If McFadden makes any money from his art, you could call his story the ultimate rags-to-riches tale. It was in a coffee shop on Great Western Road in Glasgow that he first spoke to another Glasgow artist, Peter Howson. Laughing, McFadden describes how he would hang around cafes in the city’s West End hoping to meet a famous artist, any famous artist.
Howson was the first one he spotted. ‘’I knew his work because I used to stare at a poster he’d done advertising the Don Giovanni opera, with all these intertwining bodies, and I thought it was blindingly good,’’ says McFadden. ‘’But how I knew who he was, I really don’t know. I was nervous, but I made myself talk to him. I’d seen him in the cafe the day before and I’d missed my chance. I wasn’t going to do it again.’’
Howson arranged to meet McFadden so he could see his artwork. McFadden took everything. His school drawings, sketches he did while working as a sign writer, college competition entries and the suicidal pastel pieces from his ‘’dead’’ period, depicting heads on plates and grotesque monsters. Howson said it was the best work he had seen in years.