The Lavin Agency Speakers Bureau

A speakers bureau that represents the best original thinkers,
writers, and doers for speaking engagements.

Future Shock: Chuck Klosterman’s But What If We’re Wrong? Out Now

Speaker and cultural critic Chuck Klosterman’s latest book, But What If We’re Wrong?, is now available.

But What If We’re Wrong? is Klosterman’s ninth full-length effort, and has been hailed as “a series of intriguing thought experiments” by Publishers Weekly and a “clever, speculative book [that] challenges our beliefs with jocularity and perspicacity” by Kirkus. It’s an in-depth dissection of the ideas we take to be self-evident today, and whether they’ll be questioned—or even abandoned—in the future.

What aspects of 21st-century culture will survive 100, 200, even 1,000 years from now? What if the facts we’re completely convinced of today don’t hold up tomorrow? In But What If We’re Wrong?, Klosterman encourages us to think about the present as if it were the past, considering everything from science to sport to pop culture. Gothamist says of the book: “Klosterman probes the very notions of existence and longevity, resulting in perhaps the most mind-expanding writing of his career.” He’s been interviewed recently by The Guardian, CBS News, NPR, and Slate, and two excerpts from the book have been adapted into articles—a piece on the dubious future of football for GQ, and a prediction as to which musician will best embody “rock’n’roll” for future generations in The New York Times.

But What If We’re Wrong? imagines hitting the fast-forward button, then sifting through what’s left of the tape. Who knows what will still be heard?

As a keynote speaker, Klosterman steers through popular culture with deftness, poise, and wit, and approaches our media-saturated society with genuine intellectual curiosity. To book Chuck Klosterman for a conference, event, or other speaking engagement, contact The Lavin Agency today.

Rough Draft with Reza Aslan Premiers This Sunday Night on Ovation

Exciting news! Bestselling author Reza Aslan is the host of a new talk show premiering this Sunday on the Ovation Network. Rough Draft with Reza Aslan promises to be a rollicking, lively, often hilarious conversation about writing and the writer’s life with some of the best authors, poets, screenwriters, songwriters, and journalists working today (think Inside the Actors’ Studio—but with music and cocktails!).

“Today’s biggest scribes (screen, television, books and press),” the official description reads, “sit with Reza for a lively discussion that’s intimate, provocative and always entertaining. Intercut throughout the show are clips of unscripted and exclusive green room footage featuring Reza, the main guest and the evening’s musical guest, all sharing tales over drinks prior to the show.”

In an interview with Stephanie Stephens of Ovation Network, Aslan describes the new series as “five great shows—all different, with a different aesthetic, and different feel to each one of them—but each really fun, and instructive. You will always learn something about the creative process from this show.”

The premier episode features TV legend Norman Lear (The Jeffersons, All in the Family) and musical guest Ingrid Michaelson (Lights Out). Upcoming guests include Jill Soloway (Transparent, Six Feet Under), Mike White (Freaks and Geeks, School of Rock), Gideon Raff (Homeland, Tyrant), Tim Kring (Heroes, Crossing Jordan), and Damon Lindelof (Lost, World War Z).

In addition to being the bestselling author of Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth and No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and History of Islam, Aslan has taken part in a number of thought-provoking television projects. He worked as producer on Leftovers (HBO), and is executive producer of the upcoming Of Kings and Prophets (ABC) and the host of the new spiritual adventure series Believer (CNN). He’s also internationally famous for his calm, measured responses to baiting interviews about Islam on FOX and CNN—both of which went viral.

Rough Draft with Reza Aslan premiers this Sunday, February 28 at 8:30 p.m. EST, 5:30 p.m. PST. Be sure to tune in!

To book Reza Aslan as the keynote speaker of your next event, contact The Lavin Agency speakers bureau.

First Look: Molly Crabapple’s New Book, Drawing Blood

VICE editor and world-famous visual artist Molly Crabapple’s new book hits stores on December 1, 2015 from HarperCollins. Described as “an unforgettable memoir of the years between 9/11 and the Occupy movement—in New York City and around the world—by the renowned underground artist and journalist,” Drawing Blood captures an artist in provocative dialogue with the world at the height of her powers.

Called “An emblem of the way art can break out of the gilded gallery” by the New Republic, Crabapple has drawn in Guantanamo Bay, Abu Dhabi’s migrant labor camps, and with rebels in Syria. She is a contributing editor for VICE, and has written for publications including The New York TimesParis Review, and Vanity Fair. Her work is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art. 

At this year’s Annual George Polk Awards Seminar in Brooklyn, Crabapple spoke to the seminar’s theme of “Satire in Journalism” with insights into her creative process, and the human truths Drawing Blood promises to deliver:

I truly believe that good art is antithetical to cliché. Cliché robs people of their humanity. It turns them into objects and stereotypes. Good art is all about puncturing that. So just by doing art that’s good, thoughtful, rigorous, you’re cutting away at cliché; you’re trying to get to the straight human truth of the matter. 

More about Drawing Blood:

In language that is fresh, bracing, and deeply moving—and illustrations that are rich, irreverent, and gorgeous—here is a memoir that will change the way you think about art, sex, politics, and survival in our times.

From a young age, Molly Crabapple was a rebel in search of a cause. After graduating from high school on New York’s Long Island, she left America for Europe and the Near East, a waiflike yet steel-sprung young artist plunging fearlessly into the faraway cultures she had come to love through the stories of her artistic heroes. 

Returning to New York as an art student, she supported herself by working as a model, a burlesque performer, and an early model for the famous SuicideGirls. Eventually she landed a gig as house artist at Simon Hammerstein's legendary nightclub The Box, the epicenter of decadent Manhattan nightlife before the financial crisis of 2008—where she witnessed the class divide, between the bankers of Wall Street and the entertainers who walked among them in a bawdy, drug-fueled circus of mutual exploitation. Then, in the wake of the crash, the emerging Occupy movement galvanized Molly to lend her talent to a new form of witness journalism. Dubbed “Occupy’s greatest artist” by Rolling Stone, she went on to write and illustrate stories from Guantanamo to Syria to Rikers Island to the labor camps of Abu Dhabi, transforming her work—her lifelong tool for making sense of the world around her—into a voice for the powerless. 

