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The Talk: Can I Be You When I Grow Up?

Updated: Nov 8, 2018

We might be in the midst of a political down cycle, but we are also in the throws of a cultural renaissance.  From the beautiful nightmare of Childish Gambino´s ´This is America´ to the raw sophistication of Beyonce´s ´Lemondade´ a steady stream of poignant, relevant content is being pumped into the atmosphere and it is right on time.  From Graphic Designers to Film Directors, Creative Executives to Choreographers, this is a list of makers and thinkers that have both shaped and shaken up our world.

Johnathan Barnbrook

In the one spot is David Bowie's long time collaborator and Graphic Designer, Jonathan Barnbrook. Hello? Welcome to awesome.

Jonathan’s body of work needs little introduction. He is one of the most “celebrated Designers in the industry, where he leads, others follow". This past year Jonathan’s studio designed the identity for the blockbuster Stanley Kubrick exhibition at Somerset House, worked with the Victoria and Albert Museum on the exhibition ‘David Bowie is’, and has been working on cover art for the new John Foxx And The Maths album. His contribution to the Design world was recognised by a major exhibition at the Design Museum, London in 2007.

He is also a Filmmaker and Typographer that has released several commercially acclaimed fonts including Bastard, Exocet, False Idol, Infidel, Moron, Newspeak, Olympukes, Sarcastic, and Shock & Awe. Many have emotive and controversial titles reflecting the style and themes of Barnbrook's work. His font Mason, originally released as Manson, is available from Emigre.

But the most significant, and poignant work was his last collaboration with David Bowie on the artwork for his final album Black Star. Released on January 8th, Bowie's 69th birthday, and just 2 days prior to his death, Blackstar was a dark album about dark times.

It has, in the aftermath of the artist’s death, been decoded, celebrated, and interpreted as a poignant farewell while topping charts worldwide.

“I hope in what I’ve done there’s something that resonated with the darkness of the music in some way.”

The cover of the Blackstar album was designed to reflect the musician's mortality, according to Barnbrook.

"He always wanted to do something interesting, often to the annoyance of the record company," Barnbrook said. "He understood the value of the image on a record cover, when other people had forgotten about it."

Barnbrook's cover for Bowie's last record positions a large black star in the centre of a white background. The design is simple, but full of symbolism. "This was a man who was facing his own mortality," said Barnbrook. "The Blackstar symbol [★], rather than writing 'Blackstar', has a sort of finality, a darkness, a simplicity, which is a representation of the music."

The album artwork for Blackstar was released under a Creative Commons Non Commercial Share Alike license, so Bowie fans could rework the symbols and images to create personal tributes. That means you can make T-shirts for yourself, use them for tattoos, put them up in your house to remember David by, or even  adapt them. Download the artwork here.

Contributor: Tiffany M. Carpenter

Todd Tourso

With so much content to constantly deliver, Celebrities and Artists have become increasingly involved in the management of their brand and it has paved the way for a new breed of Creative leadership.  They are hybrids. They are part craft and part conductor, part left-brain and part right-brain, the perfect blend of analysis and imagination and they are indispensable.

“For the new breed of Creative Director the key to success is a multi-platform, 24/7, omnipresent global life. You look at Instagram, you post, you travel, you read, you are at every art and fashion show that matters, you watch people on the street, you chat, you influence,” says Tiffany M. Carpenter.

The Creative Director behind Beyonce, otherwise known as Todd Tourso, is an LA Art Director and Visual Artist previously known for his work with Lady Gaga in the Haus of Gaga.

“I think having a graphic design background prepares you for any type of visual career.”

Tourso, 37, grew up in Los Angeles and studied design and film at the ArtCenter College of Design, in Pasadena. In 2006 he started a streetwear brand called Plain Gravy that created serious heat online after a shirt he made that read PHARRELL CAN'T SKATE sold out at Colette in Paris and provoked both Pharrell’s fans and skate crews. Ironically, it was Pharrell, by then a friend, who brokered Tourso’s meeting with Beyoncé in 2013. Pre Beyonce, Torso also made stops at Warner Music, and Flaunt magazine as its creative director.

