Most artists do not do just one thing. There are many painters who also play piano, many writers who have their own bands, and many comedians who also act. But there are a few that I would consider to be truly exceptional in this regard, and for this reason they are some of the people that I most admire in the world. This could also basically be considered just a list of people I find cool, and I won't apologize for that!
My favorite, the one who’s career I most aspire to emulate, is by far Donald Glover. Known as Childish Gambino for his musical work, his music moves me in a strange, alien way that hardly any other music does. This alone could rank him as one of my favorite artists, but Glover’s talent goes far beyond that. He went to NYU for a degree in creative writing, and before he graduated he was hired as a comedy writer on the hit show 30 Rock. Glover also wrote hilarious stand-up that helped him land a role as the hilarious dumb jock Troy on Community. Most impressively, he wrote and starred in the hit drama-dy series Atlanta, for which he won Emmy’s both for writing and acting. He also has done voice acting, showing up in the cartoon of my childhood Adventure Time as Marshall Lee and as Simba in the live action version of The Lion King. From singing, to rapping, to writing, to acting, to stand up comedy, there seems to be nothing that Glover can’t do, and can’t do exceptionally.
Lady Gaga, in everything she does, is the essence of an artist. Everything from her look to the way she performs is meticulously thought about. She is unapologetically weird, unapologetically true to herself and inspires her fanbase to do the same. Somehow, she makes music so good that it makes me, someone who doesn’t like electronic or dance music (which were her wheelhouse for a long time), disregard genre and listen emphatically. But you can’t be fooled by her use of autotune effects on her tracks, because she often crosses genres - most notably into jazz, where she has collaborated multiple times with jazz legend Tony Bennett. She has won multiple Grammys in addition to an Oscar for her music. She is an amazing performer, blending her vocals, dance, and weird artistic vision into invigorating performances that move you. Beyond that, she is an amazing actress, playing complicated characters with more nuance than most actors who are only actors. She is also the founder of a makeup line I personally love, and is a reflection of her dedication to self expression.
Gerard Way is best known as the front man for the band My Chemical Romance, a band he formed after witnessing 9/11 while on a ferry from New Jersey to New York City. Way has stated that music was therapeutic for him, and served as a way for him to deal with his addictions and depression. He and his bandmates wrote one of my favorite albums of all time, 2006’s The Black Parade, a concept album following a cancer patient dealing with the inevitability of his death. He is also both a graphic artist (providing much of the concept art for the bands albums) and a writer, and uses his skills to write and illustrate graphic novels. In 2007, he wrote The Umbrella Academy, a graphic novel series that was adapted into a hit Netflix show in 2019.
Tyler, the Creator
Tyler, the Creator is an artist who is constantly developing and changing. Before I ever knew he was a rapper, I would see clips of his comedy sketches and be in tears laughing. Early on in his career, Tyler had his own comedy show on adult swim, along with the other members of his art collective Odd Future. This was, of course, supplemental to his music. His style grew from a horrorcore sort of emo rap to something much lighter and ethereal like Flower Boy. But not only is he an amazingly skilled rapper, but he is also a producer, having sole producing credit on Igor, his most acclaimed album. But his artistic prowess doesn’t end there; his stage name, Tyler, the Creator, originated from his MySpace account where he showed his visual art. Tyler used his skill with visual art to design the cover art for his music-collective’s albums. And finally, Tyler oversees his own successful streetwear line Golf.