On 15th of June, 2014 little did Adam Padilla know that his creative life would take a turn for the positive as he sat alone and hungry on his couch awaiting a food delivery from Noodles, his favorite Chinese takeout. An empty green notebook invited him from across the room, a new possession he had recently acquired.
As he sat there devouring his wanton soup and chicken, he realized that despite the fact that the food filled his stomach, it did not satiate his hunger. He felt full of unrequited desires, filled by an anguish at not having fully exploited his creative capabilities. Walking over to the shelf, he picked up the little green notebook and opened it to a crisp, new page. He was greeted by the numbing power of creation, the ability to create anything, replicate anything from the canvas of his imagination. It was a gripping thought.
There was a time, many years ago when drawing came instinctively to Padilla. On being instructed by their preschool teacher to draw a cat and a house, his drawing of a large cat in front of a small house was the only one in the class that gave a hint of receding perspective. The praise he received gave him a new sense of euphoria, a kind of rush followed by the craving for more.
Padilla took his creative exploits to the next level, when in high school he started doodling pictures of his educators in compromising positions. A science teacher made the mistake of mentioning their love for whipped cream in public, a mistake which saw Padilla achieve new heights of popularity with a picture of the aforementioned teacher eating his way out of a hot tub full of whipped cream. The picture was widely distributed throughout the school. Padilla attended college at the Pratt Institute, an art school.
Post graduation, Padilla adopted Photoshop and a Wacom design tablet to execute various freelance projects. He was doing what he always wanted to and loved it, especially working with the restless, upstart brands who appreciated the fresh flair he bought into his work. Recreational drawing took a backseat.
As he climbed the rungs of his career, he found out that the big league organisations that he worked for weren’t much interested in his ingenuity but rather wanted him to execute their own set vision. He felt the artist in him being suffocated and admitted as much to his wife, Willow.
He co-founded the BrandFire agency in 2012. Things were going good, money was pouring in, but he still felt a futile yearning to let the horses of his imagination run free. He went on to retrieve a set of dusty paints from his parents basement in Long Island. To his dismay he found that he wasn’t any good with the brush anymore.
One Sunday afternoon, Padilla and Willow wound up at a Japanese bookstore and ended up buying the green leather journal. It was a dainty little thing, and each page was divided into two parts, one for each day, ideal for daily doodling. Excited at the prospect, Padilla took home the diary but it was finally on Sunday, 15th of June, when his wife was out on a roller skating party, and he was sitting alone with his wanton soup and chicken that he finally got around to it.
Padilla sat across looking at the empty, white paper, staring at that 8.5 by 5.5 inch sheet of infinite possibility. He drew a curved line, drastically restricting the number of opportunities that the perfect leaf of paper once held. The curved line could be any figment of his imagination, a giraffes’s throat, a man’s arm or a woman’s leg. It looked like a woman’s leg, so he drew another line marking it’s boundary. Thus he continued shaping and sketching, following his intuition and drawing whatever came to his mind. The drawing that emerged was of a cartoon feasting on a woman. It was unique and bizarre, just the way he liked it.
With the next step he took, he made a commitment to fill up the notebook within the span of a year. He uploaded the photo on his Instagram with the comment ‘First entry in my new sketchbook. Will do something everyday for a year.’ with the hashtags #hunger #adampadilla365.
On the following day, he drew the picture of a small child standing in the doorway, getting ready to face the monsters that lurk in the shadows. The picture of a man painting smiley faces on balloons came next. Day after day, picture after picture he lumbered on, enjoying the daily stimulation that his creative buds received. Padilla decided to forego pen in favor of charcoal, but to his dismay he realized that the charcoal wiped away too easily. He experimented with a pencil and finally opted for the color pencil as his regular accessory.
As his popularity and number of followers on Instagram grew, so did his dedication and commitment. The 10 minute long doodles transcended into hour long works of art. After the completion of a year, Padilla progressed to a red journal and continued amassing followers. He even got himself a protégé in Shaun D’Souza, an artist who was highly inspired by Padilla’s work and emulates his style on Instagram with the hashtag #padillainspired.
Despite the fandom, Padilla admits that he still needs to push himself at times to complete his ritual of a daily drawing. He confesses to wanting nothing more than playing with his young one after a tiring day at the office, but the commitment he has made always drags him to his little sketching journal at the end of the day. Just like working out, the hardest part is not the sketching, but gearing yourself up for it and settling down.
Padilla muses that most of the jealous commentators on his drawings barely post a handful of photos before expecting the same kind of following and recognition. Padilla says it’s his single minded approach and his commitment to himself and the public is what makes him such a gifted artist.
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