You reconsider what gives you enjoyment in your off-time and then at work, what you actually need to be doing. It’s easy to confuse activity with progress.
In the lead up to Father’s Day, Map of the Heart is interviewing dads to celebrate and discuss how they balance fatherhood and a burgeoning creative career.
Patrick Johnson, Founder P Johnson Tailors.
Can you discuss what you do here at P Johnson Tailors?
We make mens clothing, but pretty much all from scratch. This was our first showroom here in Sydney, and we have others in Melbourne, New York and London. The idea is to work with our clients to help them get the ideal wardrobe.
Where do you source most of your materials from?
90% will come from Biella in Northern Italy. We often source linen from Ireland, and then little bits from Belgium, UK and Japan.
How did you get into tailoring?
I was in London studying design and I happened to meet a tailor. We got along great and I decided that tailoring was for me. I liked the practical approach to it all and I really enjoyed being able to work with people one on one. So, I sort of fell into it over there before moving back to Australia and starting P Johnson.
Your approach to tailoring is about creating the ideal wardrobe, which stretches far beyond only shirts and suits.
Yeah. It’s just about getting the right result for people in terms of making the dressing process really simple and enjoyable. That’s what I like about it. We do everything from formal suits to casual shirts, drawstring trousers, and polos. It’s about working with each individual to create a wardrobe which makes dressing a hell of a lot easier. Also, they are able to get stuff, which for whatever reason, they couldn’t previously find, whilst developing their own style and aesthetic.
All of your showroom interiors each have their own unique identity and style.
Definitely. And in saying that, every client wants something different so its about understanding that difference and trying to get the best result for someone. Be that in terms of their work type, lifestyle and also their budget.
Tell me about your son, Arthur. How old is he?
He is one year old. He was born in Sydney, and we live in Tamarama.
How do you find balancing frequent travel with your wife, who is an interior designer, and Arthur?
I guess it’s all we know. It’s definitely easier just travelling with the two of you, but we all have to go everywhere together. It slows you down a little and you can’t cram as much in. Logistically, there’s just more to think about in terms of food for an extra person, but it’s not difficult so long as you slow down and plan it all out. To be very honest, my wife cops the brunt of it more because she’s the stronger one on the organisational side. That, and she had to give birth to him. I’m sort of the assistant whereby I’m making sure I can do as much as I can. I really enjoy travelling with him, but I think it’ll get a bit trickier when he reaches three or four.
It’s a shame that he’s a bit too young and probably won’t remember a lot of these experiences. Sometimes you feel bad putting them on planes regularly, but I prefer that to us being apart.
Do you have any fears related specifically to Arthur and fatherhood?
How about fears in general” Because I have a few of those. (Laughs). It’s this typical thing when you have a child, because you think about the future more. But fears, not so much. You think about how you spend your time. For instance, I used to think that I was so busy and I had so much on, and then you add this element into your life which takes up a lot of time and you realise that there’s even more (time) than you think. I feel like I have more time now than I had before because you value it differently. You reconsider what gives you enjoyment in your off-time, and then at work, what you actually need to be doing. It’s easy to confuse activity with progress. So, I think that’s what I’ve considered more.
That, and being a better you. When you’re at home with your kids, you need to be the best version of yourself. My wife and I both work full time so when you’re with them and at home, you need to make sure you have time with your phone off and not mix looking after them with work.
“You need to consider that those people around you are just as important. I believe very strongly that the love you get is from the love you give.”
Is Arthur fascinated by your phone?
Completely. Little kids are so attracted to screens, and I think that it comes from a very young age. I know a lot of people who believe it’s good for their education, but that doesn’t work for me. I think the ability to have a meaningful conversation with someone, and the ability to interact is very much a lost art. I want my children to learn that and not have to interact through technology if it’s unnecessary.
And is there one particular thing which you try to give him as a father?
I don’t know. Hopefully I can teach him some good habits and skills in life to help him be happy. That, and to be more present when he’s doing something. To be engaged. Be intrigued by things. You know, making sure he’s always curious. As he gets older, the way he treats other people is important. Ensuring that he’s compassionate and caring, and that he understands that there are somewhat 6 billion other people in the world and that you’re only one of that. You need to consider those people surrounding you are just as important. I believe very strongly that the love you get is from the love you give. I just teach him those things. And that your actions have consequences, so think about what you do. But I don’t know how I’m going to teach him that as a 1 year old. (Laughs).
