Meet Hercule Van Wolfwrinkle, The Pet Portrait Artist Who Uses His Unique Talent To Raise Money For The Homeless

Photo: Courtesy of Phil Heckles
Phil Heckles and pet portrait

Let’s be real: most pet owners are obsessed with their animals.

What’s not to love? They’re our constant companions, always there when we need a friend or someone to talk to, bring much needed happiness to households all over the world, and should be memorialized in some way, shape, or form. 

And that’s where Phil Heckles comes in. 

Heckles, an artist from Worthing, West Sussex, England whose cheeky artist name is Hercule Van Wolfwrinkle, has been using his unique talents to draw pets from all over the world — and for a good cause. 

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Heckles originally started his pet portrait project “without much thought or plan.” 

However, a seemingly normal Facebook post of a drawing Heckles created snowballed into something he never imagined it would.

“The whole thing has happened by chance without much thought or plan,” Heckles exclusively tells YourTango. “In September last year, I drew a picture of our dog whilst my six-year-old son was drawing some thank you cards.”

“The picture was rubbish, so I put it onto my Facebook page with a jokey caption about pet portraits being for sale,” Heckles adds. “By the end of the day, I had drawn six or seven pictures for friends. After a couple of days, I had approx 35 requests for pictures and it’s just snowballed from there.”

After Heckles realized he didn’t want to take money from his friends for the pet portraits, his friend suggested that he could make a donation to a charity instead.

“The fundraising idea came about a week into it,” Heckles says. “A friend was insistent on paying me some money, but I couldn’t accept any, so he suggested making a donation to Turning Tides, our local homelessness charity who we have supported as a family for some time. From there, the Just Giving page idea came about. And here we are now, four months later, having raised over £50,000 and counting!”

While many of the portraits Phil draws are of cats and dogs, he says he’s had some unique requests since he started his endeavor. 

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“There’s been a few; a tarantula, an alpaca, an owl, a hedgehog ... even a skunk!!” he says. “No really random requests as such, but someone did message me to say that she didn’t have a pet, so could I draw her teddy bear.”

Heckles also says that he has no plans to stop raising money for Turning Tides, and has enough portrait requests to keep him occupied for the next few years. 

“I said at the beginning of this crazy adventure that I’d stop when either the donations stopped coming in or I stopped enjoying it. At the moment there’s no sign of either of those things happening!” he reveals. 

“The problem I have is still I’ve effectively created a second full-time job for myself and it’s one I don’t earn a penny from,” he adds. 

“It literally takes up every free minute! I have been dealing with the social media pages, reading messages, choosing pictures to draw, thinking up new ideas etc. I have somewhere in the region of 10,000 requests for portraits so I could easily fill the next few years if people will let me,” he says.

You can check out more of Heckle’s work on his Instagram page.

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Olivia Jakiel is an editor and writer who covers celebrity and entertainment news. Follow her on Instagram and keep up with her zingers on Twitter