For those of you who have strict rules on what it means to be an artist, you may not like the following list very much. Click HERE to be re-directed.
But if you are like me and are of the opinion that an artist is someone who can convey an emotion, a feeling, a thought, or create a sign of the times perhaps by capturing a period of time, then you might enjoy my humble list of ten unique artists for going forward.
1. Li Edelkoort
To watch Li Edelkoort walk across a stage and take her place in front of a spotlight while a deafening silence falls over the room is akin to watching one of those super-speed videos of a seedling growing into a thousand-year-old tree – you innately know you’re in for a treat. Auditoriums pack and floor boards buckle as people gather to hear what fashions, colors, artistic, and cultural trends this living sign-of-the-times predicts will be cool. Li even predicted Obama winning the 2008 election saying that “Bush was too black and white. People need a middle ground – grey. Obama is black and white, Obama is grey.” Li holds an honorary Doctorate of Art from Nottingham Trent University, has been named one of Time magazine’s 25 most influential fashion experts, and headed The Design Academy Eindhoven, which thanks to her has become the teat of the best industrial designers in the world including Maarten Baas. She is the mastermind behind the company Trend Union (and a host of publications) and has been “the wizard behind the curtain” for companies like Coca-Cola, Nissan, Estée Lauder, and Gucci. The future is literally in Li Edelkoort’s hands.
2. Charles Guislain
Who the hell is Charles Guislain?! Don’t even ask me how to say his name because he is soo insider and of the moment that I don’t even know. What I do know is that there is a lady in the fashion world named “Diane Pernet” \pər-ˈnā\ and she is known for spotting fashion’s bright young stars. Charles (the tiniest and chicest teenager you ever did see) is Diane’s protégé and everyone is betting their unborn children that Charles will be the future of fashion design – men’s fashion in particular. Check out his MySpace and YouTube clips of him and you might fall in love; if you’re into twinks, dark aesthetics, or fashion, you may fall very hard! Google him and you’ll find websites claiming they can get you his home address. FYI: Charles is also a good example of Li Edelkoort’s developing trend on the feminization of men and the uni-sexing of the sexes…also seen coming out of Tokyo.
3. Tavi Gevinson
The New Girl in Town, literally, probably doesn’t even have “grass on the field” yet, but she’s playing in fashion’s major leagues. Thirteen-year-old fashion blogger Tavi Gevinson (her blog has 4 million readers) was recently flown to New York Fashion Week, from her home in suburban Chicago, to report on the major shows for POP magazine. The young journalist even sat front row at the Marc Jacobs show. It took me 21 years to get to a Marc Jacobs show and I had to stand…in the back! I’m not bitter. And she’s already rubbing shoulders with world-renown fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto and super-stylist Katie “Grand-a-Minute” Grand and has been named a muse for the collection Rodarte.
4. Lady Gaga
Ya know, I saw it comin, but I didn’t think it would hit this fast. I remember being at a Trend Union presentation many moons ago and Li (see person #1) made a battle cry for more creativy, bigger forms of expression, and did I say more creativity? Who would have thought some musician from relative-New-Jersey-obscurity named “Stefani” would sweep the world up in her firework-exploding bosom and perform at the MTV VMA’s covered in blood and glitter only to be hoisted up above the stage like a dead fish at the end (see video below)? Not since Madonna’s Like a Virgin VMA performance has it been so clear that a musical idol has been cast in iron – an idol, who years from now, future artists will thank for “breaking ground” and “making it OK”. I just hope she doesn’t squander her money and O.D.
