They say art is subjective and this is certainly true. Especially in the case of a British father who’s unconventional pet portraits has raised thousands of pounds for charity.
Phil Heckels, 38, has had more than his few minutes of fame. In fact, his rise on internet stardom began six weeks ago when he was trying to get his 6-year-old son to make a thank you card for the family.
To inspire his boy, Phil doodled a quick sketch of Narla, the family’s black Lab. Just for the fun of it, he uploaded a photo of his oeuvre d’art on Facebook with a jokey caption offering to sell it for £299. And it went viral.
“It was pretty crap,” said Phil, modestly. But as we said, art is subjective, and he was happily amazed to be inundated with offers for the work.
By the end of the day, he had requests from friends who wanted their own pet portraits, and within days he was suddenly inundated with commissions.
Phil’s not giving up the day job yet though. He works in commercial real estate but has set up a dedicated Facebook page under the pseudonym of “Hercule Van Wolfwinkle,” a moniker he’s been using on social media for over a decade.
“Extremely realistic pictures which will grace any household,” reads the (very) tongue-in-cheek tagline.
Googly eyes, oversized limbs and wonky features are prominent in Phil’s work. But that hasn’t deterred his clients. He has over 1,000 requests backed up. And, he points out, he didn’t even study art at school.
One client insisted on paying Phil for his work, but the artist insists that he’s only doing it for fun. He turned it down, saying he didn’t feel comfortable taking payment.
“I can’t take any money for it so give some money to charity,” Phil told the client at the time.
He has now set up a JustGiving fundraiser for Turning Tides, a homelessness charity his family has supported for years. And his weirdly appealing animal art has generated over £11,500 for it.
“It is like a little bit of fun and a little bit of light when there isn’t much to be cheery about at the minute,” he said. “I would die a happy man if I could spend the rest of my life doing this.”
Which is your favourite of the pet portraits?