“The principles are really the same no matter what you do. Contrast, scale, minimalism. I never really looked at it like different things. To me, laying out a fashion story sort of takes the same principles as editing a music video. Directing a music video takes the same principles as directing a fashion shoot. Creating a garment takes the same principles as creating a poster. I never really saw boundaries between fields. I just see it as visual arts. I don't look at this like a concert. To me, it's performance art.”

"The reason why Beyoncé and I are able to work well together is because she's completely fearless in trying new things. She's completely relentless in her pursuit of perfection. We both have those qualities. At the end of the day, it's not about sleep or money, it's about putting something in the world that you're proud of and that you think will affect generations after you. It sounds cheesy, but that's why I'm willing to work so hard for her. There's only been a few bosses in my life who've felt the same way. When you have this type of leadership and muse and mentor, I think the sky's the limit.”

Beyoncé and Tourso are in constant dialogue with each other, sending him YouTube videos and mood boards she makes on her computer. “She’s hyper-, hyper-involved—nonstop working,” he says. Beyoncé calls Tourso “one of the most fearless human beings I’ve worked with. He understands seemingly unachievable ideas and always finds a way to advance them.”

The through line in all of their work together, Tourso says, is showing who Beyoncé is and what she cares about. The release of Lemonade was accompanied by a one-hour film aired on HBO that was as much of a media sensation as the album itself. A powerful document about the historical struggle of black women, it drew on such varied sources as Louisiana voodoo, Southern Gothic allegory, and German Expressionism, and included images of the mothers of unarmed American black men who had been shot by police.

For a closer look at the visual album check out Lemonade: The Perfect Drop

Contributor: Zoe Baker

Spike Jonze

Spike Jonze makes the unfilmable filmable. He turned ‘Being John Malkovich’, ‘Adaptation’ and ‘Where The Wild Things Are’ into perfect vehicles for his surreal vision.

He has directed some of the best music videos of all time— “Sabotage,” “Buddy Holly,” “Praise You,” “Get Back.” There’s a sort of goofy exuberance to all of them that seems to come from a place of permanent, childlike (but never childish) playfulness.

He explored movement in everything from the Fatboy Slim videos he helped to choreograph in the late ’90s, to Levi’s “Crazy Legs” commercial a few years later, all the way up to the famous 2016 Kenzo film he directed starring Margaret Qualley—which was a collaboration with Kenzo creative directors Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, who also happen to run the design label Opening Ceremony, for whom Jonze recently directed another stunning dance project, “Changers,” starring Lakeith Stanfield and Mia Wasikowska.

Now, it’s Apple’s turn to call on Jonze’s genius for dance pieces. The Oscar winner has directed a new four-minute short film for Apple’s HomePod speaker featuring yet another marquee collaborator, the English musician and dancer FKA twigs. The result is a stunning piece that’s charming, surreal, emotional, playful, theatrical and utterly compelling. It is one of the most remarkable ads of the year.

The film, titled “Welcome Home,” which rolled out at midnight ET tonight, is set to a new Anderson .Paak track called “‘Til It’s Over.” It was choreographed by Ryan Heffington (featured below), who also worked on Jonze’s “Changers” piece.

The piece beautifully conveys an emotional journey through movement (something with which Jonze clearly remains fascinated) and offers a wonderful visual metaphor for transforming one’s home—one’s physical abode, yes, but one’s headspace, really—though music. Tying things together, of course, is the product pitch—that this whole experience is delivered by the powerful HomePod speaker, curated by Apple Music, with an assist from Siri. And speaking of which, it’s just fun to see Spike Jonze direct an ad featuring Siri, given he won his Oscar for writing a film about an intelligent operating system, a fictional OS that Siri was nonetheless a little jealous of once upon a time.

Contributor: Tiffany M. Carpenter

ES Devlin

Previously featured in our season one review of Abstract: The Art of Design, OBE Designer ES Devlin is today's hottest theatrical mastermind.

