NORTHVILLE - Samantha McCullough has come a long way with her Stinky Dog artwork, both in distance and successful marketing.
McCullough said her idea for a dog named "Stinky" came about while doodling at her job working in a laundry in Portland, Ore., in 1989.
"I did funny little doodle drawings on breaks, and people who saw them said, 'Those are great. You should sell them,'" she said. "I even made a Stinky Dog doll out of an old tweed coat someone had left at the laundromat and gave it to my boyfriend."
The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
Artist Samantha McCullough, the creator of Stinky Dog, draws the canine at her work table at her home in Northville Thursday.
The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
McCullough holds up two of the Stinky Dog “Have A Stinky Day” mugs.
McCullough said her boyfriend had a dog with the "well-earned nickname of Stinky." With the encouragement of those who commented on her drawings of Stinky in a variety of situations and roles ("Super Stinky," "Stinky at the Beach," "Stinky at the Movies"), McCullough took her artwork to a large outdoor market in Portland and was soon drawing 40 hours per week to keep up with the demand.
As McCullough puts it on her Web site www.stinkydog.com, "Three years later, the artist, husband, and stinky kids moved to a quaint village (Northville) in upstate New York. A couple years after moving to N.Y., a number of miraculous coincidences brought Stinky to the Internet. The great response to Stinky on the Net was an indication that Stinky was here to stay."
She said one popular design is "Stinky in the Adirondacks." Others show "Stinky in Space" and "Super Stinky" with a cape flying through the air.
McCullough opened a store to sell her artwork from in 2004 in Northville, but decided in 2007 to concentrate on a wider market through children's books and filling orders over the Internet and eBay for the many products with her Stinky Dog Art. T-shirts, mugs, hats, greeting cards and both original and numbered prints are available while her children's books make the circuit of publishers in search of a home.
Joe Altieri of Amsterdam helps McCullough with her Web site and said he thinks her work has the widest potential of any product line he has worked with.
"Stinky Dog Art is probably the most marketable concept to come out of this area," Altieri said. "It's out of the box and shows that simple sells."
Altieri said the appeal of the art is such that both adults and children love it.
"There's no down side," Altieri said. "It has the potential of branding like SpongeBob SquarePants - it has the 'it' factor."
McCullough said she is self-taught as an artist and is grateful for the successful reception her artwork has received. She gives a portion of the proceeds to Christian relief for the poor and said she and her family try to live simply.
"I was pre-med in college," she said. "Then one day I changed my mind about what I wanted to do."
Her husband, Jason, is a teacher at Warren Street Elementary School in Johnstown, and she has three sons - 18-year-old Wesley, who is training in para-rescue in the U.S. Air Force, 9-year-old Northern and 7-year-old Sinn.
McCullough said she stays busy and enjoys the simple, rural life.
"We burn wood and I'm here to help my kids with their homework," she said.
McCullough agrees with Altieri that Stinky has potential, with possible animated cartoons as well as children's books in her future.
"The idea keeps growing," she said. "I have a cartoon strip in Ecolocal Guide Magazine."
(The magazine can be found on line at www.ecolocalguide.com, and her cartoon strip is on page five of the winter issue.)
For more information, visit www.stinkydog.com
Richard Nilsen is a general assignment reporter and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org