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My name is Phil Padwe. I'm an American artist and childrens book author currently residing in London (UK) with my wife. I make my living as a Designer and illustrator.
Years ago, while living in Manhattan, I put a white collar career as an Art Director on hold so I could concentrate on creating and promoting my children's books: 'the hipster classics' (a reviewer's term, not mine!) Mommy Has A Tattoo and Daddy Has A Tattoo. After the books were launched and the initial publicity obligations were finished, I took a job as a Night Watchman at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (I needed health insurance!) for a few years. I wasn't thinking about my career as a designer. I figured I'd spend *all* my days reading my children's books to sold out mobs of super-cool families... boy was I wrong. Children's books are a fun genre and you can meet fantastic people (and receive adorable fan-mail)... but there's no financial reward in having a handful of titles, even if they're well-liked. I'd have needed dozens of books and a stable of authors to be successful. So as the months wore on, and became years, I fell less-in-love with publishing and more in love with what 'else' I was doing: art and museums...
While working evenings and nights at The Met I filled over 20 sketchbooks with over 1,000 drawings. I also read 120+ books about art and artists, mainly of the renaissance... and at the same time began collecting and reading books about Old Master drawings. I was obsessed. If I saw a book that looked interesting sitting on the desk of one of the curators, or in the libraries of one of the departments while I was patrolling the museum as a guard at night, I'd write down the name and ISBN number, go on Amazon when I got home, and buy a used-copy. This, of course, led to Amazon suggesting similar (used, often out-of-print) titles... and my amassing a rather hefty and scholarly library. I'm pretty sure in hindsight there were times in this years-long adventure I was spending more on art-materials and used-art-books than I was earning. But in this way, by carefully copying and studying the art in the galleries; drawing and sketching from statues and busts while on breaks; reading the books that accompanied special exhibitions for 3 years; and building a library based largely on the curatorial expertise of the various departments inside The Met... I did a pretty good job availing myself of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Already in my mid 30's this experience of spending thousands of hours in such a large museum, mostly after closing, unexpectedly and fundamentally changed the way I consider, create, and interact with art. Being a guard for a few years also made me keenly aware of how the public interacts with art... which became one of the themes of my own art in my (ongoing) Museum Series. And I became friendly with a large network of working artists (many of whom were guards like myself), and together we took part in NYC gallery exhibitions and received a fair amount of press. All in all, it was a great experience and one which came to define who I was and what I was doing with my life and my energy and my time.
That is how museums came to permeate my DNA. And why, while living abroad, we travel as often as possible to the major museums of Europe. I don't get to see them when they're closed any longer, unfortunately, but having been there and done that... it's easy enough to imagine. And I love watching other tourists, typically art-lovers like myself, interacting with the galleries and the artworks (and the guards). So, while we're living overseas, I wanted to keep some sort of scrapbook of my thoughts and feelings as we make our way through 'the continent' on weekend excursions and week-long holidays. This is it. Thanks for visiting.