It was a joke, when Phil Heckels, 38, posted a silly picture of his dog to Facebook with a £299 price tag in the caption. He’d only drawn it because he was trying to get his little boy to draw with him and make a thank you card.
It didn’t sell. “It was pretty crap,” Heckles says of it with self-deprecating humor. But it did make a bunch of his Facebook friends laugh. The marker-drawing of his black lab Narla was unpolished and cartoony, but expressive. By the end of the first day, he had seven commissions from friends wanting pet portraaits. And those requests kept coming in.
Heckels, who has a full time job in commercial real estate, soon gave in to peer pressure and set up a dedicated Facebook page as the artist “Hercule Van Wolfwinkle,” offering goofy pet portraits with googly eyes, giant heads, and Picasso’s grasp of where facial features go.
Then the internet did its strange thing, and his work went viral.
“I’m just having a laugh with it,” Heckels said. “People seem to be enjoying it and I’m certainly enjoying it.” He does his best to take each commission seriously, but not too seriously.
“I genuinely try quite hard to to try and draw them.”
As the commissions backed up and money kept coming in, Heckels decided to do something good with his strange flash of popularity – he set up a fundraiser for Turning Tides, a homelessness charity his family has always supported. With his art as backer’s gifts, the fundraiser has so far raised over £14,000 for the charity, or enough to provide over 280 nights of shelter.
If you want to get your own portrait, go ahead and contact his Facebook page, but there’s bound to be a wait. Acclaimed artist (his words) Hercule Van Wolfwinkle has more than 1000 pets in his queue already. But he’ll get to you as soon as he can.
Source: NBC 2