Have you ever had a pet rock? The novelty gift was created by Gary Dahl in 1975 and featured an ordinary rock, packaged and marketed as if it were a real animal to care for (despite not ever needing to feed, walk, or bathe it). If you like the idea of having a “pet rock” that will live forever, you’ll greatly appreciate Japanese artist Akie Nakata’s animal-inspired stone paintings. They are both pet and rock in one.
Akie has loved collecting rocks ever since she was a child, but began painting on them in 2011, when she came across a particular piece of stone that looked like the form of a rabbit. Akie tells My Modern Met, “Stones have their own intentions, and I consider my encounters with them as cues to go ahead and paint what I see on them.” Today, Akie continues to source animal-shaped rocks, with the plan to turn them all into adorable creatures. Before she starts painting, Akie asks herself, “Am I positioning the backbone in the right place? Does it feel right? Am I forcing something that disagrees with the natural shape of the stone?” She then uses the rock as her canvas to paint each carefully considered character using acrylic paint.
From cats and dogs to birds and reptiles, Akie transforms ordinary stones into every kind of creature imaginable, and her collection continues to grow. Each piece features an incredible amount of detail, such as meticulously painted, realistic fur and feathers. However, it’s the animals’ eyes that really bring these rocks to life. Akie considers her work complete when she sees “the eyes are now alive and looking back [at her].” She reveals, “To me, completing a piece of work is not about how much detail I draw, but whether I feel the life in the stone.”
Want your own pet rock from Akie’s collection? Keep an eye on the talented artist’s Instagram for updates on availability.
Japanese artist Akie Nakata’s animal-inspired stone paintings make the best pet rocks ever!
Each character is considered according to the natural shape of the stone.
Lifelike painted details make each piece like holding a tiny animal in the palm of your hand.
Best of all: you'll never have to feed or walk these particular pets. They can “live” forever by your side.
Akie Nakata: Instagram