pet portraits help homeless charity

‘Rubbish’ pet portraits raise £5k for homeless charity

A father from West Sussex has raised nearly £5,000 for a homeless charity by drawing “rubbish” pictures of pets.

It all started when Phil – who operates under the spoof alias “acclaimed artist Hercule Van Wolfwinkle” – doodled his pet dog while colouring with his son.

He put it on Facebook and offered commissions at a joke price of £299, but genuine requests flooded his inbox.

“I think people just found them funny, at a time when there’s not loads to smile about,” he said.

Cartoon of a dog
Review: “Tell ya what mate, why don’t you get back to me when you’ve drawn a picture of my actual dog”
Cartoon of a dog
Review: “It’s going to take a while to process these emotions. I feel like I want to laugh and cry and scream and cry and scream and cry and cry and cry all at once”

He did the illustrations for free and shared them on social media with funny fake-reviews and got thousands of likes.

People were keen to pay him something, but he said: “I couldn’t take their money – the pictures are rubbish. So I set up a Just Giving page and suggested people donate instead.”

A Worthy Cause

In five weeks demand for his doodles boomed and the 38-year-old raised £4,903 for homeless charity, Turning Tides. The charity supports rough sleepers and aims to help them out of homelessness.

The Worthing dad is now churning out 150 drawings a week and has a backlog of 600 requests.

Cartoon of cat
Review: “It gets worse and worse the more your eyes scan down the page. Which is really quite the achievement given how bad her face looks”

He said it is “brilliant fun” creating the cartoons, but the volume of requests had started to become “overwhelming” alongside his full time job in commercial property.

He had to put a disclaimer on his Facebook page. People can continue to donate any amount to support the cause and message him with an image of their pet, but it is not regarded as a payment. It is a lottery whether people get a drawing, as he cannot get to them all.

Cartoon of a dog
Review: “It reminds me of that time I went to a firework display and they set them all off at once by mistake; massively overwhelming at first but ultimately not what I had hoped for and bitterly disappointing”

Despite that, support continues to flood in. One person donated £299 to the cause – the ‘price’ of the original image – and a man even got Hercule’s drawing of his dog tattooed on himself.

Tattoo of a dog
One of Hercule’s happy customers got the picture of his dog tattooed on himself

Hercule said: “I can’t believe how it’s taken off.

“It’s just a bit of fun for everybody, including me. When it becomes too stressful, I’ll have to stop. But I’ll try to make as much money as I can for Turning Tides.

“My next goal is £10,000.”

Cartoon of a cat
Review: “It’s a good job I’m always losing my glasses”

He added: “Homelessness is such an important issue, it’s a basic right for people to have a roof over the head and food in their bellies.

“With cuts to services, these charities are often the last line of defence as to whether these people live or die.”

To discover more about how you could support Turning Tides:

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