above your kitchen table, mantle, toilet, or bed. True to its name, Bee’s Knees has even, literally, given a bee knees. They were made out of pipe cleaners; it involved taking off the bee’s legs. You get the picture. No point going into it.

There is literally no better way to express love for a lower-value life form than through forcing it to sit still for hours on end in a Velcro seersucker suit pretending to be Colonel Sanders.


Cat Fancy gave Bee’s Knees “Cuddle-friendly Corporation of the Year” in 2003 and PETA later called it, “An adorable abomination…We’re ashamed” (The New York Times; 3 February 2012) To which BKS CEO Tad Tomlinsen responded via Twitter, “Nice alliteration. ’Adorable’ is 1 of the 3 ‘A’s of our mission statement…along with ‘Anchovies’ and ‘Antlers’…but ‘Abomination’ sure isn’t.”

“I’ve always had a dream of dressing up my miniature therapy horse like Abe Lincoln at Ford’s Theater, and having my pet chimpanzee play John Wilkes Booth…mid-assassination, mind you. No one was ever able to accommodate me and my vision until I found Bee’s Knees. They even let me use some sort of sloth-like creature thay had on hand to play Mary Todd. I will return to Bee’s Knees for all of my future animal portraiture needs…which means I will never see those people again.” — Allie Yield, via Yelp 3-06-10

“I’m just in it for the tiny outfits. I don’t actually own any pets.” — Anonymous, submitted via tattoo made with pen cap, needle, and thread on the back of a so-called “railroad transient” murdered with what was probably a tire iron, 9-13-11

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