How a homeless artist’s decision to avoid begging paid off – and he is now raising thousands of pounds for The Big Issue Foundation via his art. 

JOHN DOLAN has been described as one of east London’s most notorious artists. Certainly he was one of the unlikeliest, homeless on and off for the best part of 20 years, he took to sitting on Shoreditch High Street every day with loyal dog George capturing the buildings and goings on around him.

For three years he did this, trying to elevate his days above the mundaness of life without resorting to begging – which he hated – or crime – which he’d tried in the past and found only secured short stints in prison.

Photograph: Rob Weir

Photograph: Rob Weir

His art represented Shoreditch but was also a comment on how street people often blend in to the backdrop of urban areas. It got him noticed by the growing artistic raternity in the East End. His first exhibition, in 2013 – entitled George the Dog, John the Artist at the Howard Griffin Gallery – was a success. It saw Dolan present new original works in a gallery setting for the first time and collaborate with over 50 of the world’s highest-profile street and graffiti artists. Since this debut exhibition, John has been supporting The Big Issue Foundation and his work has raised thousands of pounds for the charity.

John’s new book, John And George – The Dog That Saved My Life, is available on Amazon. If you visit Amazon via and choose ‘The Big Issue Foundation’, a percentage will automatically be donated to the Foundation at no cost to you.

The above article first published on in Nov, 2014.