Now, with the same blend of sharp-eyed reportage and unforgettable artwork that has marked her work in venues from the New York Times to Vanity Fair to Vice, Molly brings this tumultuous era back to life in a book that captures art and life in our times as viscerally as Patti Smith captured hers in Just Kids.

In her talks, Molly Crabapple speaks on the direct ways that making art contributes to political movements—by adding the visceral and immediate power of images to the words and ideas that drive political engagement. She helps us recognize the opportunity to do more, and make a difference. To book Molly Crabapple as a speaker for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency.

First Look: M Train, the New Book by Patti Smith

Legendary musician and Lavin speaker Patti Smith has a new book coming out this fall. The National Book Award-winning author of Just Kids, Smith's forthcoming memoir is M Train: an unforgettable odyssey into her mind, told through the prism of cafés and haunts she has visited and worked in around the world. It will be released on October 6, 2015.

More about M Train:

M Train is a journey through eighteen “stations.” It begins in the tiny Greenwich Village café where Smith goes every morning for black coffee, ruminates on the world as it is and the world as it was, and writes in her notebook. We then travel, through prose that shifts fluidly between dreams and reality, past and present, across a landscape of creative aspirations and inspirations: from Frida Kahlo's Casa Azul in Mexico, to a meeting of an Arctic explorer's society in Berlin; from the ramshackle seaside bungalow in New York's Far Rockaway that Smith buys just before Hurricane Sandy hits, to the graves of Genet, Plath, Rimbaud, and Mishima. Woven throughout are reflections on the writer's craft and on artistic creation, alongside signature memories including her life in Michigan with her husband, guitarist Fred Sonic Smith, whose untimely death was an irremediable loss. For it is loss, as well as the consolation we might salvage from it, that lies at the heart of this exquisitely told memoir, one augmented by stunning black-and-white Polaroids taken by Smith herself. M Train is a meditation on endings and on beginnings: a poetic tour de force by one of the most brilliant multiplatform artists at work today.

Named one of the most influential people in the world in TIME Magazine's TIME 100, Patti Smith is a poet, singer, songwriter, photographer, and fine artist. To inquire about Patti Smith's availability as a keynote speaker, contact The Lavin Agency speakers bureau.

“Beauty is a Reason to Fight”: Journalist-Artist Molly Crabapple on Summer 2014

In a moving new essay for Vice, artist and writer Molly Crabapple reflects on what she calls “a summer of monsters”—a series of difficult and disturbing events that have brought much sadness, and that compel us to seek the beauty in our world.

She writes about Mike Brown and the protests in Ferguson, and the violence against black people that is still ongoing across America. She writes about learning of James Foley's death, the photojournalist who was executed by ISIS. She writes about the conflict in Israel and Palestine, and about her inability to look away. “Writing about others' trauma bears no relation to living it. Yet I was a ruin more and more,” she writes. “We need beauty. But what right did I have, I kept asking myself, in a world so full of hell?” Crabapple has taken her sketchbook from Abu Dhabi to Turkey, Lebanon, and Syria to Guantanamo Bay, observing and making art about the things she sees and people she meets. It is a new, innovative form of journalism-through-art.

We must accept the events of the world, says Crabapple, and recognize that our survival despite them is beautiful. “The world is connected now,” she says. “Where it breaks, we all break. But it is our world, to love as it burns around us. Beauty is survival, not distraction. Beauty is a way of fighting. Beauty is a reason to fight.”

In her talks, Molly Crabapple speaks on the direct ways that making art contributes to political movements—by adding the visceral and immediate power of images to the words and ideas that drive political engagement. And, she helps us recognize the opportunity to do more, and make a difference. To book Molly Crabapple as a speaker for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency.

Keynote Review: Lavin Attends—And Loves!—A Lecture By Director Mira Nair

Last month, award-winning filmmaker Mira Nair gave a keynote speech at the University of Toronto Mississauga—and some of our staff were there to take it all in! Nair was chosen to deliver the school's prestigious annual Snider Lecture.

Here's what Octavia Ridout, one of our events coordinators at the agency, had to say about the event:

“Mira's talk was amazing! She packed the house at U of T's Mississauga campus. She is one fierce lady! She passionately spoke about her work, including her start in documentary filmmaking. She's extremely witty and her talk garnered a LOT of Q&A—which she insisted on extending for a few minutes to allow as many questions to be asked as possible. She was extremely gracious during the reception, allowing photos. She's a super-strong role model for women. The message I took from her talk is to never give up on your dreams, your passions, no matter how much rejection you face.”

Above: Octavia (left) and Mira Nair at the U of T Mississauga keynote event. To book Mira Nair as a keynote speaker for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency.

How To Fight Stereotypes With Comedy: Social Justice Speaker Negin Farsad

“Something we could learn from the gay community's leaps and bounds in civil rights in the last twenty years was just don't hide it, tell people,” Negin Farsad tells NPR. The social justice comic and speaker recently released a documentary film, The Muslims Are Coming!, aimed at doing just that. She and her co-creator Dean Obeidallah toured around the country performing stand-up comedy and organizing events like “Ask a Muslim” and “Hug a Muslim”—catching the results on film. “We really just wanted to chat with people . . . we wanted people to come up to us and ask us questions,” she explains on CBC Radio. What were the results? As NPR writes: “The Muslims Are Coming! leaves its audience with a pretty simple take-away: Muslim Americans are not that different from other Americans. Except maybe . . . funnier.”

The comics in the film represent the diverse picture of what being an American Muslim means; that there is a spectrum. Farsad said Islam can be expressed by followers in many ways. Some comics were very conservative on stage, for example, while Farsad (who considers herself more “culturally Muslim” than others) is on the more outgoing side. That diversity is important to show that you can't paint everyone of the same faith, ethic group, etc., with the same brush. However, Farsad admits that promoting this idea through social justice comedy can have its difficulties. “It's a very fine line between reinforcing stereotypes and turning them on their head,” Farsad tells the CBC. “We want to show people these stereotype exists and this is why they're ridiculous.”

This isn't just a flash in the pan for Farsad, either. Rather, the film is part of a larger social justice project she's completing over time (she was worked in health care reform, offshore banking reform, for Citizens United, and for a host of other social justice causes throughout her career). While the film sparks important public discourse about Islamophobia, it's also a fun film. Mary Hynes, the CBC host, says she laughed throughout the entire thing, for example. Check out the trailer, or, refer to this list to find out when The Muslims Are Coming! is being screened in a city near you.

