Tuesday, September 27, 2011

5 Questions for Cator Sparks

Cator Sparks is a Southern transplant to New York City who has made a Harlem townhouse his home and where he is proud to be Block President. From there he incubates (usually in a caftan) in his Vreeland red office conjuring up pitches focused on menswear, travel and design. Those pitches have fortunately been picked up by the likes of The New York Times, T Magazine, and The Moment, Elle D├ęcor, Rodeo, City and Out Magazine as well as Style.com, Wearethemarket, Contributing Editor and Hintmag.com. Cator is also the U.S. Editor of WeAr Magazine. By night he can be found anywhere from a high brow social soiree to a down and dirty dive bar looking for new stories, new designers and of course, new cocktails.

Q1.Which song or record has really changed your life?

CS: World Clique by Deee-Lite. That was the first record I listened to that really seemed unlike anything else in the world.
It seriously made me feel funny and tingly. I knew that that was the kind of lifestyle and people I wanted to be with and the kind of music that would get me through a rough day at school. The first time I met Lady Kier years later I nearly cried. She is still a friend and she still has that magic touch.

Q2. When did you know you wanted to write about and chronicle the world of fashion and style?

CS: When I lived in London for a year of school in 1998 I would email friends and family once a week with a story on all of my antics. I kept getting responses from people that I should really start writing as a career and not just a hobby.

Then in 2002 I was on a trip in India for a friends birthday and met a woman by the name of Meredith Ethrington-Smith. She is a great writer and a real personality in London. I told her I wanted to write and she stared me down and boomed, "I want you to buy a computer the moment you get home and I want you to write every morning before going to work and I want you to send it to me to read. You will be a writer!" So I did and here I am.

Q3. You are a traveling man. What’s your favorite spot so far in all of your global trotting?

CS: I've been all over the world but nothing recharges me like going home to the South. The Golden Isles of Georgia are one of my favorite places in the world with the scent of paper mills in the air, grand old oak trees and Spanish Moss swaying in the breeze. I try to go somewhere once a year that is off the grid and I have little to no internet or phone service. This year I went to the Persian Gulf with my mother and fell in love with Oman and last year I spent a month in Africa roaming Mozambique, South Africa and Botswana. It was total heaven.

Q4. Tell me a little about the fabulousness of living in Harlem.

CS: Well it has its ups and downs. I have been here for ten years and in the last two it has really changed. We have our own restaurant row on Frederick Douglas Boulevard! It's a magical place on Sundays when I wake up to tambourines and gospel from the church down the street and the block parties are always good fun. People actually say "Hello" on the street up here and don't just rush by in their oversized sunglasses, Uggs and Starbucks like they do in Soho. I also am fortunate enough to live in an amazing historic townhouse with the milliner, Rod Keenan and it truly is a home. At the same time the chicken and fish bones that litter the sidewalks are a nightmare now that I have a dog who tries to chomp on one any chance he can get, which of course is very bad for him. No puppy hospital please!

Q5. Your new role is as the Editor In Chief of Lookbook. How does this differ from your freelance life as a writer for the New York Times, Huffington Post, Acne Paper and W.com?

CS: Well for one thing I actually get a check once a month. What a novel idea! Being freelance is very difficult since you never know when you will get paid. But besides that it gets me out of my house more. I usually write from home all day and hit some events in the evening but now I go in the office several days a week and it is nice to actually get dressed and work with other people. Writing is one of the loneliest jobs in the world and it is very exciting to get some validation from other people that my ideas and columns for the site are working and are getting good feedback. I will still keep some freelance going since it is fun to have some variety but this job really is non stop and I am learning alot. Who knew Google docs was so amazing?

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