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Bold Decisions, Creative Risks, and General Badassery:
The Creative Executive Team Selects Some of Our Favorite Movers and Shakers

This month we were inspired by our interview with Jene Park of Thomas Wylde. She’s an all around inspiration when it comes to charting your own path as a creative entrepreneur. Inspired by her jump from a full-time role at BCBG to start her own line of clothing, it got us thinking about other creative risk takers we admire.

So for our latest list from The Creative Executive, we’ve pulled from industries spanning from design, to food, to journalism. In fact we even kick off the list from the biggest players in the hospitality industry.

So read up and be inspired to take your own creative risks!

AirBnB: How have two designers and tech guy single-handedly disrupted an entire hospitality industry? Ask Nathan Blecharczyk, Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, the three founders of AirBnB. Who would have ever thought you could turn your apartment into something that feels like a world-class hotel and a truly authentic traveling experience? Bold travelers wanting an immersive experience (but don’t want to sacrifice cleanliness and comfort), are turning to the site everyday. Plus, there are individuals who have turned hosting into a lucrative second income – all of these factors make AirBnB a company with a 2.7 billion dollar valuation and a household name.

The Sartorialist: Imagine walking up to someone you found attractive, intriguing, or flawlessly fashionable and asking to take their photo? Founder/blogger/photographer Scott Schuman began The Sartorialist with the idea of creating a two-way dialogue about the world of fashion and its relationship to daily life by engaging everyday people (and a handful of super hot models) in the process. In addition to the blog, Schuman’s work has been featured in GQ, Vogue Italia, Vogue Paris, and Interview; for GQ, Schuman shot and edited his own page for over three years.

Love and Lemons: When you run a blog that features food, every time you enter the test kitchen you’re taking a risk. Food blogger Jeanine Donofrio of Love and Lemons does just that: trying out new recipes and delivering only the finest to you. Her work has been covered in  Redbook Magazine, Food 52, Refinery29 and SELF Magazine. Love & Lemons was recently named 2014 Readers Choice Best Cooking Blog by Saveur Magazine.

Martin Parr: British Photograph Martin Parr has a keen eye and daring creative aesthetic. His site bio, written by Thomas Weski, says it best: “At first glance, his photographs seem exaggerated or even grotesque. The motifs he chooses are strange, the colours are garish and the perspectives are unusual. Parr’s term for the overwhelming power of published images is ‘propaganda’. He counters this propaganda with his own chosen weapons: criticism, seduction and humour. As a result, his photographs are original and entertaining, accessible and understandable. But at the same time they show us in a penetrating way how we live, how we present ourselves to others, and what we value.”

Twenty Bliss: We feel in love with Sarah Köhler, the creative leader behind Twenty Bliss, when reading Design Good’s article about this young talent, which states “TwentyBliss began as a blog to collect real stories of young artists and creatives, as opposed to the clichéd stories about people in their 20’s Sarah saw showing up in her daily newsfeed.” In an industry that often looks to curators and critics to decide what is assigned value, making time, space, and a platform for young talent to get exposure is critical. Sarah made the jump out on her own before most of her peers – a bold move that is paying off!

Blu: Graffiti artists take many risks. (Namely, facing fines or prison time or hefty fines.) Which is why our list wouldn’t be complete without a nod to at least one street artist. Blu, dubbed by many as the “Italian Banksy” lives in Bologna, Italy and has been on the scene for over 15 years. Blu’s most famous artwork culminates in a graphic animation composed of hundreds of paintings on walls that apply to a seven minute animated mural. This incredible video is called Muto, and has over 10 million view on YouTube. Street Art News said of his work, “Blu’s aesthetic search is motivated by a belief in an open source philosophy. His amazing work stands as truth against political events and other socialistic controversies in today’s modern age.”

Azuma Makoto: If being an artist isn’t hard enough work, imagine if your medium was plants. That’s one ambitious creative undertaking, but artist and designer Azuma Makoto runs a haute couture flower shop called JARDINS des FLEURS in Moto-Azabu, Tokyo. His work with plants and flowers culminates with a wide variety of sculptures, installations and objects using trees, leaves, moss, and other plants both organic and artificial. One of his most ambitious works included sending a gorgeous structural bouquet into space.

Paul Jarvis: What we love about Paul is his radical transparency about how his he makes money by doing client work and his own projects.  Awesome and enlightening, his articles, newsletters, and original writing are packed with great advice and accessible honesty.

Dan Gilbert: If you were to ask someone what is the biggest gamble on real estate, betting on Detroit might be the answer. But the “fantastically wealthy founder and chairman of Quicken Loans” is doing just that. This Detroit native has spent $1 billion acquiring nearly three million square feet of real estate in this struggling city. Will his bet pay off? Only time will tell. But either way, we are impressed with this visionary and creative risk taker!

Amanda Burden: New York’s chief city planner during the Bloomberg administration, Burden revitalized of some of the city’s most familiar features — from the High Line to the Brooklyn waterfront. To have both the vision and the political will to make these major revitalizations happen, you can see how Amanda Burden has made our list.

Stefan Sagmeister famously closes his creative boutique’s doors every few years for what he calls “a mini-retirement.” His off-year creative pursuits have been chronicled in books and Ted Talks. He has inspired a generation of “follow your passion and your art” design followers.

Studio Neat: Crowdfunding is like turning your creative baby over to the masses. But Studio Neat has fearlessly done it again and again – successfully. They shared their experience and learnings in their ebook, It Will Be Exhilarating.

Jessica Hische has tons of fans for her incredible lettering and design work. But it might be said that she further thrusted herself into the creative leadership world with a daring and a candid post she shared on her blog called “The Dark Art of Pricing.” Her honesty and love for her fellow designers shone through by giving them a glimpse inside her studio and her process.

Dan Cassaro publicly took on Showtime with a simple tweet, and in doing so created a recent rallying-cry for designers everywhere. But it isn’t just his tweet that landed him on this list, his bold, visionary work has been featured in the New York Times, Rolling Stone and Wall Street Journal. You know, just to name a few.

Christian Helms: We don’t know how many designers also become restaurateur, but as a Austin-based company that frequents Frank, we’re not complaining. Part owner, his creative work touches every aspect of the dining experience. And beyond his phenomenal design studio, he also designs boots. Pretty amazing, if you ask us.

These are Things: Jen and Omar, the creative team behind These Are Things, may have opened their shop relatively young, but that hasn’t stopped their skyrocketing success. They dove in with little experience running their own shop, but have learned as they go. They’ve even published an Unconventional Guide called “Designed to Sell” chronicling everything they’ve learned along the way and offering up advice and resources for others.

Vice Magazine’s editorial crew gets some mad props for creative risk taking – heading to crazy places and reporting on the most bizarre stories. Explore their site, read their magazine, or HBO go their show – these are truly some risk takers.

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