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Creatives Poised to Change the World in 2014

by Whitney Ricketts
craft & maker, featured

Clockwise from top left: Sagmeister, Brooke Shaden, Brene Brown, and Dev Hynes.

Clockwise from top left: Sagmeister, Brooke Shaden, Brene Brown, and Dev Hynes.

As we chart our own hopes and dreams for 2014, we look to our colleagues in the creative space for inspiration, motivation, and revelation. Here are 10 artists, musicians, photographers, makers, and entrepreneurs whose brave, hard work is poised to change the world — and challenge all of us to push beyond what we know.

Aaron Huey

Photojournalist Aaron Huey. Photo via Facebook.

Photojournalist Aaron Huey. Photo via Facebook.

Aaron Huey’s formal occupation is ‘documentary photographer,’ but his projects extend beyond documentation and into activism. This year, the National Geographic contributor, Stanford Knight Fellow, and TED speaker is working on two upcoming features — about the Georgian Republic and indigenous community in the Himalayas, respectively. But his sights are set beyond his regular gigs for The New Yorker, National Geographic, and The New York Times. “I already got into all the magazines I wanted and made all those connections,” Aaron told City Arts in a recent interview. “How do I now start to affect change within systems from the inside? I’m not satisfied with the restrictions of print media. I want more.”

Michelle Dunn Marsh

With book imprint Minor Matters, publishing veteran — and Photo Center Northwest Director — Michelle Dunn Marsh is changing the world one beautifully-designed book at a time. Identifying a gap in the market between professional publishing and crowd-sourced publishing, Michelle launched Minor Matters to shepherd book projects from development to production — with the support of the audience. Minor Matters launched in August 2013 with five books, including three titles by photographers Anna Mia Davidson, Larry Fink, and David Hilliard. All books are priced at a flat rate of $50, and once a book has accumulated 500 pre-orders, it goes into production and printing.

Stefan Sagmeister

Designer Stefan Sagmeister. Photo via Facebook.

Designer Stefan Sagmeister. Photo via Facebook.

Designer Stefan Sagmeister, of creative design firm Sagmeister & Walsh, is a man obsessed with happiness — how we find it, keep it, and train it. For the past four years, Stefan has been working on a documentary project about his own happiness, examining when and how it moves through him. In an interview with The Atlantic, Stefan points to this quote from 17th-century philosopher Blaise Pascal: “All men seek happiness. This is without exception. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. This is the motive of every action of every man, even those who hang themselves.”

The Happy Show is currently touring the world, and The Happy Film will be released in 2014.

Dev Hynes

Musician Dev Hynes. Photo via Mixtape Maestro.

Musician Dev Hynes. Photo via Mixtape Maestro.

Dev Hynes “all but defined the sound of pop in 2013,” according to The Guardian — and yet few actually know the name of the man behind such notable acts as Britney Spears, Florence and the Machine, Solange Knowles, and Theophilus London. Dev, a 28-year-old composer, producer, and musician who records his own music under the name Blood Orange, is poised to break out of his current state of being, as a friend puts it, “demographically famous.” Of his own creative process in the studio, Dev says, “It forces you to have confidence in what you create. Everything I do, I build a kind of confidence net – ‘I’m able to execute this, it’s fine’.”

Brooke Shaden

Fine art photographer Brooke Shaden. Photo via Facebook.

Fine art photographer Brooke Shaden. Photo via Facebook.

Brooke Shaden is a photography wunderkind, a creative visionary working tirelessly to master her craft and create world of images to reflect the universe she images. In 2013, Brooke bought a new house, published a book, and traveled the world. This year, 2013’s rising star becomes a brightly blazing planet — as she launches her own photography school, publishes another book, returns to creativeLIVE to teach Master Your Craft, and begins work on a documentary. Of the year ahead, Brooke says, “Everybody dreams, and I see no reason why 2014 can’t be the year when those dreams become reality. After all, a dream is so appealing because it represents what we want but do not have; and what we have is so often in our control.”

Lindy West

Writer Lindy West. Photo via  Facebook.

Writer Lindy West. Photo via Facebook.

There are few humans bolder and braver than writer and editor Lindy West. In the past two years, Lindy landed a job as a staff writer at Jezebel, received the bizarre Twitter wrath of Roseanne Barr, won the Women’s Media Center Social Media Award, to name just a few accomplishments. If 2013 was the year the world fell in love with Lindy (thanks to articles like If Comedy Has No Lady Problem, Why Am I Getting So Many Rape Threats? and For Chrissakes, There Is Nothing Wrong With You: A Dating Manifesto), 2014 will be the year history does.

Jon Jon Augustavo

Filmmaker Jon Jon Augustavo. Photo via Art Center College of Design.

Filmmaker Jon Jon Augustavo. Photo via Art Center College of Design.

Jon Jon Augustavo is best known as the man behind Macklemore’s born-to-be-viral music videos (for “Thrift Shop,” “Can’t Hold Us,” and “Same Love”). And, with his cadre of celebrity clients — which includes everyone from Justin Bieber to Big Sean — and proverbial mantel full of awards, music videos could be Jon Jon’s sole focus. However, the Seattle-born, LA-based filmmaker is hard at work on a number of commercial and personal projects — including a short film entitled “How to Disappear Completely.” Dogged in his pursuit of cohesive narrative, Jon Jon recently explained his creative process an interview with MySpace. “I’m always interested in making something that has a beginning, middle, and end that people will, hopefully, be interested in seeing what happens.”

Brené Brown

Vulnerability expert Brené Brown. Photo via Facebook.

Vulnerability expert Brené Brown. Photo via Facebook.

Brené Brown has spent the last decade studying vulnerability — and its relationship to shame, courage, and worthiness. Brené’s work has been featured on NPR, Oprah, CNN, and her two TED talks, “The Power of Vulnerability” and “Listening to Shame,” have been watched by over 15 million people. In addition to her work as a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate COllege of Social Work, Brené recently launched The Daring Way, a training and certification program for helping professionals. This year, Brené is making some major career changes — and she’s confronting new levels of vulnerability in the process. “There are no guarantees when we step into the unknown,” Brené wrote in a recent column for The Huffington Post. “But these periods of discomfort can give rise to life’s most important adventures.”

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Whitney Ricketts

Whitney Ricketts is CreativeLive's Senior Communications Manager. Email her at whitney [dot] ricketts [at] creativelive [dot] com.