Born in the London suburb of Kingston-upon-Thames, Devlin began her career in theatre, but has become known for her extensive work with some of the world's biggest music acts including Kanye West, Beyonce and U2 as well as installations for the Victoria & Albert Museum, Art Basel, Louis Vuitton and the 2012 Summer Olympics closing ceremony.

Here are 5 key projects from Devlin’s career:

Katy Perry's Grammys stage set, 2017 Devlin caused a stir with her set for singer Katy Perry's politically charged Grammy Awards performance, which featured a picket fence that grew into a wall – a reference to the barrier Trump intends to build between the US and Mexico.

The Weeknd's world tour stage set, 2017 An origami paper plane and futuristic star destroyer formed the backdrop for The Weeknd's Starboy: Legend of The Fall world tour. The structure started as a flat triangle, with wings that slowly drew up closer to its centre.

Beyonce: Formation tour, 2015 Devlin created a towering, 60-foot-tall revolving screen for Beyonce's Formation world tour. The set also consisted of a runway that performed as a treadmill, and a pool of giant water that contained 2,000 gallons of liquid.

London Olympic closing ceremony, 2012 In 2012, Devlin worked under creative director Kim Gavin – turning London's Olympic stadium into a giant representation of the Union Flag designed by Damien Hirst. A number of London's landmarks were recreated for the performance, including the Big Ben clock tower, the Tower Bridge and the Gherkin.

Kanye West and Jay Z: Watch the Throne Tour, 2011 Kanye West first became aware of Devlin's work in 2005, when he saw images of the installation she created alongside the Chapman Brothers for post-punk band Wire. He went on to commission her to create the set of his Touch the Sky world tour, and later his Watch the Throne Tour with Jay Z – which featured monolithic screens installed in the middle of the stadium.

In her latest endeavor, Devlin teamed up with architect and BIG founder Bjarke Ingels to create a 12,000-square-foot (1,115-square-metre) gallery to help entice potential buyers for The XI, a pair of residential towers in the Meatpacking District that will have more than 200 luxury condos and a hotel.

The first piece, a large, crater-like concave map of Manhattan, is entitled Egg. The work shows New York’s cityscape, set in a near-future where The XI stands proudly between the High Line and the Hudson River.

In another room, Devlin offers a closer look at the project, with a roughly yard-tall sculpture of the towers spinning at the center of a rectangular pool of water. The motion of the work suggests a waltz between the two towers, the twists and curves of their silhouettes playing off of each other. The work, naturally, is called Dance.

In the grand spectrum of Devlin’s body of work, her approach has remained the same. She translates story, music, and drama into space and architecture.

“I always look for the geometry and the system of everything.”

For Room 2022, for example, her starting point was the simple line of light that sometimes slips between the gaps of hotel curtains, “the first geometry of the day.”

Devlin was recently named the winner of the Panerai London Design Medal and made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen's New Years Honours for her services to the stage and set design industry.

She also took away the top accolade at this year's London Design Medals making her the 11th winner of the prize, awarded annually since 2007 to an individual or group that has demonstrated "outstanding contribution to London and the industry".

Contributor: Tiffany M. Carpenter

Ryan Heffington

Ryan Heffington has emerged as one of the most in-demand choreographers in Hollywood. Best known for choreographing the music videos for Arcade Fire's "We Exist" (2013) and Sia's "Chandelier" (2014), both of which were nominated for Grammy Awards, and the latter of which won him a VMA Award, his eclectic resumé also includes hit feature films, like this summer's stylized action flick Baby Driver, elegantly wacky perfume ads and collaborations with numerous musicians including FKA Twigs and Britney Spears.

But it's no lucky break: Heffington's moment is the result of years of relentless work and an insistence on preserving his singular artistic voice.

In the earlier years of his career, while the commercial-dance world kept him at arm's length, the art world embraced him. "Hanging out with artists and musicians and poets, I found a new community," he says.

In the mid-1990s, Heffington co-created the Psycho Dance Sho' with Bubba Carr, and in the late 2000s he was the artistic director for the experimental modern dance company Hysterica. From 2006 to 2009 Heffington lead the dance troupe Fingered, which combined fast-paced Martha Graham-style choreography with genderbending costumes designed by Heffington.