Negin Farsad uses social justice comedy to address issues with Islamophobia, immigrant rights, bigotry, and any general lameness foisted on people because of race, religion, socio-economic class, sex, gender, etc. She relays what she's learned along the way in hilarious, but informative, keynotes. To book Negin Farsad for an event, contact The Lavin Agency.

Cover Story: (Robert) Vijay Gupta, “The Most Interesting Man in the [Philharmonic]

According to the Los Angeles Downtown News, (Robert) Vijay Gupta is “The Most Interesting Man in the [Philharmonic Orchestra].” And we'll be the first to agree! Not only is he the youngest player in the Los Angeles Philharmonic, but the virtuoso violinist has also become a world renowned advocate for the redemptive and regenerative power of music. The 26-year-old is also a TED Senior Fellow, the director of the Street Symphony organization, and has worked on several prestigious research projects in neuro-and neurodegenerative biology. No wonder the publication put him on the cover of the magazine last month!

“He’s probably one of the most talented people who’s ever auditioned for the Phil,” Daniel Rothmuller, a 42-year Philharmonic veteran, said of Gupta in the magazine article. Gupta has achieved a level of success musically that surpasses that of many with years more experience. But according to Chris Ayzoukian, vice president of production for the Philharmonic, there's another reason he considers Gupta to be such a “unique talent.” He's inspired by his abilities, to be sure, but it's Gupta's commitment to use his talents for social causes that Ayzoukian finds so special. Thanks to his background in medicine and science, and, a chance meeting with a mentally ill musician, Gupta founded the Street Symphony to promote music's ability to change our brains, heal ailments, and ultimately, transform lives.

The Street Symphony performs concerts for the mentally ill, imprisoned, homeless, and the otherwise marginalized members of society. Another important component of each event is the Q&A session Gupta holds after every performance. The magazine reports that it's clear Gupta is in his element while interacting with the crowds; a smile stretches over his face each time a participant raises their hand to ask a question. When asked what he hopes to get from these concerts, Gupta replied that he hoped to meet new people and be a part of their lives. He'll be spending much of the next nine months touring with The Phil; celebrating the 10th anniversary of Walt Disney Concert Hall and performing other concerts around the country. But as comfortable as he is performing for affluent crowds, there will always be a big part of his life dedicated to sharing music with people from other walks of life. Audiences who may not see concerts like this otherwise—and audiences who can benefit from the experience in ways we never thought possible. 

If you're interested in what a performance from Vijay Gupta entails, check out this review: “He didn’t simply play music, which would have been wonderful anyway. He talked about the composers and their lives and he answered questions from the floor. It was truly an interactive experience.”—Georgia Berkovich, who runs the Music With a Mission series, with praise for one of Gupta's events. To book him for a speaking engagment, contact The Lavin Agency Speakers Bureau.

New Keynote: “Let The Heart Inform The Brain,” Speaker Mira Nair

“Never treat what you are doing as a stepping stone to something else. Do it fully and completely.” That's the advice acclaimed filmmaker Mira Nair shared in her recent keynote at the University of Toronto Mississauga. She was chosen to deliver the school's prestigious annual Snider Lecture to a “packed room of students, staff, faculty, and community members” last week. The lecture is a forum for “distinguished speakers [to] give public talks that enrich intellectual and cultural life.” The takeaways in Nair's speeches certainly fit that criteria.

Her keynote opened with a video highlight reel, showcasing some of Nair's work and presenting the powerful cultural themes she addresses in her films. It transitioned into a discussion of her creative life—and lessons learned throughout her career—and concluded with a dynamic question-and-answer session. Nair shared insight on the the craft of filmmaking as well as delving into the issues she tackles in her films. She encouraged the audience to be passionate in what they present to the world in their work because “we have to write and tell our own stories to do justice on screen.” What other advice did she leave with the keynote attendees? “Work purely, without thinking of rewards. Be brave, and be prepared to be lonely. Let the heart inform the brain, and allow inspiration to come from any quarter, whether a carpenter, a street child or the light of the moon.”

A skilled director, Mira Nair is equally adept talking to an audience; she began her career in front of the camera, not behind it. With sophistication, she discusses the craft of filmmaking as well as the issues she so passionately explores in her films: the tug of competing worlds felt by millions of immigrants, and ways to bridge the gap between cultures, races and genders. In the process, Nair shows you how film can challenge stereotypes and generational assumptions. To book one of Hollywood's brightest directors, Mira Nair, to give a keynote speech at your next event, contact The Lavin Agency.

Why 3,000 Meeting Planners Gave Speaker Candy Chang a Standing Ovation

Last month, visual artist Candy Chang received a standing ovation from a group of 3,000 corporate meeting planners in Las Vegas. The audience was incredibly moved by not only the message Chang presented, but the way her words resonated within them. David Lavin, President of The Lavin Agency Speakers Bureau, was in the crowd when Chang delivered her presentation. In a city known for grandiosity, he says Candy Chang was “the next big thing.” Why? “Really, why people were standing wasn't just because of what she said—it was how she made them feel,” Lavin explains. “She made you feel that so much can be done, so much needs to be done, and that you have the power, by doing something small, to create monumental change in your life and your community.” That's the message event planners and meeting planners are looking for when booking speakers.

Earlier this summer, The Wall Street Journal published a piece on trends in the keynote speaking industry. They reported that ideas and life experience are the biggest draws for buyers looking to book a speaker. Planners want to hire a speaker who can bring fresh perspective to their industry while entertaining the crowd. As Lavin said in the article, “It's not just telling someone else to go out and do something. [Speakers] are saying, 'Look what I'm doing. It's pretty cool. What are you doing?'” Candy Chang and Lavin's range of diverse speakers do just that.
To book Candy Chang for your next conference or event, contact The Lavin Agency.

Record Number Of Millennials Still Living At Home: Speaker Derek Thompson

When unemployment rates started to fall, many experts thought young adults stuck in arrested development would finally move out of their parents' homes. Derek Thompson, a speaker on the Millennial generation, says that hasn't been the case. Despite three years of steadily decreasing unemployment, more than a third of Americans between 18 and 31 still live with their parents. And, according to the Current Population Survey, that number is still rising. So what's going on? What's curbing these Millennials' independence? Thompson draws from research in a newly released Pew Research Report to better understand the trend.

