Phil Heckels is not an artist. But he has an artist's name. He goes by Hercule Van Wolfwinkle on Facebook, and he uses this artist alter-ego to raise money for charity with his hilariously terrible pet portraits.
Hercule had never drawn before in his life when he started this project. he decided to start raising money for Turning Tides, an organization that works to end homelessness, and the way that he decided to do that was to offer custom pet portraits to anyone who made a donation. And at this point, he's raised more than £17,000 (over $22,000). Take a look at his absolutely brilliant, terrible pet portraits.
That cat! Has! Too! Many! Legs! Hercule's pet portraits may not be anatomically accurate, but they sure do have a lot of character. And people love them so much that Hercule is completely overwhelmed with requests.
He told Bored Panda, "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 the media commitments taking up time, but hopefully, people will bear with me and I hope to be back to drawing three to five portraits per day, which has probably been about my average."
How did Hercule settle on this idea when he wasn't an artist to begin with? Well, he was making some "thank you" cards with his 6-year-old one day when he started doodling and posting it on Facebook. His friends loved his little, weird drawings so much that they started requesting pet portraits. And the rest is history.
Turning Tides was so thrilled that Hercule decided to raise money for them through his charity pet portrait effort. "We at Turning Tides are absolutely thrilled by the amazing talent, energy, and enthusiasm Phil (a.k.a. Hercule Van Wolfwinkle) has poured into his pet portraits," said Ruth Poyner, Head of Fundraising and Communications for Turning Tides.
"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."
Because Hercule is so overwhelmed with requests, not everyone will get a pet portrait at this point. But that's no reason not to donate! Head to the JustGiving page to contribute to the cause, and then who knows? He might get inspired by your pet and pick them for a portrait.
Poyner said, "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."