Artists have long dreamed up different worlds, but today’s hottest visual creators want to show you something else: a different view of your own world.
With bold aesthetics and a keen cultural awareness, the visual artists featured in Adweek’s Creative 100 for 2019 often have as much to say as they do to show. Check out the 10 artists, photographers, animators and more included in this year’s list:
Photo: Erik Carter
The evolution of Brooklyn-based photographer Dana Scruggs has truly been a sight to behold. From taking photos with a mere point-and-shoot for her Etsy shop to landing three major magazine covers within the span of a month—including photographing Diddy and his family for Essence magazine—Scruggs has elevated her personal brand in a way that many could only dream of.
“This past year has been the most affirming of my life, not just as person, but also as artist,” Scruggs tells Adweek. “It took over six years of struggle and constantly feeling anonymous in this industry before I got to this point.”
Throughout her upward journey in the industry, Scruggs has maintained a vision that centers on the versatile beauty of blackness without succumbing to the pressures that come with entering the commercial market. For Scruggs, that resoluteness has been the key to her success and has earned her credits along the vein of Town & Country, Rolling Stone, and New York Magazine.
“I hope people learn that there doesn’t have to be a difference between personal work and commercial work. My commercial jobs are fun because I’m being hired for my vision and aesthetic. For me, there’s no separation. All of my work is personal.”
Cartoonist and animation producer
Photo: Eric Charbonneau
When DreamWorks reached out to Stevenson to pitch a new She-Ra adaptation, “It felt like one of those moments where you’re in the right place at the right time,” she tells Adweek.
For someone whose previous work explored “subversion of classic fantasy and sci-fi tropes, especially as they relate to female characters,” it was a natural fit.
Adapting such an iconic character was a daunting task she took seriously, but Stevenson also “didn’t want myself and my crew to feel constrained by that.” Instead, she wanted the show to evolve in a new direction, apparent in the show’s title—She-Ra and the Princesses of Power—reflecting its increased focus on She-Ra’s relationships to all the other characters.”
“This show is about friendship, but I also wanted to show that sometimes friendship can be hard, sometimes relationships can be messy and difficult and you can rise above that.”
The show moves beyond stereotypical portrayals of women in animation, with a diverse array of character ethnicities, body shapes, sexual orientations and gender identities. That diversity is reflective of a diverse and collaborative cast and crew, including an all-female writers room that is a welcome change from experiences “being one of the only women in a room” full of male writers.
“I was really excited to explore as many different ways of showing female characters as possible,” Stevenson said. “I think it’s really important to have certain shows where different points of view are centered in a way where they don’t often get to be and that creates new stories that we might not have necessarily seen before.”
Comic artist and illustrator
Photo courtesy of Jen Bartel
Artist and comics creator Jen Bartel’s career began with a love of creating fan art. As she paid homage to some of her favorite characters, she used that time to fine-tune her distinctive style and locate her voice as an artist.