Around age 25, Heffington discovered that he loved to teach after subbing a friend's class. He hasn't stopped since. Teaching "gave me a platform to develop choreography," he says. In class, he would experiment to music by artists he admired, like PJ Harvey and Björk. "I believe that teaching has kept me evolving," he says. On the side, he started choreographing for art-world friends at exhibitions and fashion shows, any gig he could get. Meanwhile, he produced his own wild work, like Psycho Dance Sho, a radical punk cabaret created with Bubba Carr, which ran in L.A. from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s. "For me it was about always creating," he says. "That was my need. Through that, my exposure grew."

In 2008, he opened The Sweat Spot, an L.A. dance studio, to indulge his passion. There he teaches his popular Sweaty Sundays class, spreading the gospel of self-love and creative freedom that has guided him over the years. Whether with big stars or a newbie off the street, in the studio or on screen, Heffington sticks to his strategy: "If you make people feel good, you have access to a lot more," he says. "They feel free, loved, confident."

It was at a 2013 performance of his show KTCHN, a psychedelic, Warhol-esque dance installation, that Heffington met Sia, who saw in him a kindred artistic spirit. "He gets me," she says. "He gets my spaghetti woman, my floppy arms, my toddler lens, my anti-sexy, and he has embraced and elevated it to art status."

Sia and Heffington's collaborations have done more to raise the standards of dance in pop music than nearly any current artist integrating the forms and has propelled Heffington into a realm of visibility few dancemakers reach.

Since "Chandelier," the two have collaborated on several more music videos, including a recent HIV-awareness video starring Zoë Saldana, concerts and even an upcoming film that Sia is directing. "He's very intuitive and avant-garde without being pretentious or alienating," she says. Heffington avoids traps of pretension by focusing on storytelling through raw emotion—a response, he suggests, to his childhood. "I wasn't allowed to express myself emotionally growing up," he says. Dance helped him see "what expressing oneself meant, how fulfilling that could be."

His bespoke brand of quirky gestures and intentionally imperfect technique can make a highly trained dancer like Maddie Ziegler, the young star of "Chandelier," look vulnerable while making non-dancers like the cast of "The OA" look like confident, natural movers. "I'm interested in portraying human emotion and humanity over pure aesthetics of movement," he says. Dancer or non-dancer, his approach is the same. "I paint visual pictures through description and direction," he says. He rejects dance jargon in favor of evocative imagery and visceral scenarios. For example: "You're a possum, a car is approaching and you're going to hiss to protect your babies," he offers. "It's about an instinct, survival and need."

Though he seems to have landed suddenly on the pop culture radar, no one who has worked with him is surprised at Heffington's success. "Ryan has always been true to himself, and I believe that's why he's gotten to where he is today," says Denna Thomsen, a choreographer and dancer who has worked with Heffington for 10 years and serves as his assistant. She describes him as "always so calm." He's eager to challenge his dancers, she says, and himself. "He's not afraid to take leaps, to take a risk." That's probably because he sees value in stumbling occasionally. "I've got a library of music videos that I don't share online," he says with a laugh. Whether a collaboration wasn't smooth or he's dissatisfied with his own work, he asks himself what he can take from the experience, then moves on. "The need to fail is so important as an artist," he says. "An artist doesn't mean always creating beautiful work. That instills fear. My need to create overrides the fear of failure." That appetite for risk has led him into unexplored territory, such as co-directing Seeing You, a recent immersive dance-theater work in New York City by a producer of Sleep No More, and upcoming projects with musicians like Lorde and fashion brands like Under Armour.

But don't assume that Heffington has quieted the quirks to go mainstream—his M.O. hasn't changed since the days of Psycho Dance Sho. He credits his high-profile rise to timing, like-minded collaborators and a more generous cultural embrace of idiosyncrasy in dance. "It's a different color," he says of his style. "And I think people get hungry for that." Read more about Heffington's latest project for Apple Home Pad here

Contributor: Zoe Baker

Jessica Walsh

If you’re well-versed in the design world, you’re probably familiar with Jessica Walsh, co-founder of, Sagmeister & Walsh. The NYC-based company is most notably known for a set of graphic, body-painting ads for a luxury department store in the Middle East, in which Walsh splayed typographic images and inspirational messages all over people’s faces and bodies — ads that were printed in newspapers, in magazines, and on billboards throughout Lebanon.