Here are the top three reasons Millennials are still living at home, as he cites in The Atlantic:

1) The Economy

“The share of young people living in the basement was basically unchanged for four decades before the recession,” Thompson says. “Then the recession hit, and millions of young people who would have otherwise had jobs didn't.” The connection between a poor economy and living at home is an obvious one. What's interesting, however, is that the number of Millennials living at home before the recession hit was still pretty high. Part of that is thanks to the definition of “home” that Pew uses: College students living in dormitories were lumped in with kids who resided with their parents. That explains why these numbers are rising now, and, why they were high before the recession.

2) Higher Education Levels

The increase in stay-at-home kids was partially linked to a positive trend: An uptick of students pursing post-secondary diplomas.”College enrollment increased significantly during the recession—39% of 18- to 24-year-olds were enrolled in college in 2012, compared with from 35% in 2007,” Thompson says, “and college enrollees are much more likely to be living at home (er, in dorms) than students who skip college, drop out, or finish early.”

3) Declining Marriage Rate

“Unmarried young people are six-times more likely to be living at their parents' place than married couples (understandably),” Thompson reports. When you add the economic crisis into the mix, marriage became even less appealing for young people. Thompson points out that even after leaving home, many Millennials aren't living with a spouse. “Friends and Craigslist strangers have essentially replaced spouses as the de facto first living-partners for American 20-somethings,” he writes in a post about the living habits of Millennials. The number of young adults living at home has risen since 50 years ago, and, the number of adults living with platonic partners has also seen a dramatic increase.

Overall, Thompson says that it's a combination of these three factors that's increasing the age at which Millennials move out. “But the most important takeaway is that, although the Great Recession was nothing but a tragedy, the rise in young people living at home isn't quite as tragic,” Thompson says. “It's partially a reflection of more young people going to school and saving money before starting a family of their own.” Waiting longer to move away from home, he says, might not be as bad an idea as it's being perceived to be.

In his timely keynote speeches, Derek Thompson shows you what these Millennials are looking for out of life, and, how you can help deliver it to them. Forbes recently reported that the Millennial demographic is comprised of roughly 80 million people representing $170B in purchasing power. With a market share that large, you can't afford to not understand the young adult demographic. To book Derek Thompson as a speaker on Millennials, contact The Lavin Agency.

First Look: Preview Of Before I Die, The Book, By Candy Chang

“The Before I Die project was a way for me to make sense of the aftermath [of the death of a loved one],” artist and speaker Candy Chang says in a Huffington Post op-ed. The project—a blank chalkboard with spaces to share your thoughts on what you'd do before you die—has had the same therapeutic impact on hundreds of others, as well. Since the project began in 2011, people in over 24 countries have erected more than 250 walls in 15 different languages. “It's been one of the greatest experiences of my life to see this little experiment in New Orleans grow into a global project,” Chang adds. Now, the public spaces artist is taking the project from the streets to the page; transforming the Before I Die installation into a book due out November 5th.

“304 pages long, the colorful hardcover book features the story of the first wall, walls around the world, personal stories from organizers and people who have written on a wall, insights into our aspirations from city to city and as a whole, and much more,” Chang's website reveals. You can pre-order the book from Amazon, and, check out a sneak peak of Before I Die, the book, below (photos courtesy of CandyChang.com):

“The Before I Die walls are an honest mess of the longing, pain, joy, insecurity, gratitude, fear, and wonder you find in every community,” Chang says. “Seeing other people's feelings have encouraged me to explore my own. I'm grateful to all my neighbors who have helped stir my mind and step back, pause, be quiet, and reflect.”

Praise for Candy Chang's “Before I Die” project:

  • “Through a series of large-scale projects that combine installation art with social activism, Chang has encouraged people to engage with public spaces to let their voices be heard.”—O Magazine

  • “They’re the stuff of everyday life from people of all walks of life . . .Young or old, rich or poor, the [Before I Die] wall does make you think as you walk by.”—NBC’s Rock Center, with Brian Williams

  • “Before I Die is merely one of the most creative community projects ever.”—The Atlantic

Candy Chang is as dynamic a speaker as she is a public spaces artist. To book Candy Chang for your next conference or event, contact The Lavin Agency.

Advice to Students: Patti Smith Talks to Young Artists About Creativity

“A writer, or any artist, can’t expect to be embraced by the people, [but] you just keep doing your work,” Patti Smith tells a captive audience, “because you have to, because it’s your calling.” Smith, who's always candid and ever-influential, shared her advice on life and career at the Louisiana Literature festival at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. Though it's hard to believe now, given her level of success, Smith recalls once publishing poems and recording albums that got limited traction. What's important, she stresses, is to stay motivated. Whether you reach an audience of 50 or 50,000, Smith reminds us that “one does their work for the people, and the more people you can touch, the more wonderful it is.”

You can't achieve the level of influence that Smith has without hitting a few bumps in the road first. She promises the crowd, however, that the struggles we go through are worth it in the end. “To be an artist—actually, to be a human being in these times—it’s all difficult,” she says. “What matters is to know what you want and pursue it.” It won't be easy, because life is never easy, but it's all “part of the package.” She ended off her speech by reminding the crowd that the people have the power. “Technology has really democratized self-expression,” she says; we have the ability to speak our minds, have our message heard, and come together to enact change. Through it all, Smith always goes back to the advice of William S. Burroughs: “Build a good name. Keep your name clean. Don’t make compromises, don’t worry about making a bunch of money or being successful—be concerned with doing good work.” And, perhaps most importantly, don't forget to have some fun along the way.

Patti Smith is a renowned artist, writer, and musician. Her keynotes draw from years of experience in the arts, and the gifted orator shares her unique insight on what it takes to be an artist—and how you can achieve your passions in life. No matter what you strive for in life, Smith encourages you to blaze a path for yourself. A natural storyteller, Smith's keynotes inspire and transform audiences of all ages. To book Patti Smith as a speaker, contact The Lavin Agency.

An Artist’s View Of Guantanamo Bay: Molly Crabapple Visits Cuba

Art speaker Molly Crabapple reminds us that while it has largely disappeared from public discourse, Guantanamo Bay is still very much operational. Crabapple was one of the few artists allowed to enter and document her experiences at the American detention camp. She wrote an essay about her surreal experience at the Cuban-based facility for Vice, accompanied by sketches of her surroundings. Despite being given access to the compound, reporting from Guantanamo is a difficult task.