5. Enrique Cruz
Yes, that Enrique Cruz. Enrique Cruz helped shape modern pornography with the first depictions of homo thugs who “knew what was up,” leading the way for sites like Taggaz.com and PapiThugz.com. Before him, blacks and Latinos were “a Cosby-kind of black” – white on the inside with house music playing in the background. Cruz is also known for creating one of Vivid Entertainment’s best-selling lesbian scenes. Asked how it was possible for him, as a gay man, to do such a thing, he said “I had to set up the shot and go into another room while they filmed because the room smelled like…” Cruz is a graduate of SVA, owns the Uropa Media Network (Frillr.com, Dyfuse.com, et al), and is currently working on more traditional formats, like his documentary-style short film After Party Babies. Now we need famous black people to come out so gay can really be ok in black communities. Hear that Q**** *****a, W*** ****h, and T**** ****y?
6. Maarten Baas
I really can’t think of someone who has up-ended the world of industrial design the way Maarten Baas has…maybe IKEA. A graduate of The Design Academy Eindhoven, his thesis, a collection of burnt furniture, drew resistance from the Academy’s faculty until Li Edelkoort (see person #1) stepped in and gave it the green light. His idea: push the boundaries of what is acceptable by charring wooden furniture; the result: a bunch of black chairs that are coveted from China to the MOMA in New York. Baas successfully continues his thought-provoking work at his Dutch studio and has collaborated on projects with the Gramercy Park Hotel and historic French champagne house Dom Ruinart.
7. Terry Richardson
Fashion photographer Terry Richardson is known for his raw, candid, and often voyeuristic images. One of his self portraits features him wearing a muff mustache…you only see his face from the nose up because the rest of it is buried between a woman’s legs. His work has appeared in French Vogue, GQ, and Harper’s Bazaar (just to name a few) and he has worked with Leonardo DiCaprio, Jay Z, Karl Lagerfeld, Barack Obama, and Pamela Anderson (to name a few more). You could consider Terry’s work one of the catalysts in the cultural shift that has made it OK for celebrities like Carla Bruni-Sarkozy and Rihanna to have nude photos of themselves available without much negative backlash.
To pose nude for Terry, click HERE.
8. Wayne Sterling
Not familiar with Wayne Sterling? It’s OK, I’m still getting acquainted as well. Jamaican-born Wayne is the journalist, if you will, behind TheImagist.com – the internet den of all that is fashion and art and cool. Turn to him, the daddy of cutting edge everything, to learn what you’re missing out on and what you need to know. Visit his website for a glimpse into a world, via his posts and visitor comments, where the insider fashion speak gets so deep, it makes even yours truly feel like an outsider. As Wayne likes to put it, he’s “hunting for a tremor or a twitch that could change things…It’s all about the (visual) orgasm, no?”
9. Bill Kaulitz
Not since the early days of The Beatles and the glam rock days of David Bowie and Queen, has a girly man caused such mass hysteria and pandemonium the way Bill Kaulitz has. German-born Bill, the lead singer of Tokio Hotel, is known for his decidedly androgynous look and chart-topping music. He also holds the distinction of being the youngest person to be immortalized by the Madame Tussauds museum of Berlin. He and his bandmates have received dozens of awards, including World Music Awards, Golden Penguins, MTV Awards, Comet Awards, and several Bambi Awards, which Elton John, Tom Hanks, and Donatella Versace have also won. Oh, and he’s also another example of Li Edelkoort’s growing feminine-dude movement.
10. Oprah Winfrey
Sorry, I had to go there. In 1998, Deborah Tannen, a professor at Georgetown University, said in Time magazine that the Academy Award-nominated Oprah Winfrey created a new form of media communication – “rapport-talk.” Lest we forget Oprah’s influence on the literary world…a promotion by the magazine publisher and five-time author will turn a lowly paperback into a best-selling hardcover. And her production company, Harpo, spawned the television careers of Dr. Phil McGraw, Rachel Ray, and Dr. Mehmet Oz – and they didn’t have to sleep with her to do it. And then there are her TV channels, yes, her TV channels: Oxygen and the soon to be OWN (the Oprah Winfrey Network) – outlets for other actors and artists to show their craft. And well, she’s one of the richest woman in the world and if she sees me “bigging her up” on Art+Culture, I might get a free flight to Chicago.