Martha Weir’s two greatest loves might be rock and roll and her dogs, not in that order. But with some creativity and artistry, she’s been able to mix the two.
Weir, a freelance graphic designer, videographer, and veteran of Chambermaids and other Twin Cities indie acts, is a dedicated mom to her two Australian Shepards, Carey and Bella. One night last fall, while playing with her proud pups, inspiration for a photo art project hit her. Well, more like pawed her.
“The whole thing started by accident,” she said. “My dog just kept getting on my chest and putting her paws on my boobs, and I said, ‘this is just like that Rolling Stone Janet Jackson cover!’ So basically it was my dogs’ idea. My dogs have a lot of good ideas.”
Thus, Doggo Does A Rolling Stone was born: month long, daily recreation of Rolling Stone magazine’s most classic covers, just starring Weir, Carey, Bella, and the occasional cat. The social media project, originally envisioned as a joke she could share with her friends, soon grew into something much bigger than Weir expected. She describes the first few photos as “janky” but the project quickly turned from a goof to a legitimate, if not completely serious, tribute to the magazine she grew up on.
“It was a full time f—ing job. It was basically all I thought about,” she said.
Rolling Stone was especially important to Weir, who grew up in a small town in Illinois where the magazine was her first and often only conduit music.
“My mom got Rolling Stone; that’s how I learned about Nirvana. Once a week, we’d have to drive 30 miles to town for groceries and we’d special order tapes or CDs of bands we read about from the one record store there. That’s how we got music — it wasn’t getting played on the radio.”
For a full month, Weir and her puppies dug in, each photo more elaborate than the last. Her earliest photos, including copies of the famous Lennon/Ono and Britney Spears covers, were lo-fi.
“I love that John & Yoko picture, so I took a piece of duct tape, stuck my phone to the ceiling, and set the timer. Then, when it was done, I said, ‘well, it’s already up there, I might as well do the Britney Spears cover too.”
After posting those two, her social media started blowing up, and Doggo was born.
Soon enough, however, Doggo was a full-on production, with makeup, lighting, and costumes for her and the dogs.
“The only money I spent on clothes in the last 18 months was baby clothes for these guys,” she laughed, as Carey and Bella run around. “The Woodbury Goodwill has the really nice baby clothes.”
Did she take those expenditures as a tax write-off?
“Next question,” she said, smiling.
The response to the project was surprising to Weir. While she expected it to be mostly shared within her circle of friends, she got interest — and occasional ire — from around the country.
“The only hate mail I got was because of the Prince photo,” she says. “Comments like ’You don’t look like Prince! The dog doesn’t look like Vanity! It’s disrespectful!’ Apparently Prince fans don’t like dogs.”
At the end of the project, Weir did a limited run of 100 calendars and trading cards featuring all the photos from the project.
“I printed 100, and they sold out in the first week. I expected to sell them to friends, but I was shipping them all over the country.” They sold out in days.
Since completing the project, Weir and her pups have kept going, Instagramming their travels to and from California, where she now divides her time.
“I felt like after Doggo Does a Rolling Stone I didn’t have a choice except to get them closer to the entertainment industry, so I had to buy a house in Joshua Tree,” she laughed.
So what’s next for Weir and her dogs? Possibly more calendars, and definitely more projects.
“I honestly didn’t think I would sell more than 25 calendars, and I sold out 100. If there’s more interest, I’ll definitely print another 100. But for our next project, which is going to be challenging, the dogs are going to take on the artist’s hat.”
By Tigger Lunney