Here's an excerpt from her article:

“At the KSM hearings, viewers are allowed to bring nothing with them but a notebook, or, in my case, art supplies. I drew the proceedings behind three layers of bulletproof glass. There was a monitor for sound, but it ran on a 40-second delay to allow our minders to censor sensitive information. Security officers had to approve our drawings before we took them from the courtroom, leaving Post-it notes in my sketchbook telling me when I misspelled a name.”

Crabapple also shared an insider's look at the prison with Huffington Post Live. Crabapple says that it's important to get information about the operation of the Guantanamo Bay base to the public. And, that the perspective of an artist gives a new look into the conditions at the institution and to pressing political issues in general. Her drawings present an eye-opening account of an infamous American institution that few will ever see; a portrait that is sure to stick in the minds of many.

Crabapple is a respected and award-winning artist who has documented major political movements both through her writing and her visual art. In her talks, she describes the crucial link between art and politics. She explains that the role of the artist can, and should, extend beyond that of a bystander and that engaging in political movements through art can help spark engagement and really make a difference. To book Molly Crabapple as a speaker for an event, contact The Lavin Agency.

Emerging Adults: Derek Thompson On The Millennial Generation

TIME magazine called them the “ME ME ME Generation.” Forbes said they are changing the world as we know it. What does Derek Thompson, a speaker on Millennials, think about this new generation of 20-somethings? “In the true spirit of Millennial uncertainty, I should probably say that I don't know yet,” the Atlantic editor says, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, in an interview. What he means is that this new generation of “emerging adults” are living in a state of flux between adolescence and adulthood. In fact, he says classifying someone as an adult is not as cut-and-dry as it once was. Since Millennials aren't indulging in traditional markers of adulthood, like buying cars and homes, categorizing them has become extremely difficult. Understanding them is even harder.

“The government seems just as ambivalent as anybody,” Thompson points out. There's a period between the ages of 18 and 26 where society isn't really sure how to classify this group of young people. For example: You can enlist in the military at age 18 but can't drink until you're 21, can get a driver's license at 16 but can't rent a car until 25, and can vote at 18 while still being a dependent on your parents' insurance. It seems that the law-makers aren't even sure when you reach adulthood.

It's true that Millennials are going to school longer, are often unemployed or underemployed, and either live with their parents or rent apartments rather than owning property. All of these signify a delayed entrance into adulthood. But, as Thompson suggests, the recent financial crisis has only strengthened a trend that's been gaining traction for some time. There are new cultural expectations about marriage, home-ownership, and career-building becoming apparent in this new generation. Some people may say they need to grow up—others may say they are growing up. They're just doing it at a different pace and in a different way than ever before.

Forbes recently reported that the Millennial demographic is comprised of roughly 80 million people representing $170B in purchasing power. That's too big of a market share to not understand what makes this demographic tick. In his timely keynote speeches, Derek Thompson shows you what these new young adults are looking for out of life, and, how you can help deliver it to them.

I Wear The Black Hat: Chuck Klosterman’s “Well-Crafted” Take On Villainy

Our constructions of villainy are convoluted, to say the very least. In I Wear The Black Hat, Chuck Klosterman, a noted culture speaker and The New York Times Magazine’s Ethicist, attempts to make sense of how we categorize someone as a villain. If the positive critical reviews are any indication, the author has hit home with his analysis. Klosterman presents an intriguing thesis in the book: A villain is someone who knows the most and cares the least. Understandably, some villains elude this rationale. However, Salon says that the real “pleasure [comes from] kicking [Klosterman's ideas] around.” He “hits more than he misses,” and he's “always interesting.”

The way he tackles a difficult topic so coherently was also praised by other critics. “These unfussy but smart and well-crafted speculative concoctions are another Klosterman trademark,” writes The National Post. “His like-ability is based on the way he can de-clutter and still analyze a complex idea in a very readable way.” His writing is “astute and absorbing,” and he presents his arguments in a “fun and approachable” style. 

In a recent interview, the author and keynote speaker talked to NPR about the role of the vigilante using Batman (the fictional superhero) and Bernhard Goetz (a real man who killed a group of youth because he believed there were going to rob him). This comparison also plays out in his book. Here's what Klosterman had to say:

“Vigilantes are particularly complex scenarios because any sophisticated intellectual person, if you say to them, you know, 'Is vigilante justice good for society?' they will say, 'No.' But when people hear a story about a real vigilante, with very little information — all that they know is that a peaceful person was attacked and responded with force and basically took justice into their own hands because no one was going to help them. In that kind of slightly defined abstraction, people like the idea of a vigilante. It's like Batman. But as soon as that vigilante becomes a real person, as soon as Bernhard Goetz starts saying things about his life and his worldview and we learn details about how he lives and we see what he looks like and we see all these things about him; suddenly then the vigilante becomes very problematic again.”

Drawing Blood: The Forthcoming Illustrated Memoir By Molly Crabapple

HarperCollins has signed on to publish the new Molly Crabapple illustrated memoir, Drawing Blood. Considering the tumultuous and intriguingly eclectic life the artist has lived, it seems like a project that must have been pretty easy to say “yes” to. After all, the arts and pop culture speaker, illustrator, and author did have a seven day stint in a hell. Figuratively, of course. In her Kickstarter-funded art installation—provocatively titled “Molly Crabapple's week in Hell” —she shut herself into a single room and drew until the bare walls were transformed into 270 square feet of art. Oh, and she live-streamed the entire process on the Internet, too.

She also founded Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School at 22; has illustrated for DC Comics; was one of the most prominent illustrators,and arrestees, of the Occupy Movement; is a former pinup model; gives passionate keynotes about making it as an artist on your own terms; and has written for some the world's most recognizable publications with a raw and provocative honesty matched by few of her peers. And that's barely scratching the surface.

In the memoir, Crabapple will provide what's sure to be a candid and bold account of her life. Driven by the ideology of never asking permission, Crabapple is a tour de force in every discipline she tackles. And, through the lens of her most shining accomplishments and fiercest struggles, she will explore the role that art plays in all of our lives.

When hiring a speaker, you often look for someone that is provocative and game-changing, while also relateable to your audience. Crabapple's runaway success is matched only by her ability to resonate with people from all walks of life. She is an advocate for the important part that art plays in our lives, to be sure, but her insight applies to both artists and non-artists alike. Molly Crabapple's keynote presentations act as a requisition to flip convention on its head and forge your own path to success—no matter what industry you're in.

