Paddy Wilkins: A Gentleman & A Scholar
It's hard to write something about Paddy Wilkins when you don't have a few days to sit down and write everything that makes this person so wonderful. You could literally put together a novel that chronicles all the amazing things this man does daily and has done in the past. Paddy is definitely someone who turned from customer to true friend in a hurry, while simultaneously being featured in a handful of GLCO catalogues and films, all the while building his unique array of GLCO optical frames . And an added plus is that Paddy is cast in at least 4-5 major national commercial spots a year, and every time is proudly wearing his GLCO frames.
Last week Helen dropped by his pad in Venice to say hello to him and his family and checked out some of his photography. And I reached out to him for some random questions about life and his work.
GL: What's your dog's name?
PW: We have a female lab shepherd mix named Louie… She chases Santa Monica airport traffic and enjoys when shiny objects reflect off the wall.
GL: How would you describe your photography?
PW: I know I run the risk of sounding like a snobby photo nerd but hope the work as a form of expression describes itself. I guess there are always some elements of story and portraiture in what I like shooting.
G: How long have you been taking photographs as art?
PW: I got my first camera a Pentax K1000 when I was in high school. Started shooting my friends, skateboarding, road kill... Typical impressionable stuff. Using photography to tell stories and document the great people around me has always influenced and impacted everything I'm creatively involved in.
GL: When’s your next show? What's it called?
PW: Couple exciting things. . .I was recently selected to be a member of an international art collective called NAMĀĀK. I've been admiring this group of artists from afar for a couple years and I'm excited to explore with people who share a similar motivations. Also, I've been asked to show some of my pieces at Gagosian Junior Gallery in November. "Colorform" the name of the show and book I did at the Curio Gallery and Collection last year.
GL: Where did you grow up?
PW: I grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska, home of the Runza sandwich and the National Museum of Roller Skating. (Don't worry about it).
GL: What's your favorite camera?
PW: The Polaroid 600SE… People call it The Goose. It's a beefy manual instant range finder from the 80's. Fuji still makes two types of film for it, one color and one black and white. I suppose the reason I love it so much is because it's instant, it's tactile. After clicking the shutter having an instant print comes with a different set of feelings than only shooting digital. High fun factor.
GL: Why did the Chicken cross the road?
PW: To get more Instagram followers?
GL: Where do you find the motivation or the inspiration to take your camera every day?
PW: Skateboarding has always been a big part of anything that has incited me to feel inspired. How it relates to photography for me is really very simple. Both skating and photography are all about the human body moving through, relating to, adapting and experiencing an environment. Immediacy.
GL: Could you share with us the weirdest work or idea you have ever done related to your photography?
PW: A few years ago I was standing on my front porch saying goodbye to a friend when a man, probably on meth, who I later found out was a neighbor began heckling us from across the street. Somehow the situation quickly escalated from inappropriate, to nasty, to threatening. I was shocked and baffled. I guess I must have really felt like I needed to try to do something because before I knew it I was standing with my camera in his face saying things like "act natural" and "big smile now." I got punched but the pictures were amazing. A combination of misguided rage and tweaked out confusion. I remember he was wearing scull cap with yellow “have a nice day” smiley faces all over it. The pictures were really beautiful; he looked like a sad little boy. My brother thought that keeping the pictures was some kind of bad mojo and convinced me to delete them.
GL: What are your future plans and how would you like your photos to evolve?
PW: What do they say about plans? Something-something life happens when you’re busy making plans. I don’t know. I hope I’ll see how I’ve evolved after I’ve done it.
A polaroid of Helen.
This is Paddy with his daughter Adeline or Addie Pray, 11 years old.
GL: A short description of your profile as a photographer. How would you describe your job and why are you so passionate about it?
PW: Like a lot of people I can’t really do just one thing. While I’m passionate and obsessive about photography, so many other things come into play when I’m making stuff. Film, media, performance, conceptual artworks… Visuals/Photography seems to be at the heart most of all of it, driving and enhancing whatever story I’m trying to tell.
Thank You, Paddy! I know you have already heard it before, but you are one of the best people I have ever crossed paths with. Hooray for knowing you!