But, for the non-acquainted, just a little casual Googling will tell you that Walsh was the infamous love interest (of sorts) in the viral 2013 online social experiment 40 Days of Dating that drew a cult following of millions, appealing to people’s most intimate curiosities and sensibilities through photography, typography and original artistry and is also probably the next Paula Scher. In our world she is a household name and she makes her own rules.

Walsh is a Designer, Art Director, Teacher and Partner. Her award winning portfolio includes an international roster of identities, campaigns and commercials, websites, apps, films, books and objects, for clients ranging from a mango juice brand in india to the jewish museum in NYC. But lets go back to the beginning.

What do you do if you’re offered a well paid job straight out of art school? In an uncertain economy and a landscape of unpaid graduate labor, most would say that you take it. But that’s not what Jessica Walsh did. After turning down a graphic design job with Apple for around $100k per year, Walsh instead took a three-month internship with Paula Scher (surprise) at Pentagram. She’d just graduated from Rhode Island School of Design and was determined to follow her dream of working on a range of projects, as opposed to being under the thumb of a single brand.

As an intern at Pentagram and later as an associate art director at Print magazine, Walsh had design work featured in various magazines and newspapers, including the New York Times and New York Times Magazine. In 2010, Walsh met Stefan Sagmeister, a high-profile designer known for his album covers for The Rolling Stones, Lou Reed and David Byrne, among others. “I reached out to him for advice on my work and my portfolio,” Walsh said in a short documentary produced by design blog Swiss Miss. “I didn’t think I’d ever get an email back from him.”

Sagmeister offered her a job immediately. Walsh worked in his studio for two years before making partner in 2012. She was 25 years old.

Walsh’s work is a blend of photography, handcraft and painting and her style has been called “bold, emotional and provocative.”  Some of Walsh’s best ideas have come from spontaneous play: a mindset that she says allows her to experiment, take risks and suspend what is arguably the greatest source of creative paralysis—the fear of failure.

Her work has won most major design awards and has been featured in books, galleries, museums and magazines worldwide. She has received numerous distinctions such as Forbes Magazine “30 under 30 top creatives designing the future.” Her social experiment and book “40 Days of Dating” is being turned into a movie. Her most recent project, “12 Kinds of Kindness,” was a 12-step experiment designed to open hearts, eyes and minds.

Whether you love or hate the notion of design celebs, Jessica is memorable: who could forget the nude photo announcing her partnership with Stefan Sagmeister to form Sagmeister & Walsh (a tribute to Sagmeister’s own naked debut 19 years earlier) or her now very ubiquitous bright paper-made sets that fans fawn over on design blogs and in magazines?  There's room for more than one type of rock-star and if Mick Jagger and Goldie Hawn had a love child it would have been Walsh (sorry Kate). That never happened. Well who knows stranger things have happened in Connecticut. The point is, she´s here and she´s our ‘it girl’.

Walsh teaches Design and Typography at The School of Visual Arts and is also the Founder of Ladies, Wine and Design. Only a small percent of creative directors are women, and LW&D is trying to change this through mentorship circles, portfolio reviews, talks, and creative meet-ups. The group has quickly spread to chapters in over 180 cities around the world. If you’re a student or creative in NYC and would like to join please visit the site to find your nearest chapter.

Other clients and projects of note include:

Barneys, Snapchat, 7up, The Gap, BMW, Pepsi, Red Bull, Oreos, Levis, Adobe, Museum of Modern Art, MOCA Los Angeles, Olympic committee, Guggenheim Museum, The New York Times, Lou Reed and Jay-Z.

Stay tuned for a closer look at Walsh in the Winter edition of The Playbook.

Virgil Abloh

Virgil Abloh is an American fashion designer and the Artistic Director of Louis Vuitton's menswear line, marking him the first person of African descent to lead the brand's menswear line, as well as one of the few black designers at the helm of a major French fashion house.

