Month of Visionaries
by Liz Ream
When Winnie Au and the Refinery 29 crew arrived at New York based director and producer Casey Neistat’s studio for their scheduled photo shoot, Casey announced that he had an emergency root canal just hours earlier, and the Novocain was still wearing off.
While Winnie was worried that he might cancel the shoot, he assured her otherwise, saying that he “couldnt talk as much as he usually would, but he could pose for photos.”
And pose for photos he did. As Winnie soon learned, this was not your typical New York director: “Soon after this he was jumping on his skateboard, showing us some hidden cameras in his studio, teaching my assistant how to use a punching bag, swinging on his gymnast rings, and I’m pretty sure he walked on his hands at some point.”
Casey is what Refinery 29 calls a “visionary,” and he was the first of thirty one subjects that will be revealed in their “Month of Visionaries” project—a month of celebrating those select individuals who are turning their professional or creative field on its head.
From his small SoHo loft– equipped with gymnast rings, a homemade window made out of a video camera and a TV screen, hidden cameras, punching bags, countless point and shoot cameras, photos, labels and posters all meticulously organized– Casey has racked up over 150 million viewers on his YouTube channel which features short, homemade mini stories. Through this, the innovative mastermind has attracted clients such as Nike, Mercedes Benz, and the New York Times.
As one would imagine, Winnie was “like a kid in a candy store,” saying:
“Casey himself and his studio are 100 percent unique- there wasn’t anything in his space that didn’t show his touch, his imprint on it- so it truly was the perfect kind of environment that really tells a story about Casey as an artist.”
Winnie shot 22 portraits over three weeks for the Month of Visionaries project (all the NY-based subjects), and Refinery 29 will reveal one on every day of the month of August. Keep up with the project on their site, as well as project sponsor Stoli Vodka’s editorial site.
Winnie said they have been seeing a good amount of positive feedback on the project so far, and that she has learned a lot through the creation of it:
“Personally, from meeting so many amazing creatives, I learned a lot about staying inspired, finding the things that keep you inspired, and following your heart and vision to make things happen. I think that each and every person we met had that thing that makes them tick. And for all of us, it’s important to foster the environment for yourself that likewise makes you tick.”