Everyone knows art brings us joy—especially when times are tough. Whether it’s making art or looking at art, the act can take us out of our anxiety and depression for a bit. And, art can even make us laugh. Phil Heckels, a 38-year-old man from Worthing, South England, tapped into the humorous side of art—and now his adorably bad pictures of peoples’ pets are raising thousands of pounds for charity.
Heckels told CNN that six weeks ago, when he was trying to get his six-year-old son to make a thank you card for family, Heckels decided to draw the family dog, a black Labrador named Narla. He thought it would inspire his son, but it ended up being quite bad.
“It was pretty crap,” said Heckels.
Heckels posted it on Facebook alongside a caption that jokingly offered to sell the Labrador picture for around $390—but people actually responded.
Now, Heckels has a kind of side gig going on where he draws pictures of other peoples’ pets in the idiosyncratic way he drew Narla. Heckels, who works in real estate, set up a Facebook page offering his services under the pseudonym “Hercule Van Wolfwinkle.”
“Extremely realistic pictures which will grace any household,” reads the tagline on the page.
Heckels has made about 200 pet portraits so far and says he was more than 1,000 requests. But he was uncomfortable taking money, so he set up a JustGiving fundraiser for Turning Tides, a homelessness charity he and his family support. The fundraiser has raised around $15,000 thus far.
“It’s an absolute basic human need to have a roof over your head,” he said, adding that he will keep drawing as long as people are donating and he is enjoying his work.
“I genuinely try quite hard to try and draw them,” he said. “I’m just having a laugh with it. People seem to be enjoying it and I’m certainly enjoying it.”