Abloh is set to showcase his first collection for Louis Vuitton at the 2018 Men's Fashion Week in Paris. Apart from his service to the Louis Vuitton, Abloh serves as the chief executive officer of the Milan-based label Off-White, a fashion house he founded in 2013.

Abloh, the son of immigrant parents from Ghana, grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. He obtained his bachelor degree in civil engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2002 and went on to study architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology.  But while pursuing a master’s in architecture, Abloh was designing websites and furniture and blogging about culture on the side, before catching West’s eye by strategically leaving some T-shirts he’d made for Yeezy at the screen-printing shop frequented by West’s team.

Path corrected, he shifted his focus to fashion. In 2009, he founded RSVP Gallery, an art gallery and menswear boutique in Chicago. That same year, he joined Kanye West's creative agency Donda as Creative Director, overseeing projects like stage shows and concert merchandise.

In 2012, Abloh launched his first fashion brand, Pyrex Vision, which screen-printed logos onto Champion t-shirts and dead stock  Ralph Lauren rugby shirts. Alongside this, he collaborated with Matthew Williams and Heron Preston as part of a collective called Been Trill. Pyrex shuttered in 2013. That same year, Abloh launched Milan-based luxury men’s and women’s streetwear label Off-White. He launched the company's women's wear line in 2014 and showed the collections at the Paris Fashion Week. The line was picked up by stockists like Barneys and Colette, and is worn by the likes of Jay-Z, ASAP Rocky, Rihanna and Beyoncé. His collections were selected as a finalist for the LVMH Prize, an industry award, but lost to Marques’Almeida and Jacquemus.

Abloh launched his first concept store for Off-White in Tokyo, Japan where he started the company's furniture arm, Grey Area. In 2017, he was asked to design a new collection in conjunction with Nike entitled "The Ten" where he re-designed a variety of the company's best-selling shoes. Virgil also partnered up with the Swedish furniture company IKEA to design furniture for apartments and houses. It is aimed primarily at Millennials looking for furnish their first home. The collection will be named Markerad which is a Swedish word meaning “clear-cut; crisp; pronounced” and is scheduled to release in 2019.

Abloh received a Grammy nomination for Best Recording Package, for his work designing the Jay-Z/Kanye West album Watch the Throne's. He received the Urban Luxe award at the 2017 British Fashion Awards. Abloh was listed as one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world in 2018, one of two designers.

Contributor: Zoe Baker


Platon, recently profiled in the first season of the Netflix docu-series Abstract: The Art of Design, is a renowned British photographer, whose portfolio includes photos of President Obama and the First Lady, Vladimir Putin, Muammar Gaddafi, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, among many, many others.

In his latest book, Power: Portraits of World Leaders, Platon gets up close and personal with more than 100 famous and infamous past and present heads of state. Over a 12-month period, statesmen and stateswomen sat and stood for Platon in a makeshift studio he assembled at the United Nations. The resulting portraits are respectful, insightful and presented without judgment. He leaves that to the viewer and to history.

We’re presented with our world leaders under a shroud of branding, marketing and propaganda. So I thought, under these strained times, we should see our leaders as human beings, up close and personal. And then we should take all these individual character studies and bring them together to show a group dynamic. What happens as a communal spirit when they’re all put together?

Like any great portraitist, Platon is able to quickly establish a connection with his subjects, which allows the viewer, through his pictures, to glimpse into the subject, whether a prince or a pauper. Windows to the soul have never been clearer.

The New Yorker recently shared this video taking us behind the scenes at Platon's New York studio during a portrait session and offers a glimpse at a true master at work. In the video Platon leads you around his studio, showing off some of his impressive larger-than-life prints of the larger-than-life people he's shot over the years while talking about his style, method, and creative process. It's really inspiring to see Platon pulling such beautiful, dynamic lighting out of such a simple studio setup and to see someone still working with a Hassy 500.

