Photography by Danny Fulgencio

Fourteen-year-old Mia Barnett likes animals and art so much that she’s started a business combining her two passions. The Dallas Lutheran School student creates charcoal drawings and acrylic paintings of pets.

“I was always amazed by how sparkly their eyes are in the sun and the way their fur sweeps across their body,” she says. A charcoal work on black paper won first in state at the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools. Barnett hopes to attend Savannah College of Art and Design.

Her collection of pets includes Ricardo, a Chihuahua/rat terrier mix, a rescue with a collar made in Guatemala, and a cat named Beans. At school, she volunteers to care for hamsters, a spotted leopard gecko, an iguana, a snake, gerbils and spiders. Over the summer, she welcomed the school’s gerbils into her home: Pamplemousse, Pêche, Napoleon Dynamite, Sasha, Milan and Raj.

Barnett created a presentation and speech for her parents on why she deserved to have a gerbil. The student volunteered at Operation Kindness, with a goal of logging 100 hours over the summer.

Mom Laura Barnett says she tells her daughter, “We have so many animals, and we’ve got full-time jobs. We’ve got way too much on our plates to foster animals.” Her daughter responds, “When I have my own house, I’m going to have 10 dogs.” 940.597.4177

Barnett’s business goal is to raise $10,000 so she can buy a VW bus and travel. She’s already secured $3,000. 

“I think people should definitely get a pet,” she says. “Once in a while they poop in your closet, but the good times outweigh the bad ones.” 

If you’re interested in hiring Barnett, DM her at @variety_of_life_ on Instagram or email

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