There’s a lot of ways to win at life and we can safely say that Phil Heckels, a dad from Worthing in England, has taken the cake when it comes to art. The artist goes by the alias Hercule Van Wolfwinkle and (at the time of writing) has raised a whopping 13.6k pounds (nearly 18k dollars) for a homeless charity, Turning Tides, by drawing ‘crappy’ portraits of people’s pets.
Hercule, 38, doesn’t hide the fact that he isn’t an artist and had never really drawn in his life before. However, one day, he was making some ‘thank you’ cards with his 6-year-old when he drew a couple of doodles and uploaded them on Facebook. His friends thought the portraits were brilliant and asked Hercule to draw their pets. And that’s when the ball started rolling. Scroll down, upvote your fave ‘lousy’ pet drawings, and let us know which portraits you loved the most. If you want to help support Hercule’s local charity, consider making a donation. And when you’re done enjoying this list, check out Hercule’s original post on Bored Panda right here.
Hercule told Bored Panda that the response has been "completely overwhelming" and that he still can't quite believe that there are so many people out there who think his drawings are any good. "The requests for portraits have gone through the roof. I have no way of counting the messages in my Facebook inbox, but I think there must be approximately 2,000, maybe more. I have had to slow down the output a little over these couple of days due to all of the media commitments taking up time, but hopefully, people will bear with me and I hope to be back to drawing 3-5 portraits per day which has probably been about my average," he said.
"We, at Turning Tides, are absolutely thrilled by the amazing talent, energy, and enthusiasm Phil (aka Hercule Van Wolfwinkle) has poured into his Pet Portraits. Phil and all his avid supporters have not only raised a staggering £10,000+ in just a month, in support of our charity; he has also increased awareness of the rising numbers of homeless men and women in our community," Ruth Poyner, Head of Fundraising and Communications at Turning Tides, told Bored Panda.
Poyner from Turning Tides said that the artist has supported their charity for a number of years and passionately believes that nobody should be without a home.
"We are facing an unprecedented need for our services in West Sussex and are greatly concerned as we enter the winter months, how the ongoing pandemic will have an impact on the hundreds of men and women we already support but also those who will inevitably become homeless and need our support as the economic consequences of Covid take effect," Poyner outlined that the following months will most likely be very difficult.
According to the charity representative, Hercule is exceptionally modest and has brought a smile to a lot of people during a very difficult time period. "Phil is exceptionally self-effacing but he has really brought a smile to so many at such a difficult time. Additionally, to know the donations from his much beloved pet portraits will also have a lasting positive impact on the most vulnerable people in our community is really very special," she shared.
Poyner pointed out that the artist's fundraiser, which went global practically overnight as Hercule's artistic talent took the world by storm, is unique and the charity hadn't dealt with something like this before.
"Turning Tides believe that everyone has the right to a home, regardless of the difficulties they may face in their lives. The work we undertake to empower homeless and insecurely housed individuals is vital," Poyner shared with us the charity's mission and values.
"Through a variety of specialist support services, both residential and community based, the aim for each person is that they are empowered to fulfil their potential and secure a brighter future. Turning Tides is the largest provider of homeless services for single people throughout West Sussex. We run 22 properties in various locations across the county and we are firmly committed to ending local homelessness. For over 28 years, we have supported thousands of rough sleepers and homeless men and women."
At first, Hercule did the illustrations for free and shared them on social media alongside hilarious fake reviews. But after getting more and more attention, he decided to put his artistic ‘talents’ to even better use.
“After a couple of shares, I started getting requests from people I didn't know asking for portraits. That’s when I set up the Facebook page Pet Portraits By Hercule and the JustGiving page which is raising money for my local homelessness charity, Turning Tides. I was having fun drawing the pictures, people seemed to enjoy laughing at them, and if we could make a bit of money for a brilliant cause in the process—great!”
Now, more than 10.6k people follow Hercule’s Facebook page and he’s doing his best to keep up with the demand for ‘rubbish’ pet pics. He has been absolutely flooded with requests. And it’s no wonder. His art makes you smile in a time when there isn’t much to smile about.
The rate at which the artist works is nothing short of jaw-dropping. He churns out around 150 drawings a week and has a backlog of 600 requests, so now anyone making a donation isn’t entitled to getting a drawing of their pet, but they might get lucky. We have a sneaking suspicion that Hercule will end up as a professional artist very quickly, considering how much he’s drawing.