Christopher Morris, Photographer.
Where are you from?
I was born in Sydney but my family moved up to Brisbane when I was five. I studied there and then moved to London for a couple of years, then moved back to Sydney around 17 years ago.
How did you get into photography?
I guess it was through school. They had a pretty good art department and I studied photography for one semester and suddenly fell in love with it. I realised that I could actually have a career out of which would be pretty cool. So, I studied a bachelor of photography at the Queensland College of Art. I started out doing a lot of music stuff, such as shooting live music and band portraits, and then moved into fashion a bit later after coming to Sydney.
Do you primarily shoot fashion and editorial now?
It’s a bit of a mix at the moment, but mostly fashion and portraiture. I used to do a lot more editorial but there seems to be less of that around. And I do try to diversify a little bit.
I’m also putting together a body of work for an exhibition and publication from an extensive trip to Alaska earlier this year.
How many children do you have?
One of them is nearly 5 years, and the other is 1 and a quarter. They’re both boys. Cedar, the eldest, and Asher.
And do you feel that having children has affected your work in any way?
Definitely in terms of lifestyle, but I’m not sure about work. I think it’s probably about the rate in which you can get work done, but I wouldn’t say that they’ve changed too much of my work, in terms of aesthetic. It’s just more so being able to manage work around having kids. I guess anyone does to an extent. Both Elke and I are self employed and running our own businesses, so it’s just the challenge of managing both our work and the boys. We’re very 50/50 with it, and neither person is left with more responsibility than the other. At the moment they are in school and daycare, which helps, and we’ve got a lot of family support from Elke’s family because they live close by.
Do they visit your parents often?
My family have all moved further south, so they’re living in Northern NSW now. My brother has had two boys as well, and they live in an old church in Billinudgel. The age of our kids are roughly the same so they get really excited to play with their cousins.
Do you like having two boys? I guess you can’t really say that you don’t. (Laughs).
Well it would’ve been nice to have a girl, just because there’s no girls in our family. In saying that, you can’t choose how your cards are dealt. I love both my boys and their personalities, but of course there’s pros and cons to both.
What do you feel is the most important thing to give your kids, specifically as a father?
Especially with boys, I feel that I’m a bit more of a role model in terms of my behaviour. They are sponges and literally mimic anything you do, so that’s kind of been the biggest responsibility. There’s been times where things I’ve said have been repeated by them and I’m like “Oh god! I can’t say that anymore.” Similar with behavioural things. If I’m playing the guitar, they sings songs now and it’s quite funny to see their expressions.
So I guess it’s the power of influence, and knowing that.
Yeah! And them having a role model. They receive a lot of nurturing from both of us, but I guess they seek more of that from their mother. In terms of other things, they do look to their dad to an extent for being a ‘boy’.
“You have to think about how things can change their lives even by changing something small in yours."
Are there any notable fears which you’ve experienced in fatherhood?
The idea of loss, in any aspect. One day we were at the Everleigh markets and I was talking to a friend as Cedar was playing in front of me. We were talking about the idea of kids being taken in the street and that thought being such a nightmare. As I was saying that, he went missing. I was panicking, scouring, trying to find him in a sea of legs and feet, and then Elke too was panicking and calling security. It turned out he had just wandered down to the other end of the market because there was a biscuit he saw there earlier which he liked the look of. (Laughs).
Do you feel this fear of loss has changed your perspective on the value of other things?
Well I guess when you have kids, it’s knowing that life is definitely not about you anymore. The amount of energy, priority and focus is entirely on somebody else, rather than yourself. That’s kind of a huge thing. You can’t be as selfish, and you can’t just pick up and go travelling. You have to think about how things can change their lives even by changing something small in yours.
And do you think that selflessness comes naturally, or is it something which you adapt to?
I think it’s all part of the process and the journey. You have to accept that your life is going to change, and from there it grows into other responsibilities.
Photography by Traianos Pakioufakis
Interview by Map of the Heart