The Artist and the Storyteller

By Jenn Rose Smith
Kate Zimmerman & Luke Turpin

When we first thought of the “It Couple” series, we wanted it to be a place to share great love stories from inspiring couples. I imagined myself getting to hear the up-close-and-personal romances of interesting people, doing truly interesting things together as couples. I’m not sure there has ever been an installment of the series that has brought that vision to life for me more than this one featuring photographer Kate Zimmerman and professional storyteller Luke Turpin. They’ve traveled the world together making art, adventuring, and working for charities they’re passionate about together. This couple is SO cute, SO romantic, and SO in love it hurts. (Of course it doesn’t help that they’re both mega talented, drop dead gorgeous, and incredibly young, too.) Consider yourself warned.

photographed by kristen kilpatrick

First things first. We’re dying to know how you two met. Give us your “meet cute”!

Kate: Well, we to the same college but only knew of each other. I always thought he was cute (and younger)! 

Luke: I knew of her virtually before I met her in person. She was living in Peru working at a coffee shop and taking photos and I thought, “I’ve got to meet this girl.” I asked her out cold as soon as she got back to Austin.

Kate: He direct messaged me via intsagram (21st century dating at its finest ;)) asking me if I was interested in accompanying him to the Avett Brothers ACL live taping. The rest is history!  

Kate, what was your first impression of Luke?

Kate: The first thing I noticed was the way he treated our waitress at dinner before the show. As I got to know him more, I saw how he extends this kindness to every stranger he encounters. I was extremely impressed and still am today.

And Luke, what was your first impression of Kate?

Luke: I was surprised how easy it was to be with her, how time slipped by while we were together. I was also thinking how beautiful she was.

Wait a minute — who is this cute fellow? How does he play into your story?

Kate: I got Hank three and a half years ago and he had been the main boy in my life until Luke walked in. Both were skeptical and a little threatened by each other at first. Fast forward… now they are inseparable. 

The couple stand in front of a large scale painting created by Luke.

Kate: Luke surprised me with this piece after I mentioned that I wanted a big painting to cover up this awful electric fire place in my room. He created it with a broom! It was his first painting and I will always cherish it.

This is really fun timing because the two of you just got engaged. Kate, tell us how it happened!

Kate: On the day we were celebrating me my birthday, he asked me to go on walk with him so he could give me my present. He had crafted a handmade book of mementos and special memories from the past two years. The last page had an envelope with a ring in it. The moment felt truly ours.   

The coat rack in Kate’s minimalist home serves to display textiles collected from her many travels.

Luke, tell us about the ring you chose for Kate — was it a surprise? Or did she pick it out?

Luke: I shot from the hip on the ring. I knew she likes gold and I wanted it to be timeless and simple. The diamonds around the center stone are my grandma’s. 


A collection of original art and found objects hangs on a dark blue wall in Kate’s bedroom.

Okay, now on to the hard questions (wink wink). Kate, what’s the hardest thing about being in a relationship?

Kate: Well for us, it was being in a long distance relationship but now, we have marriage to look forward to – I’m sure we’ll pioneer through some tumbleweeds.

And Luke, what are your thoughts? What’s the hardest thing about being in a relationship?

Luke: Deciding where to eat.

You two are both artists — do you have similar aesthetics and creative processes? How do you differ? 

Kate: Yes and no. We have very similar taste but completely different style in how we approach things. Luke likes to sit and marinate on an idea before he jumps in. For me, I’m a bit more eager to create and go with comes to mind. In other words, Luke is more careful and intentional and I am more intuitional.

Luke: We are very different creatively. She is more of a pure artist than I am.

Do you ever create works together?

Luke: We do… most of what we create together are meals. Though we do paint together occasionally.

While we’re on art, you two seem to have such an eye for finding great pieces. Tell us about this one:

Kate: We got this in Spain when I had visited Luke while he was living abroad.  We met the artist, had a wonderful time in her studio, and just had to leave with this entangled people piece!

Luke: It was a flat ceramic piece. We mounted it to the canvas when we got home.

Kate, what do you admire most about Luke?

Kate: The way he approaches art and ideas is similar to how he lives. He is admirably intentional and thoughtful with with his words, actions, and relationships. Also, the way he turns into a little kid when he is outside.

Colorful art supplies on the studio floor behind Kate’s house.

And Luke, what do you admire most about Kate?

Luke: The small gap between her front two teeth

What’s the best relationship advice you’ve ever been given?

Luke: Don’t try and fix your partner. Celebrate their uniqueness.

Kate: Be patient.

Tell us about a particularly memorable trip or date:

Luke: Last winter, we drove out to West Texas and spent some days in Big Bend, Marfa, Terlingua, and Ft. Davis. I feel like that trip was significant for us. We drove around gawking at the ocotillos, took a bunch of film photos and spent time together completely un-rushed. 

Describe your relationship in 5 words or fewer: 

Kate: spiritual, encouraging, creative, goony, travel lovers

Luke, when did you know that Kate was the one?

Luke: That’s tough to answer. A month before we got engaged we got in a fight, which we rarely do. At the end of it, I realized that even though I was fuming and hurt, I didn’t love her any less. Things moved pretty quickly after that.

How do you two keep the romance alive in your relationship?

Kate: Kitchen time, studio time, foot massage time.


For single friends still looking for the one, what advice (if any) would you give on dating in the modern world?

Kate: Be good and be true. Authenticity is attractive.  

Luke: Be you or I guess be true? Something like that. It’s a crapshoot. 

Can’t get enough of Kate and Luke? Follow them on instagram: