A former homeless man’s sketches of his four-legged best friend, who he credits with changing the course of his life, are now commanding top dollar in a London gallery and have also recently earned him a show in Los Angeles.
43 year-old John Dolan used to sell his sketches for mere change. Today, his drawings regularly fetch up to $6,800 per piece, with his life now a far cry from where he began.
Dolan’s initial days on the streets were an all too familiar tale for many, as he descended into a life of poverty, drugs, crime and homelessness. It was not until a fellow homeless woman gave Dolan a Staffordshire Bull-Terrier puppy after receiving him in exchange for the price of a can of beer, that his life began to transform.
In between begging on the streets, John would draw the dog he named George, and the scenes around him and soon passers by showed interest and started buying his sketches.
Although John’s success came in part from a chance meeting with Richard Howard-Griffin, who runs street art tours as well as a gallery in East London, it was really the nature of John’s work that drew people in as Richard explains “there’s a real relevance to his work and there’s a real soul in it because it has a true story behind it which is very inspiring, and that’s born out of the work when you look at it.”
Dolan says of his sketches of George: “The drawings that I do of him are quite simple but I’ve done one that’s been in most of the papers, it’s the very detailed one, it’s quite a big drawing,”
“I’ve captured him magnificently in that, but these little ones that I do, I basically try and capture his personality if I can in all of them”.
After spending three years on the streets sketching George, John can now afford his own accommodation, although he still prefers to draw outdoors.
Following a successful first show of Dolan’s work held in Richard’s gallery, a second show is about to launch entitled “John and George”.
John has also written an aptly titled book called “John and George: The dog who changed my life” and plans to make a book of drawings of rock stars with their dogs, in partnership with a dog shelter.
This incredibly busy man is also doing a show in LA and its seems as though the sky is the limit, as Richard reflects on John’s success “I mean, John’s rise has been really meteoric in the art world, it’s like watching an artist’s career in fast-forward – that’s what a lot of artists say so his first show was a sell-out, he’s got a second show now coming out which is really, really amazing,” Howard-Griffin said.
While John claims that George was initially quite an aggressive dog, there is no doubt he is pleased he put in the effort and endured the month long training that turned him into a really pleasant dog”.
Not only did John get a second chance in life, he also acquired a long-term best friend that never leaves his side.