Platon has shot portrait and documentary work for publications including George, Rolling Stone, The New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, Esquire, GQ, TIME and The New Yorker. His advertising credits include Credit Suisse, Exxon Mobil, Diesel, The Wall Street Journal, Nike, Levi’s, Rolex, Ray-Ban, Tanqueray and Issey Miyake. In 2004, Phaidon Press published the photographer’s early portraits in Platon’s Republic.

In 2007, he photographed Russian Premier Vladimir Putin for Time magazine’s Person Of The Year Cover. This image was awarded 1st prize at the World Press Photo Contest.

In 2008 he signed a multi-year contract with The New Yorker. As the staff photographer, he has produced a series of large-scale photo essays, two of which won ASME Awards in 2009 and 2010. Platon’s New Yorker portfolios have focused on many themes the U.S Military, portraits of world leaders and the Civil Rights Movement.

The following year, Platon teamed up with the Human Rights Watch to help them celebrate those who fight for equality and justice in countries suppressed by political forces. These projects have highlighted human rights defenders from Burma as well as the leaders of the Egyptian revolution. Following his coverage of Burma, Platon photographed Aung San Suu Kyi for the cover of Time - days after her release from house arrest.In 2011, Platon was honored with a Peabody Award for collaboration on the topic of Russia’s Civil Society with The New Yorker magazine and Human Rights Watch.

Platon’s work has been exhibited in galleries and museums both domestically and abroad. He has exhibited in New York at the Matthew Marks Gallery and the Howard Greenberg Gallery, as well as internationally at the Colette Gallery in Paris, France. The New York Historical Society has exhibited a solo show of Platon’s Civil Rights photographs, which remain as part of the museum's permanent collection. Other permanent collections holding Platon's photography include The Florida Museum of Photographic Arts in Tampa, Florida and The Westlicht Museum for Photography in Vienna, Austria and the Scotland National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh.

To see more of Platon’s photography, go to

Dilshan Arukatti

Award winning Parisien Art director and Founder of the French collective Immersive Garden, Dilshan Arukatti is our wild card entry on the list.  Is he as famous and celebrated as the other on the list? No. But he probably will be someday and this list is ultimately about talent, not celebrity. Beautiful lush visuals, captivating motion and cinematic designs are the natural strengths of this Designer. Believe us when we say, his day is coming.

Recognized and rewarded for more than 20 projects, 2018 was an a-mazing year for Immersive Garden. We caught up with Dilshan and Producer and Partner, Daisy Potfer to discuss their win for  Developer Site of the Year for This Mobile Workforce.

The New Mobile Workforce project was done hand in hand with Havas San Francisco and Immersive Garden. Havas came up with the idea of creating a super interactive story around the formula 1 event and how Redbull and Citrix collaborate together to get the best of both their areas of expertise.

The idea was to focus on how to bring a maximum visual impact while creating emotion and giving a sense of « being part of it ». To achieve this, the approach was to create two levels of navigation that work in parallel to highlight a specific topic. The storytelling of the experience takes us from slide to slide into the race. On the first level the user is merged in the impression of « live » thanks to image composition that isolates elements creating a 3D effect. These effects are applied on images taken during the event, we have enhanced them but we wanted to keep the idea of witnessing the race, so we kept the imagery a bit rough and authentic.This speed impression is also illustrated in the transitions of this top level when the images are distorted when you switch to one and the other.

Each action has a big visual impact, thanks to 3D models, parallax, particles, transitions that could convey the thrill and emotion of a race. This is the level of sophistication that we have all come to expect from Dilshan and the crew at IM. Taking risks with experimental projects, and reaching the sweet spot between usability and experience has become their trademark.

This year the Studio received its second nomination and win for Studio of the Year and it was well deserved.

“For a young studio like us it's a very important recognition, we understand winning is going to give us nice visibility and an enhanced image of Immersive Garden.”

Other notable IM probably projects to include: Rain Forest Foods, Varagon, Reflect Communications, 0 Days Off, Galouis, and Black Negative.

