My Favorite Creative People This Year.

December 23, 2009
Elise Gould

“Tis the season to post your retrospective blogs and stories, right? Right?

Well, yes and no.

I have to admit that this particular post won’t have the focus of many in the category. Meaning, I don’t feel confined to the last year in choosing those who make my illustrious list. So please forgive me this structural liberty right up front, and I promise that I will be more rigid in my blogging during the New Year. It’ll be Item #5 on my resolution list – agreed?

Anyway, I’ve been privileged to be on the creative side of the advertising business for a few years now, which has bred a great amount of respect for creative people in any field. I think it’s fair to admit that my background is in copywriting, which surely has influenced my choices. So if you don’t agree, feel free to say so. Post a few of your choices or knock mine around in the comments section.

That said, I’m proud to present my short list of the people who stand out as creative to me in 2009:

Andrew Goldsworthy

I’m ashamed to say that I knew very little about this brilliant man until recently. Few deserve the title of “visionary,” but I believe it truly applies here. In short, he is an environmental artist, creating his works from natural and found objects. Each one blends or augments its natural surroundings with remarkable insight.

I first discovered Goldsworthy flipping around the HD channels on cable. I had stumbled upon the documentary about his work, entitled Andrew Goldsworthy’s Rivers & Tides. With a few simple twigs or some iron powder, he transforms natural landscapes into something new. Something beautiful. If you’ve not had the pleasure of seeing it for yourself, I suggest you change that immediately. There is a simplicity to his work that makes you completely re-approach yours.

Joss Whedon and Kurt Sutter

Two very different writers/TV show creators. Two men very deserving of the critical acclaim they’ve received.

Joss is certainly the more seasoned of the two. He cut his teeth writing on Roseanne, but his career took a series of turns after that. He’s most known for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spinoff, Angel – which, undoubtedly, influenced Stephanie Meyer and all the hype that follows her. Still, his most brilliant works to date include Firefly, its movie follow-up Serenity, and the viral Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Currently, his work is on display with the TV series Dollhouse, which, though standing on its last leg, is a smart commentary on the pitfalls of advancing technology.

Sutter, on the other hand, has achieved notoriety with a couple milestone TV shows. Both have aired on the FX Networks, which immediately identifies them as grittier fare. The first was The Shield, one of the smarter and darker takes on the cop-drama I’ve seen. Just finishing its second season is his current offering – Sons of Anarchy. I’m not sure why this bit of biker brilliance has been overlooked by the industry awards to date, but it’s one of the best dramas on TV.

On a side note, also check out his blog. Particularly his post on October 30th. You have to love the fact that he’s doing it his way.

Ed Brubaker and Warren Ellis

Okay, I’ve outed myself with these choices. I read comic books. There, I’ve said it. It feels good. Want to know why? Because comic creators are shaping some of the smartest fiction out there right now. And though many comic creators could occupy this space, these two are doing some things that impress me most.

Brubaker is my current hero when it comes to writing dialogue and finding a niche where there wasn’t one before. Case in point is his current run on Captain America. Once a tired icon of a hero, Brubaker transformed his voice, making him quite cool again. Of course, he also killed him off, but that’s neither here nor there. Also noteworthy are Sleeper and Criminal – a series that has brought the hardboiled crime comic back into the spotlight.

Ellis has created so many comics, I’d bore you to death if I ever tried to list them all. So I’ll call out some I think are his best – the ones that defined the “widescreen style” that many other writers ape today. Personally, I love his work on The Authority, but his unexpected takes on the art form are best displayed in Global Frequency and Planetary. Once you digest those, you’ll be ready for more.

Lady Gaga

Honestly, I didn’t want to like her. I fought her the whole way. I thought she was the pop equivalent of the shock jock, but since then, I’ve surrendered. I’ve been won over, dammit all.

You win this round, Gaga. Not only have you made me appreciate your unique fashion sense, but I’ve also loved your cynical take on fame and love with Poker Face, Paparazzi and Bad Romance.

Frankly, it’s shown a business sense akin to Madonna. So well played, madam. You’ve become my guilty pleasure. I look forward to seeing and hearing what comes next, as I suspect you’ll be around awhile.

Jonathan Ive

Ever heard of him? Many haven’t, and yet, he’s been responsible for so many things we use in our daily lives. You know that song you just listened to? It was played on a device he designed. You know the market share Apple has grabbed on style alone? It’s because of his eye and influence.

As Senior VP of Industrial Design at Apple, Ive gave color to the iMac, made white plastic cool with the iPod, smacked aluminum on the Macbook, and kept the lines on the iPhone simple when every other smart phone tried to be something out of Blade Runner. Personally, I’m curious to see where he goes from here. Considering how many are dialed into Macworld, I think it’s safe to say I’m not the only one.

Whoever writes Lee Clow’s Beard

For those tuning in from the wide world of communications, you may already know about this little Twitter gem. Some of you may know who’s behind it. I don’t – so please don’t spoil me.

I’ve purposely stayed away from any such information, as the wisdom is dead-on to anyone in the business of advertising or anything related. One of my faves was a recent holiday tweet: “Dearest client, In the spirit of the season, we’re donating all our remaining 10%-bigger logos to charity in your name.”

Wit and wisdom in only 120 characters – 20 to spare. You’ve become the wizard of whiskers, LCB. So razors beware – you’ll have to go through me first.

Well, there they are. Agree or disagree? I know I missed some, so give me a hand. Who do you think deserves some creative recognition for their work this past year?


2 Comments. Leave new

Great post Gary. Lady Gaga has yet to win me over but I like your list.

I would like to add Justin and Samuel Halpern, the people behind the twitter account @shitmydadsays. They turned the funny verbal abuse of a 70+ year old into a book and television deal. We’ll see how well it translates to these other mediums — but so far I love it.


Wonderful blog! I found it while surfing around on Yahoo News. Do you have any suggestions on how to get listed in Yahoo News? I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Thanks ccdkggebefkf


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