Meet the Man Behind Bark’s Adorable Sneakers for Dog Lovers

There are multiple reasons you may know Dave Coverly.

The Michigan-based illustrator is the creator of the long-running comic panel “Speed Bump,” which appears in roughly 400 newspapers and websites.

But dog owners who frequent the Bark e-commerce site or use its BarkBox subscription service are probably most familiar with Coverly’s doodles of dogs, which have been part of the company’s brand identity almost since its formation in 2012.

“I think I was the fourth or fifth person to work [for Bark],” said Coverly. “One of the founders, Henrik Werdelin, was looking for someone to do some goofy dog drawings and somehow he stumbled across my stuff. I started doing a few drawings just to see how it would go and the company grew so fast. The next thing I know they’re calling me weekly to do a new dog this and a new dog that.”

Dave Coverly Bark
Dave Coverly and his furry assistant.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Coverly

Many of Coverly’s drawings are featured prominently on Bark’s Shoodles collection, a series of sneakers (for humans, it must be said) created in collaboration with the Bucketfeet shoe brand.

The line first debuted in March 2016 with a white adult sneaker that quickly took off. In fact, according to the company, the Shoodles have been the No. 1 revenue driver for its e-comm site since the line launched.

As a result, Bark has expanded the collection by adding a gray colorway and children’s sizes. The adult shoes are available for $74 on BarkShop.com, while the kids’ shoes range from $35 to $40. It also is now offering Doodle socks ($24 per pack).

Bark Shoodles
Bark x Bucketfeet Shoodles in gray.
CREDIT: Courtesy of company

Bark’s gray Shoodles for adults, $74; barkshop.com

Here, FN chats more with Coverly about sneakers, design and — of course — dog humor.

Where to you find inspiration for your doodles?

“I’ve always had dogs, so I know them well. I have a dog now and we have a field across from our house where we’re always meeting other dogs. It’s to the extent where I don’t know any human beings’ names, I just know ‘that’s Fluffy’s mom,’ or ‘that’s Spot’s dad.’ All the people get together and they just talk about their dogs. Even those of us who have actual human children end up talking about our dogs.”

Why do you like to draw dogs?

“Real dogs have their own personalities, so you can give them even more personality and it’s not weird. If I did cartoons about squids, you’d have like four jokes and that’s it. Dogs are just an endless well of humor. And I’m already at an advantage because people like dogs, so they want to see a drawing of one. It’s not like I have to talk them into it. It makes my job a lot easier for sure.”

Bark Shoodles
Bark’s Shoodles sneaker collection includes adult and kids’ sizes.
CREDIT: Courtesy of company

What’s it like seeing your designs on the Shoodles and other products?

“It’s crazy. What I love about it is that the designers at Bark are so good at [creating these products]. It would be one thing if someone used them and you didn’t like it, but I just love them. My drawings are personal and I take my time with them, but I feel like I’m in good hands with people who know how to use them.

I’ve been doing this a long time, but seeing something like this is a thrill. I work at home and so I draw things and send them and all of a sudden they can’t keep these shoes in stock. And I think, oh, I’m just sitting here with a beer, drawing dogs and the next thing you know they’re on shoes and people are buying them. It’s kind of a bizarre thing, but I still get a big kick out of it.”

Bark Shoodles
Bark collaborated with Bucketfeet on its Shoodles collection.
CREDIT: Courtesy of company

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