My secret life: Stephen Wiltshire, artist, 34
Saturday 24 January 2009
The home I grew up in ... is in Little Venice, Maida Vale, London. They have some beautiful houses there: luxury flats, boats and barges, and my mum's house.
When I was a child I wanted to be ... an artist, drawing with pen and pencil. I used to do architectural designs for buildings, penthouses, skyscrapers, Canary Wharf, New York, LA and Chicago. I also got into drawing classic American cars.
The moment that changed me for ever ... was when I was at Queensmill School [in London]. I used to draw animals, and at the age of seven suddenly found London landmarks very interesting. My teacher Chris Marris took me out for trips to discover them. By 14 I was commissioned to draw the developing Canary Wharf.
My greatest inspiration ... The teachers who looked after me at school. Chris Marris was a very nice man; he taught me a lot.
If I could change one thing about myself ... Nothing really. I love strolling around the streets, making up new ideas, buying my magazines, and drawing.
At night I dream of ... being at Hamleys on Regent Street and finding all the models of classic Seventies cars; drawing celebrities such as Sienna Miller; my favourite music videos; driving my own car – and taking [the Beverly Hills 90210 actress] Jenny Garth for a ride.
What I see when I look in the mirror ... I think that I am a good looking, happy young man.
My style icons ... are Jemma Kidd, Cameron Diaz, Charlize Theron and Matt LeBlanc from Friends. Plus Adam Garcia and Will Smith. I still quite like the late-Eighties and early-Nineties style.
The shop I can't walk past ... used to be Woolworths and is now Hamleys. I always pop into WH Smith, as well, to buy my magazines.
A book that changed me ... is about London architecture; I got it for Christmas.
My favourite work of art ... is almost anything from Richard Estes, his paintings are like the real thing.
My favourite item of clothing ... I like suits, ties and shirts, and sometimes I put on my dinner suit for events. It looks really nice on me.
I wish I'd never worn ... that hat when getting off the helicopter in Hong Kong. It slid down on to my nose, I did not see a thing and the photos were in the papers the next day.
It's not fashionable but ... I like to wear slippers at home. I always wear slippers at home: I don't want to get my feet dirty when I walk around and they are more comfortable.
You wouldn't know it but I'm very good at ... playing the piano, singing and sight reading. I am really good at playing "Stand By Me" by Ben E King and "Wonderful World" by Sam Cooke. I also sang "My Cherie Amour" by Stevie Wonder at my sister's wedding.
You may not know it but I'm no good at ... swimming. I don't like it because the water is always too cold.
If I have time to myself ... I like to stroll through the city, working on new ideas. I visit new developments or just take the DLR to Canary Wharf.
I ride ... public transport. I still prefer the old double-decker bus. I usually sit upstairs as the view is better from there. When I am invited for events I am always driven in a Land Rover. Once I drove a car on Brands Hatch. I was 17. I broke the clutch several times.
My most valuable possession is ... my talent. I think I am very talented and I am good at what I do.
My favourite building ... is the Canary Wharf development in London. It's all brand new, squared avenues in New York style, with new offices everywhere, stations and piazzas. It's somewhat futuristic.
Movie heaven ... Rain Man. Dustin Hoffman plays Raymond Babbitt, Tom Cruise plays Charlie Babbitt. "I am an excellent driver," says Raymond. It is very funny. And they drive a 1949 Buick Roadmaster Convertible. Raymond plays an autistic savant. I have watched it a lot of times.
The person who really makes me laugh ... is Raymond from Rain Man, and Joey Tribbiani and Ross Geller from Friends.
The best invention ever ... is the aeroplane. I travel a lot around the world and I would not want to sit on a boat for weeks.My house ... is in Maida Vale. I love Maida Vale: it is a very nice place and it's easy to get to my gallery at Pall Mall.
The last albums I bought/downloaded ... were by Kayne West, Beyoncé, Rihanna, All Saints, Kool and the Gang, Appleton and the Backstreet Boys. My iPod has just stopped working.
In 10 years' time, I hope to ... have my own penthouse, living there with my friends in good company.
My greatest regret ... is not meeting my dad any more. He died in an accident when I was a little boy. I miss him very much.
My life in seven words ... Keep doing what I do best, drawing.
A life in brief
The artist Stephen Wiltshire MBE was born in west London on 24 April 1974. When he was three, his father died and Stephen was diagnosed with autism. He started drawing at five; Sir Hugh Casson of the Royal Academy described him as "the best child artist in Britain". He has featured in numerous documentaries and his work is displayed in the Stephen Wiltshire Gallery, Royal Opera Arcade, London SW1. He lives with his mother in west London.
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