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As we've seen in photography, it takes a good amount of courage and dedication to be different. To stand out amongst all the other talented individuals in this world requires both an innate ability and a strong drive.

Today, we turn our spotlight on artists. The dictionary defines art this way: "It's something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings." These are the people who have expressed their unique viewpoint in an emotionally compelling way. Their works are not only groundbreaking, pushing the boundaries of art forward, they're imaginative, making us believe, if just for a moment, that anything is possible.

Before we take a look at these inspiring artists, stop by our sponsor's site, Lookmatic. They offer fashion-forward eyewear at really affordable prices. You can customize your frames by choosing your preferred style and color. Feel a bit daring one day but a bit subdued the next? You can easily match your mood just by sporting a different pair of glasses.

1. Ai WeiWei



The most famous Chinese artists of our time, Ai Weiwei creates everything from sculpture and installation to architecture and film. One of his greatest achievements was collaborating with Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron in designing the Beijing National Stadium for the 2008 Olympics, which resembled a giant bird's nest. A political activist, many of his works often carry deep social meanings and some are even a stark criticism towards China's attempt at censorship. Tate Modern's director, Vicente Todolí, once said that Ai’s installations rank “among the most socially engaged works of art being made today.”

 

2. Do Ho Suh



Seoul, Korea-born Do Ho Suh is a master at creating site-specific installations that question our idea of identity or who we are in the midst of today's global society. With a BFA in painting from the Rhode Island School of Design and a MFA in sculpture from Yale University, Suh takes his background in art and design and applies it in making thought-provoking sculptures and installations that center around such themes as personal versus private space and displacement, or what it truly means to be home. The Korean-born artist splits his time by living and working in Seoul as well as in New York and London. He's one of today's global artists who uses his life experiences to make us think about the physical and abstract idea of home.

 

3. Cai Guo-Qiang



Whether he's making a pack of wolves appear as if they're flying in slow motion in mid-air, creating drawings using gunpowder, or orchestrating explosive events, Chinese Cai Guo-Qiang always manages to surprise everyone with his bold techniques. Much of his penchant for using both gunpowder and explosives comes from his experiences during his youth and adolescence, as Cai grew during China's Cultural Revolution. Just recently, for the Queensland's Gallery of Modern Art, he created Heritage, a surreal installation consisting of 99 life-sized wild animals gathered around a watering hole. A departure from his more pyrotechnic works, Heritage brought together both predator and prey in a place where they could all come together in harmony.

 

4. Leo Villareal



New York-based artist Leo Villareal is best known for his monumental public light installation called The Bay Lights. Consisting of 25,000 LEDs strung on the vertical cables of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, the artwork cost an incredible $8 million to install. Villlareal uses computer programming and LED lights to create both installations and light sculptures, all mesmerizing works that feel futuristic. Back in 2008, he debuted Multiverse, a work made up of 41,000 computer-programmed LED nodes that ran through a 200-foot-long space. The underground walkway was completely transformed, as programmed sequences created hypnotic patterns and stunning trails of light.

 

5. Urs Fischer



Swiss-born artist Urs Fischer creates works that are unpredictable. Though he's influenced by historical art movements like Pop Art or Surrealism, he's found a way to be distinct or far different from the rest of today's contemporary artists. Whether he's making it rain indoors with clay raindrops or completely collapsing everyday objects like beds and pianos into themselves, Fischer makes us believe that we've all stepped into his world, one free of rules and constraints and one that feels absurd but fun.

 

6. Leandro Erlich



Buenos Aires-born artist Leandro Erlich creates extraordinary installations that challenge perception and defy all logic. Drawing inspiration from fellow artists as well as directors like Alfred Hitchcock, Roman Polanski, and David Lynch, Erlich has said that they “have used the everyday as a stage for creating a fictional world obtained through the psychological subversion of everyday spaces.” One of his most memorable works involves a fulls-sized swimming pool that allows visitors to walk inside of it without getting wet. More recently, children as well as adults gravitated toward his optical illusion house that used a giant mirror to make it seem as though they were boldly scaling a building.

Which of these artists are you most inspired by?

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