Natural Partners: John Maeda Advocates For Combining Arts & Science

“Artists and scientists tend to approach problems with a similar open-mindedness and inquisitiveness,” John Maeda tells Scientific American, “they both do not fear the unknown, preferring leaps to incremental steps. They make natural partners.” The RISD president and popular design speaker sees the collaboration between artists and scientists as crucial for our future. “There is real value to be gained from collaborations that bridge the best talents we have in both the quantitative and qualitative domains,” he continues. “Artists and designers are the ones who help bring humanity front and center, make us care, and create answers that resonate with our values.”

As he recounts in this article (and his TED Talk) Maeda has seen the value of combining art and science firsthand in his own life. He has both an EECS from MIT and a PhD in classical design from Tsukuba University in Japan. He possesses an aptitude for both science and art. In all of his work, he strives to bridge the gap between the two disciplines; advocating for the collaborative potential that exists when they combine forces. He says that the cross-pollination of ideas between science and arts is extremely valuable in the research sector in particular.

That's why it's key to encourage these partnerships to form early on. “STEAM and arts integration are crucial in K-12 education,” Maeda says, “engaging students in the STEM subjects and ensuring that creativity doesn’t fall by the wayside as we chase innovation.” He fosters these relationships at RISD, and, played a vital role in the creation of The STEAM Caucus in The United States Government. In his popular keynotes, Maeda shows us that art and science have a lot in common. And, that we have a lot to gain by combining forces rather than working alone.

Love, Learn, Listen: My Addition To Candy Chang’s Before I Die Project

The concept of Candy Chang's Before I Die wall seems simple enough: Write out one item from your bucket list on a public chalkboard. While I've written about the project many times, I've never seen one of the walls in person. So when I approached the installation at the Bonnaroo music festival in Tennessee this past weekend, I knew I had to make a contribution. I'm truly glad that I did.

It took nearly 20 minutes to find a piece of chalk. So many people had written out their dreams that almost every piece was reduced to a tiny nub barely big enough to write with. The wall itself was so full that it took some scouting to find a space big enough for my own addition. While I waited for a little piece of chalk to be passed along the line of festival-goers and over to me, there were about a million thoughts racing through my head. First of all, I was thinking about what my own carving should say. At the same time, I was struck by how touching some of the other contributions were. It was then that I realized how powerful a simple blackboard and piece of chalk could be. The wall forced us to think about what we really want out of life. But perhaps more importantly, it allowed us the opportunity to hear what others around us—some we may never meet—dream of as well.

I remember being slightly taken aback that most people didn't cover up the words of others to make room for their own. And even when there was overlap, I couldn't add something without first reading what someone before me had written. It really did bring all of us together in that moment. In Chang's speeches, she talks about the important role that public spaces play in tying together communities and improving our world. After I finished writing on the wall, I really understood what she was talking about. We can learn from personal introspection and the collective wisdom of others. I passed the chalk to the next eager person and walked away. The words I left behind were these: Before I Die I Want To Love, Learn, and Listen.

—Sarah Moore, Marketing Writer

Think Pink: Adam Alter Talks Psychology of Design on CBS

What would prompt someone to paint their walls an obnoxious and unpopular bubble-gum pink? As science speaker Adam Alter explains in an interview with CBS Sunday Morning, a certain shade of vibrant pink (commonly referred to as Drunk Tank Pink) tends to have a calming effect on the people exposed to it. This was discovered by psychologists back in the 1970s. That's why, despite the fact that no one really liked the color, it was all the rage in jail cells and school hallways for a time. “Even to this day, the University of Iowa's Kinnick Stadium still has the visiting locker room painted in bright pink, with porcelain bright pink urinals and lockers,” Alter said in the interview. “The thought was that at half-time or before the game, when the visitors arrived, they would be calmed and weakened by the color.”

The impact that this color has on people is what inspired Alter to write his new book, Drunk Tank Pink: And Other Unexpected Forces That Shape Our Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviors. Alter, an Assistant Professor of Marketing and Psychology at NYU was so intrigued by the relationship between wall color and people's temperament that he dug deeper to explore why exactly that shade of pink had the reaction it did. “Some of the researchers believe that it's biological in origin—that there's something about the way this color interacts with our eyes and with our brains and with our physiology to weaken us,” he explains. “I think another alternative is that it's just based on the association. Perhaps if you're a strong, healthy male, it makes you think of, perhaps, femininity.” (In case you were curious, CBS reports that the University of Iowa's home-game record was 18 wins, 32 losses, 1 tie for the 9 years before the walls were painted Drunk Tank Pink. In the 35 years since the redesign, that record has increased to a whopping 142 wins, 65 losses).

Wall color wasn't the only environmental cue that Alter determined to have some kind of profound effect on our consciousness. In his books and his eye-opening talks, he explains how everything from the name of a stock on the market to the color of your shirt can alter the way you, and others around you, act in certain situations. And, what's more, most of us are completely oblivious to the way these small cues all around us are influencing our lives. Drawing from his extensive research, Alter shows us how to become cognizant of the ways our environment impacts our behavior. And, in doing so, we can then design more productive and healthier spaces for us to live, work, and play.

Disrupting Convention—One Drawing At A Time: Molly Crabapple, In Vice

“We live in the age of the ubiquitous image,” art speaker Molly Crabapple proposes in a telling new piece written for Vice magazine. We are living in a time where photos are being taken around the clock by everyone around us. Many of these images are plastered around the internet and end up circulating through cell phones and emails. Drawings, Molly says, are a welcome contrast to all of that. “Drawing is charmingly ineffectual in comparison,” she writes. “You take photos. Drawings you make. Cameras steal life force. Paintings, like The Picture of Dorian Gray, give you more.” Crabapple, now a successful artist and the founder of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School, began drawing when she was only four years old.

Sketching the people around her acted as a way to survive in the sometimes aggressive world that surrounded her. “Being small and skilled, you learn to create little portals of escapism,” she recalls, “to which the strong are as susceptible as anyone else.” Proving she can tell just as intriguing a story with her words as with her pencil, Crabapple's article documents a life-long journey through the world of art, and the passionate connection she has developed with drawing. Never content to take the traditional route, nor to ask for permission in doing so, Crabapple says there is a “disruptive” quality inherent in sketching that has drawn her to it. “You're producing when you're expected to consume,” she explains in the piece.  Further, art allows you to react and interact with society in a way unlike any other form; it incites a “twin desire” to both “mock power” and “to please,” she says. 