Contributor: Zoe Baker

Hiro Murai

Hiro Murai is having a moment. We’re nearing the halfway point of 2018 and you could make the case that the Tokyo-born director is the filmmaker of the year, and he hasn’t even made a feature. Between several exceptional episodes of Atlanta—including the haunting, beguiling “Teddy Perkins”—a couple of solid outings orchestrating the increasingly violent action on Barry, and the starkly confrontational video for Childish Gambino’s new single “This Is America,” Murai has become pop-culturally omnipresent; that’s his signature in the bottom corner of your DVR. Building on an already healthy, agile body of music-video work ranging from Britpop to hip-hop, Murai has cultivated his own private (head) space on the periphery of the mainstream, experimenting with conventions and engineering images caught between art-gallery austerity and the subtextual infectiousness of social-media memes.

Hiro Murai is a fascinating dude. If you’ve ever seen Earl Sweatshirt’s “Chum” video, followed by “Hive,” you’ll notice his tendency to favor random visuals ranging from gigantic frogs to Odd Future members riding bikes in scary-as-fuck masks. That’s just the kind of imagery you’ll find through the lens of Hiro.

Growing up, he was fed a healthy diet of Takeshi Kitano Japanese mobster flicks plus David Lynch, which has, as a result, informed his unpredictable output where no video bears a resemblance to each other. Check St. Vincent’s “Cheerleader” and then chase it with the Sia-featuring “She Wolf” by David Guetta ” to see how crazy his ideas vary.

Yes, Donald Glover is a genius. Yes, the single “This Is America” is amazing and its music video is the music video to end all music videos. But he didn’t do it alone. Hiro Murai is arguably Donald Glover’s most important artistic collaborator.

The music video for the track — which Glover dropped on YouTube while hosting “Saturday Night Live” last weekend — is still a hot topic on social media and is being dissected by fans and critics alike as we write. It has earned universal acclaim and over 70 million views since its May 5 premiere.

In the surreal, violent video, a shirtless Gambino dances in an empty building as chaos erupts around him, with some of that chaos coming from Gambino himself, as he casually shoots a hooded man in the back of the head and mows down a group of choir singers with a machine gun. Later in the video, Sza can be seen sitting nearby, as Gambino dances on top of an ’80s sedan.

The video ends with a terrified Gambino running through dark hallways, being chased by a crowd before the shot cuts to black. The video has already been praised as an artistic, confrontational take on gun violence in American society, with guns being treated with care while corpses are dragged away. It is his relationship with Gambino that led him to film seven episodes of “Atlanta” Season 1, and another seven for the currently airing Season 2 aka “Atlanta Robbin’ Season,” including the much-discussed “Teddy Perkins” and this Thursday’s finale “Crabs in a Barrel.” Both "This Is America" and the second season of Atlanta (Murai directed seven of the eleven episodes) have elements of fantasy, but Murai says they're not blind to the goings-on of real life. "There’s sort of a world-weariness in both this season and the music video," Murai said. "They’re both reactions to what’s happening in the world."

What the video boils down to, Murai explained, is "a really crazy confluence of tone changes — that’s the premise of the whole video and the song, in a way." The "harrowing" yet "cartoony" violence also plays a huge role: "There’s Looney Tunes logic in there somewhere. Obviously we’re dealing with very provocative images, so it’s a total tightrope walk."

Murai describes feeling "caught [sic] off-guard and by surprise" by the video's huge reception, though he feels very gratified by fans who commit themselves to unravelling the meaning in its references ("I kind of love it, to be honest.") That fits into the mandate Murai said he had going into the video's production: making something that will surprise "media savvy" viewers. "Even from the start, our big mandate was just surprising people and trying to deliver something that people don’t know that they want to see. "

On the heels of his most recent success, Murai inked a major first-look deal with the FX to help in the development of new projects for FX and its other outlets and it's more than understandable as to why FX would want to lock down such prime talent.

"Hiro has excelled as a director and a creative force in commercials, music videos and episodic television, and we welcome the chance to see him develop his own series through FX Productions,” says Nick Grad, co-president of original programming for FX Networks and FX Productions. Hiro helped make Atlanta the most acclaimed comedy series on television, greatly contributing to its signature style and tone and becoming an integral part of the creative team led by Donald Glover. With his boundless artistry, Hiro is poised to take the next step as a television creator.

Contributor: Zoe Baker

The Wrap

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