Country music fans know him as “Phil the Thrill,” the DJ who works for Red 102.3 FM.
Now, Phil George is making another name for himself as a talented artist who is helping area businesses, especially restaurants, through this challenging time.
“We announced on the air the businesses that were offering takeout,” he said. “I began thinking about what else I could do to help.”
George has been drawing his entire life. He attended the Pennsylvania College of Art and Design in Lancaster, majoring in art and illustration, but then found a radio career.
“When I graduated, the economy took a tumble, and I ended up in radio,” he said.
His radio job connects him to a variety of businesses. So, when the pandemic struck, it hit home for him, especially when it came to restaurants.
“Before COVID-19, I was working with Molly Pitcher Brewing Co. creating posters for their live music shows and helping them with their social media graphics,” he said. “I put out feelers [for his fundraising project] on Facebook, and the answer was a resounding yes.”
The positive feedback inspired him to take the next step and set up an account on Etsy, the e-commerce site where people sell their original creations. Phil’s first work depicting the Molly Pitcher building earned him $1,000, which he donated to the business.
“I was blown away,” he said.
Thanks to George’s generosity, employees at Molly Pitcher are finding it a little easier to make ends meet.
“We have a staff fund to help our laid-off workers, and they can dip into that with no strings attached to help them out with whatever they need,” said Manager Cassie Fourlas.
George’s affinity for the food at George’s Subs and Pizza determined who he was going to raise funds for next.
“I grew up on George’s steak subs, which are phenomenal,” he said.
His subsequent rendering of the owner standing in front of the restaurant enabled him to present the business with a $500 check.
His affection for another area business inspired him to create his next work.
“Market Cross Pub & Brewery is like my Cheers,” he said. “I do a lot with them at the radio station, and I’ve gotten to know the entire staff.”
He was able to donate $1,000 to the popular watering hole.
As George contemplated his next work, his thoughts turned to an iconic food item native to his hometown.
“Carlisle is home of the ‘Hot-Chee Dog,’” said George, whose rendering of the Hamilton restaurant and their famous hot dog brought in $1,000.
Hamilton Manager Athan Mazias described the depiction as “amazing.”
“The artwork is fantastic,” he said. “I think this is a great idea, especially in these conditions where we’re just trying to keep busy.”
Buoyed by his success with the restaurants, George branched out into other businesses in Carlisle. Recent creations are renderings of the Carlisle House Bed and Breakfast and the Carlisle Regional Performing Arts Center.
“We are grateful to Phil for memorializing our historic façade and marquee through his artwork and also for his generous donation from the proceeds of his sales,” said Executive Director Erika Juran, adding that the money has been helpful during this time of limited programming.
George is currently working on prints for several Harrisburg-area businesses in a “Heart Your Hometown” campaign.
These include sketches of the Appalachian Brewing Co., Midtown Scholar Bookstore and the Broad Street Market. Proceeds from the prints will go to the three businesses.
George said that people often hear about him through his social media account and ask if he would like to include them, but he is also planning to work on prints for those who are unaware.
“I kind of like surprising some of them with the artwork,” he said.
George said that he is enjoying the work on the three Harrisburg businesses because he finds them visually interesting.
“I like the giant sign for the Broad Street Market, the carts of books at the Midtown Scholar and the oversized ‘Brewing’ sign at ABC,” he said. “The other big draw is that they are locally owned businesses, which has been my focus with the ‘Heart Your Hometown’ art prints.”
As for the future, George plans to create more as time permits.
“I hope to keep this going,” he said. “It’s exhausting at times, but the amount of support I’m receiving keeps me going, and it’s kind of nice to get my mind off the pandemic, too. It’s very therapeutic for me.”