Started in a Dive Bar, Now He’s Here: Napkin Killa on His Next Moves

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Images courtesy of the Napkin Killa

Started in a dive bar, now he’s here, drawing for Fendi, Bloomingdales, Diesel, and more. Here’s what the Napkin Killa is up to next.

This fashion illustrator isn’t what you normally think of — unlike BlackBook’s own Joseph Larkowsky, Spencer Ockwell, who goes by Napkin Killa, isn’t about capturing the clothes; he’s more about picking up and documenting the personalities and quirks of fashionable figures. What started out as sketching patrons of a dingy dive bar, posting the portraits to Instagram, turned to a discovery of his work by an editor at New York Magazine’s The Cut, where he was commissioned to illustrate NYFW in the fall of 2014. That work eventually leading to commissions at events for Fendi, Bloomingdales, Diesel, Jack Threads, and more fashion clientele — all drawn on stacks of cocktail napkins.

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Working in fashion has so far gone well for the illustrator — after just eight months, he was able to quit his day job, going, as he says, “full-time Killa.”

“I still draw at lots of events and have been getting inquiries about flying me around the world to do my thing,” Ockwell said over email. “I’m starting to make my own merchandise, featuring my art. Right now I have iron-on patches, stickers, original art and printed napkins available on napkinkilla.com.”

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He’s not napkin-exclusive, and has also made a mixtape of comedic rap, rapping over artists like Drake, Snoop Dog, Rick Ross, and Ginuwine. Tomorrow, June 6, he’s throwing a carnival with Espolon Tequila, where he’ll be, comedic rapping and yes, drawing portraits on napkins. Those who’ll be in Brooklyn can RSVP here

Next up: the Napkin Killa wants to collaborate with brands on capsule collections, painting murals, and he has plans to self-publish a book later this summer.

By email he told us his view for the future:

“I plan to infiltrate the fine art world too, and sell my silly drawings for millions of dollars in a fancy gallery while sipping wine… I’ve been involved in creative projects my whole life; drawing, writing, painting, shooting movies, and animating cartoons. This silly Instagram gimmick has unexpectedly become a little soap box, so I plan to ride this wave and expand it into a brand, beyond napkin portraits, to house my creative endeavors. I dream of getting my own TV show (half cartoon, half live action). I aspire to have a cartoon published in The New Yorker. If I ever want to accomplish that goal, I might have to start wearing cardigans and playing the cello. They may sound like lofty goals but hey, if I can make my living off doodling on napkins at parties then anything is possible!”

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