By now you have probably seen the posters and banners for Sydney Chinese New Year Festival (aka Lunar New Year), celebrating the arrival of the Year of the Dog on Friday February 16 and for a subsequent two weeks of performances, exhibitions, shows, tours and feasts.
In case you haven't: hello, cute doggies in traditional Chinese outfits!
Time Out was proud to be involved in the production of the official printed City of Sydney Chinese New Year Guide this year. During that process we interviewed the clever artist/designer behind the campaign images, Instagram darling Danling Xiao.
"I was walking on Macleay Street in Potts Point when I had the idea of doing a set of dog portraits," Xiao tells Time Out. "When I used to live on Macleay Street I would sometimes go downstairs just to see the dogs running up and down the street, especially on the weekends. It’s a fashion runway for dogs and their owners!
"The idea of dressing my little models up in Chinese New Year costumes came from my childhood memories. I grew up in China and we have a tradition of wearing new clothes, especially red and gold, for the occasion. My parents in China bought the dog costumes for me. Dogs dressing up in Chinese New Year costumes is a common thing in China.
"Choosing the dog models was difficult. I received many recommendations from friends and social media. I would visit the dogs to try out the costumes and make sure they were comfortable hanging out with me. I spent two hours at Rushcutters Bay Park looking for a white dog, and at the end I met Archie, the beautiful Japanese Spitz. The furthest I traveled was Caringbah – to meet Joy and her human mother, Christine.
"I was very lucky to work with photographer and master art printer Warren Macris from High Res Digital. Warren loves dogs and has a lot of tricks. The dogs' parents were also at the photoshoot, accompanying them and guiding them to look into the camera. We wanted to make them feel comfortable and capture their natural states. I wouldn't say we got them to pose: we were more guided by them and let them shine in their own way."
Danling Xiao is the founder of Mundane Matters, a sustainability-driven art and design practice advocating ethical eating, animal protection and the elimination of food waste and plastic waste. Instagram: mundane_matters.
Read more about the City of Sydney's Lunar Lanterns exhibition for Chinese New Year 2018.