Hound Dog + Cat, a new mom and pop pet supply shop, is opening in our Los Angeles Mid-Wilshire neighborhood. The mom and pop are Josh Dragotta and Karena Martin, area locals as excited about creating community as they are about natural and healthy pet supplies.

My walking partner and I are both pet owners, so we’ve been pretty excited. We’ve regularly peeked in their window to check progress, and finally passed by on a day one of the owners was in. As a huge fan of handmade graphics, I was thrilled to discover they are going DIY with the entire store, from shop sign to counters to shelving. Even awesomer: they are working with neighborhood artist, Mike Hamel, to do all this. The result is some amazing community energy.

Local graphic designer and craftsman, Mike Hamel

Designer Mike Hamel was there when we popped in, so we got to talk a little (he’s painted a few of the signs for small shops in the area), and he let me take his photo. Learn more about him at the end of this article (below the video).

What follow are quotes and photos from Josh about the store and their decision to go DIY, and a few notes from Mike about the process. I focus on the sign here, but keep in mind it reflects the spirit of the entire store.

Hound Dog + Cat Pet Food and Supply of Los Angeles

“What I myself wanted to accomplish was to use the least amount of materials possible. A lot came from old jobs and random things I had in my garage. Nothing was spared, and the total waste might have filled 1/8th of a small dumpster. We were totally in sync with each other and I am stoked they asked me to work with them on this.” – Mike

“We are a mom and pop startup with limited finances. When you have a small budget you have to think outside the box. Rather than go a traditional route with standard commercial fixtures, we decided to create our own specifically for what we need. Most of the furnishings in our store are hand made.”

Hound Dog + Cat Pet Food and Supply of Los Angeles

“The debossed look was done by using a Dremel tool, just to give some extra texture to the sign.” – Mike

“Our hope is that after you enter our store you will feel our passion and you will feel warm and welcome. Before anything we consider ourselves a neighborhood store. As I’m sure you could tell, we are very excited to be where we are on Pico and to be part of a diverse community.”

Hound Dog + Cat Pet Food and Supply of Los Angeles

“I cut out the lettering and knew I was going to frame it out. I put metal behind the cutout, hand painted the letters and put a few washes to the wood… pretty much made a sketch then finished it: honestly, how I saw it in my head.” – Mike

“Mike has hand painted a few other signs on Pico Blvd and his attention to detail and tone are nothing but spot on. He’s also a great friend. So, when it came time to look for an artist to project our vision we went right to Mike.”

Hound Dog + Cat Pet Food and Supply of Los Angeles

Tired, but excited…

As I was finishing this article, I noticed a video Josh had uploaded to Youtube and Facebook. It documents the birth of their store, including the installation of the sign!

After watching it, I’m more excited than ever for Josh, Karena and the neighborhood. I’ve embedded it below.

Grand Opening for Hound Dog + Cat Food and Supply will be celebrated June 8-9 with 20% off all supplies and 10% off all food. See you there!

Mike hand painting the sign for Hound Dog + CatMore about Mike Hamel

I am not sure if I consider myself a “graphic designer”. Can I do it? Yes, I understand it and have done a lot of jobs: posters, ad layouts, t-shirt designs, logos, identities, the list goes on…

I went to school and finished with a 4.0 average, including a scholarship. That being said, I do not sit a desk for a corporation or have a business card labeling me as just that. I am a freelance artist, in different fields. I have been a print maker for 15 years. My intro to design itself was making flyers for my band and others, doing cut-and-paste collage and hand drawn images and morphing them at Kinko’s on a black and white copier.

I got into silkscreen poster making, then got my first computer with Adobe Suite around 2008 and just kinda swung it for my poster designs—all in black and white, so I could stroke and trap my type. For the rest, I had drawn and hand-cut my layers, and still do it that way to this day.

After school, I learned a whole new level for illustration. I enjoy drawing and using the computer equally, but I feel they have to be used equally, if that makes any sense? I just like working and learning new crafts with my hands, and making things out of nothing, just based off what I see in my head.

2 Responses to Hand Made: Celebrating community and craftsmanship at a new Los Angeles shop

  1. Penina says:

    Thanks, Samira! I don’t think I’ll be by the store tomorrow, but we are neighbors so it’s just a matter of time 🙂

  2. Samira says:

    Great article, Penina! Hope you see you around the neighborhood, I just messaged you on FB! 🙂 We’ll pass by the store tomorrow morning with our pups!

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