Rafael Mantesso had a novel way of coping with divorce. Indeed, his other half had completely cleared out their apartment, leaving him bereft without a single piece of furniture to his name. But instead of moping around or crawling into a beer bottle, Mantesso found a more artistic outlet for his pain.
And to add insult to injury, Mantesso’s wife left him on his 30th birthday, taking all of the cookware, furniture, photos and decorations with her. But the Brazilian artist decided to make the most of the blank walls in his now empty house.
The only thing Mantesso’s ex had left behind was the dog – a bull terrier she had named after her favorite shoe designer: Jimmy Choo. And when he found himself alone in a bare apartment in Brazil’s Carangola, it was man’s best friend who helped Mantesso find his way through heartbreak and back to his art.
In an article for Bored Panda in 2015, the artist explained, “With only Jimmy for company, I found inspiration in my blank walls and my best friend and started snapping photos of Jimmy Choo as he trotted and cavorted around the house in glee.”
When the pup finally lay down, Mantesso found a marker and began to scribble an imaginary world on the white wall behind him. And he didn’t stop there. Montesso’s Instagram page is now full of photos of Jimmy in an array of comic situations, all of which are sure to bring a smile to your face.
Sitting for a mug shot, singing into a microphone and even riding a bicycle are just a few of Jimmy’s photographed pastimes. And some of the fun illustrations even allude to the products of the very fashion brand Jimmy was named after.
Of course, Jimmy is the real star of these drawn-in worlds, even though the only directions he’s following are “sit” or “stay.” And it seems the little pouch is the perfect model, too. Montesso told Bored Panda, “Although it’s really messy when I’m photographing him, he obeys me.”
The photographs showcase Mantesso own artistic talents as well. “I like to take pictures of Jimmy interacting with things from everyday life and as I love to draw, I like to put different illustrations in the shots,” he told the Daily Mail in 2014.
Mantesso has gotten increasingly creative with his illustrations. Many of the images place Jimmy in hilariously human scenes, while some reference classic cartoons or current pop culture. In one composition, he even drew the pampered pooch his very own Iron Throne!
Naturally, the imaginative photos soon began attracting a strong Instagram audience, and the Brazilian talent currently boasts 563,000 followers. “I have had a great response to my work – people ultimately love Jimmy and love dogs,” Mantesso explained to the Daily Mail.
And, as the photos gained popularity, Mantesso attracted the interest of a number of newspapers including The Times and The Huffington Post. And even more impressive, the artist was even approached by Jimmy Choo, who asked him to design illustrations for a limited edition collection of accessories.
Most importantly, Mantesso has benefited greatly from his adventurous post-breakup project. The visual artist wrote on his website that, as soon as he started photographing Jimmy, he “felt his long-dormant inspiration for drawing, for art, for life – returning.”
And it’s not just Mantesso that benefits from the creative partnership. The Brazilian says his dog loves being his muse too, mostly because of all the attention he gets. “Taking pictures and creating art with Jimmy is my hobby,” he told the Daily Mail. “But it’s so great that I have time to play with Jimmy, who is my best friend.”
Mantesso is also championing bull terriers, who he feels are often misperceived as a violent or dangerous class of dog. “I think they are an amazing breed – behavior, personality, the love they demonstrate to their owner, and especially their aesthetics,” he wrote on Bored Panda.
“He is definitely my best friend and companion,” Mantesso continued. “I hate it when people turn away or cross the street for fear of him…”
Mantesso knows there is nothing to fear with Jimmy. In fact, he told Today that the dog is “the best partner ever.”
This partnership has brought the pair a great many additional opportunities, too. Most notably, Mantesso has collated all of his best photographs into a book, A Dog Named Jimmy, which tells this amazing story of one man and his dog.
Jimmy’s online popularity has also won him a Webby Award. And in May 2016 the honored pooch will be making his way to New York to collect it – with Mantesso in tow, of course.
It’s an honor that Mantesso doesn’t take lightly. Indeed, he has called it “the Grammy of the internet.” He further wrote on Instagram, “Right now Jimmy is seated and looking at me not understanding why I’m crying, laughing and screaming.”
Mantesso has promised that he will continue making art. And with his work in increasingly high demand, it looks like the talented illustrator and his furry friend are set for plenty more escapades to come.