In her personal and inspiring talks, Crabapple shows us what it means to make art, and the power that it can have on the world. Art has a visceral connection with those exposed to it; sometimes positive, sometimes negative. Crabapple recalls the angered confrontation she received from a New York City police man when he saw her sketching him in court, and the hostile reaction of a Moroccan religious fundamentalist who ripped her drawing of him in half, as a testament to the powerful response a sketch can invoke in people. She hasn't only experienced negative reactions, of course. As she concludes in her Vice essay, another man found her ripped up sketch, taped it back together, and returned it to her. Artists do not have to, nor should they, stand on the sidelines. She advocates putting yourself out there and doing things your own way. While some people may react with outrage, others will react with compassion and stand alongside you. And that, Crabapple says, is what gives her the passion to continue her work.

The Economist Praises Director Mira Nair’s “Potent” Storytelling

Mira Nair's “inquisitive nature and social conscience combined with a healthy appetite for storytelling has proved to be a potent mixture on screen,” The Economist writes. Her newest film, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, is “both compelling and unsettling to watch,” the article continues. Coinciding with the recent American release of the film, Mair was interviewed by The Economist on the challenges of adapting her new film from the bestselling book of the same name. She also discussed her unique film-making process, the controversial nature of the film's main theme, and what she wants audiences to take from her work.

The film focuses on the journey of a successful Pakistani immigrant who lives a high-profile life as a New York business analyst. However, a failed love affair, the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and a hostage situation turn the protagonist from a capitalist to a fundamentalist, as he returns to his homeland with bitter feelings toward his second home. Given the political underpinnings of the film, The Economist asked the film speaker what she thought the audience reaction to the film would be. “The film keeps winning the audience awards in festivals in America,” she says, noting that people are responding positively to this alternative view of a highly sensitive issue. “What I am seeing the film do is spark real discussion and debate,” she adds, “and that is the reason I made it; to open windows, to seek to question what is handed to us as truth and to know the defence of the other side.”

She also stresses that she did not make the film to promote a particular political agenda. “We do not preach to the converted or make it reductive because that is what I am railing against,” she explains in the interview, “the sort of simplistic reductiveness of how the world sees each other.” This is a central theme that sweeps through many of Nair's films—a focus on the tug of competing worlds felt by numerous immigrants who come to other countries in hopes of a better life. Further, she presents compelling material that serves as a jumping off point to bridge the gaps between cultures, races, and genders, and to dispel common stereotypes through exploration of these issues. In her talks, she expands on these topics and presents a compelling discussion of the pressing issues addressed in her films.

5 Lessons On Filmmaking From Reluctant Fundamentalist Director Mira Nair

Timed to coincide with the American release of her newest film, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Mira Nair shared the lessons she's learned from 30 years in the film business in a new keynote. As part of the “Tribecca Talks” series, in conjunction with the Tribecca Film Festival in New York, Nair discussed her unique insight on the art of filmmaking. She also touched on some of the powerful themes presented in her film. The Reluctant Fundamentalist is being screened at the festival this week and will then move into wide release across the country this Friday. In her films, and her keynotes, Nair attempts to bridge gaps between cultures, races, and genders to challenge societal stereotypes.

Here are the five major takeaways from Nair's speech:

1) Take small steps to make a difference with your work: While Nair says there are numerous female filmmakers working in India, the Western film industry is less inclusive. That's why she said she avoided producing her films through traditional means and has taken on a largely female crew. “The trouble is, we only think there’s one way. But there isn’t,” she says in her speech. “There are many other ways. But they’re damned difficult.” You need to take whatever opportunity you can to make a difference and challenge these stereotypes, she says, in spite of the difficult opposition.

2) Have faith in your work even in the face of uncertainty: “You pursue something without even knowing that you have any fruit at the end of it, or an audience,” she told the audience. Then one day, things all fall into place and you are “humbled” by the “powerful response” of those who have been impacted by your work.

3) Focus your efforts: Nair says it is important not to spread yourself too thin. She recounts a story of being a young girl struggling to balance learning the sitar with film-making. She eventually chose to channel her energy into one passion, and has seen incredible success as a result.

4) Take a step back once you've completed a project: While she will often go see her film on opening night, Nair says she then removes herself from critiques and reviews for a while afterward. That way you can gain some perspective and relish in your accomplishment—rather than getting caught up in how other people are reacting to what you've completed.

5) Place value in friendships and distance yourself from negativity: “I don’t thrive on tension, I don’t thrive on division,” she says. “I understand, as I get older, you can choose not to be with the disharmonious.”

Artist vs. Establishment: How Molly Crabapple Fought Convention—And Won

Molly Crabapple, a reviewer writes in The New Republic, “represents an alternative to the mechanism through which many young artists today find success.” And, the article continues, “[Crabapple] is an emblem of the way that art could break out of the gilded gallery.” The way the art speaker and activist funded her newest project, Shell Game, perfectly embodies the reviewer's description of her career path. Instead of pursuing more traditional means of funding and distribution, Crabapple turned to Kickstarter. She raised $64,000 on the crowd-funding website to finance her illustrated take on the financial crisis and the Occupy Movement. While her project is indeed being showcased in a gallery setting, Shell Game retains the disruptive, take-no-prisoners style that Crabapple is known for.

The pieces in her collection are what MSNBC talk show host Chris Hayes calls “exuberant altarpieces for the revolution.” Crabapple herself describes her work, and that of others working during the Occupy Movement's heyday, as, “art out of the gallery and into the streets, into life. I hope it presented an alternative, a good strong alternative to detached, ironic uber-expensive art whose primary purpose is to fill up an oligarch's loft.” Crabapple largely opposes the way that art has become a discipline which seems to require an expensive post-secondary degree and connections to established art dealers. While she has respect for those who have pursued higher education in the arts, Crabapple argues that you don't need an MFA to be successful. You can also carve your own path as a working and profitable artist—in much the same way that she took responsibility for both the creative and business side of her own career.

