Creative & curious at every turn
Kate Neckel has been doodling, illustrating and bringing her dreams to life ever since she can remember. From a fortuitous stint in Paris where she found herself in Karl Lagerfeld’s studio, to art school, to assisting David Byrne and documenting the beginnings of Zac Posen career, she’s been consciously carving out her own unique creative path.
Neckel has created drawings for magazines like Vogue and Vanity Fair, for various billboards and even for beehives (Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm). She even has her own line of bedding with the Italian textile brand Bassetti! Now, she’s gathered all her prompts, mantras and gorgeous drawings in one place, the creativity journal START NOW!, so everyone can jump start their inspiration.
Here she shares the New York spots that get her thinking, and more.
You started your career snapping backstage pictures of Karl Lagerfeld in Paris and Parisian skaters? How did these opportunities come about?
It was 1997 and I was curious about everything: music, fashion, art, photography. I went to Paris to do a little soul-searching and ended up sneaking into a Yohji Yamamoto fashion show where I recognized one of models as my friend from Baltimore, Jason Muhlberger. I found my way backstage, met up with him and he took me out to Bain Douche and that’s how I met Athena Currey. Athena is now the co-founder of The Posters but back then she was modeling and she was my creative sidekick. We made art during the day and documented our lives in photographs.
One of our adventures took us to Karl Lagerfeld’s studio. Athena was in his show and while she was in her fitting I found myself sitting across from Karl. I was flipping through a book of his photos and started asking him about his work. He was so wonderful and immediately began giving me advice saying things like “Kate, you must have a vision…you must really LOOK and see things…” He grabbed a pen, signed the book and let me hang out and snap photos in his studio. He also invited me backstage at his show so that I could take pictures behind the scenes.
After fashion week wrapped up, Athena left for NYC but I still had a few more months in Paris. One afternoon I saw a guy skating around the Fontaine des Innocents and was so struck by him that I had to stop him mid trick and say hello. His name was David and he became my muse/boyfriend. He introduced me to his friends (other skaters) and I spent my last bit of time in Paris living with him and taking photos. I was left so inspired by my time in Paris that when I returned to the University of Maryland, I changed my major from Art History to Art Studio. I knew I had to translate my experiences and that’s how things got going…
What places that spark your creativity in NYC?
Can you share your favorite neighborhood haunts?
What are you listening to right now as you work?
Beast of Burden by The Rolling Stones.