In her keynote speeches, she encourages others to blaze their own trail. She shares her own experiences to show audiences how they can use their art to make a statement and speak out about things they want to change in the world. She also teaches us that the art world is changing and that being successful means making things happen for yourself. Don't wait for someone to open a door for you that you could easily open for yourself, she says, and, perhaps most importantly, never ask for permission when it comes to achieving your goals.

Talent Alone Won’t Make You A Successful Artist: Molly Crabapple In Fast Co.

“There’s this idea that it’s great to be a poor artist,” art speaker Molly Crabapple scoffs in a new article in Fast Company. “It’s bullshit.” Crabapple is an artist, keynote speaker, entrepreneur, activist, and founder of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School. While it took a lot of work to get where she is today—and she hasn't taken it easy after making a name for herself, either—Crabapple is no longer living the life of the so-called starving artist. This is a testament not only to her undeniable talent, but to her keen business sense and eye for financial opportunity. Crabapple's newest project, Shell Game, is what she describes as a “love letter” to the global financial meltdown. One of the pieces was inspired by a Matt Taibbi article on Goldman Sachs. The exhibit is set to open this month in New York.

It's important to remember that talent doesn't always correlate directly to financial success. There's often much more to the equation than just being good at what you do. Letting people believe that success in the art world is based solely on talent is a “really damaging lie to feed people,” she says, because it implies those who aren't making money aren't talented. Here is some advice she gives struggling artists (which she also discusses in her keynotes) on how to translate their talents into a paycheck:

1) Be opportunistic: Seize every opportunity that you can, and always keep an eye out for new ways to sell your art. “I’ve always looked at the world looking for blank spaces that could have a drawing on them,” she says, “and then thought that drawing should be mine,”

2) Form bonds: “Build friendships with people that you respect in a variety of fields,” she tells Fast Company. “My friendships with journalists and activists and performers have been some of the most fruitful, creatively inspiring, and just personally nourishing things that I have.”

3) Be skeptical of authority: “The powers that be have, in general, no interest in helping people,” she says. “When you’re dealing with power, you have to look out for yourself rather than pleasing them, because to power, you’re only a functional cog.”

4) Get ready to suffer: “Being a working artist isn’t scalable,” she says in the interview. “It’s not something where you can offer an easy, three-step 'follow this program and fame, and riches will be yours.' It’s actually this incredibly hard, bloody path that takes tons of luck, tons of randomness, and tons of toughness to get through.”

People Have the Power: A Review of Patti Smith at the AGO [PHOTOS]

Last week, Patti Smith performed an amazing show at The Art Gallery of Ontario, where her Camera Solo exhibit is on display—and some lucky Lavin staffers were there! Here’s our review. The punk legend sang a quiet but powerful set of songs to an audience who punctuated the night with shouts of devotion, gratitude, and, at times, crazed joy. Patti played “in the round,” fans on all sides of her, standing under a Frank Gehry-designed staircase that jutted out from the wall, like extruded wooden Play-Doh. Performing with her daughter Jesse (on piano) and Tony Shanahan (on acoustic guitar), she dedicated songs to Neil Young, Fred “Sonic” Smith, and Roberto Bolano—whose posthumous book, 2666, she deemed “the first masterpiece of the 21st century.” (She also name-dropped the new My Bloody Valentine album!) For the evening’s final number, Patti Smith stepped away from the mic. Walking around the stage, she listened as the crowd sang back the chorus to one of her best loved songs: “People have the POWER!” All in all, a wonderful night!

Here are some photos from Patti Smith’s performance at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), taken exclusively for Lavin by Paul Terefenko:

Standing Out As An Illustrator: Molly Crabapple In A New PBS Doc [VIDEO]

It's not enough to be able to draw beautiful, competent illustrations anymore. As Molly Crabapple explains in a new PBS documentary, the people who succeed as illustrators are the people who also know how to brand themselves. They're not only good artists, but genuinely interesting people with a unique viewpoint that shines through in their work. A lot of Crabapple's work is inspired by the New York burlesque scene, the Victorian Era, and the work of activists and journalists. That doesn't mean that she never steps outside of her brand, however. Crabapple, in fact, is known for her disruptive attitude about the art world and her ability to shake things up in new and exciting ways. In fact, you could even argue that the fact that she doesn't follow the heard is her brand.

Making a name for yourself is crucial, she says, as it's becoming more and more competitive to get a job as an illustrator. When Crabapple was given the role as one of the main poster artists for the Occupy Wall Street movement, for example, she redefined traditional notions of activist art. As she says in the documentary, people often think of activist art as being red, black, and adorned with Soviet symbols. Crabapple wanted to do something different. “Activism wasn't just something for a certain type of predefined person,” she argues in the film, “but rather was something we should all be interested in.” That's why her posters didn't follow a predetermined color scheme or aesthetic, which made the movement more accessible to the public.

Crabapple is well-known for blazing her own trails and making a name for herself on her own terms. When she was only 22, she founded Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School, and has since been involved in numerous innovative projects. In her talks, she provides practical real world advice for those looking to make a career out of their love of art. Her lessons expand beyond simple career advice, however. She encourages audiences to take chances in all aspects of their lives—and to never ask for permission to achieve your goals.

I’m Matt Taibbi, Ask Me Anything: The Rolling Stone Writer Storms Reddit

“This AMA thing is wild…thanks for being here,” Matt Taibbi typed to a drove of eager Redditers this week. The third Lavin speaker to turn to the online social media community in recent months (Reza Aslan and Andrew Coyne have done Ask Me Anything events as well), Taibbi logged on to his computer to earnestly answer as many questions as possible. Perhaps most well-known for his biting articles in Rolling Stone, Taibbi's question and answer session ran the gamut of topics ranging from his time writing in Russia to the current political and economic climate. As honest as it was intelligent, Taibbi's AMA elicited an intriguing discussion about the most pressing issues of the day. And, in typical Taibbi style, he didn't shy away from anything.

When asked if he considered himself to be cynical (given that most of his writing is critical of major institutions) he replied that he thinks he is the exact opposite. “A cynic is someone who recognizes that nothing changes,” he explained. Taibbi, however, continues to critique those in power because he thinks that change is possible. And to him, writing about it all keeps him motivated. He also set the record straight on why he writes about the topics of corruption, government and Wall Street. He is not, as people might think, an activist. While he admits that a lot of his subject matter does “outrage [his] social conscience,” his primary inspiration is a literary one. Corruption is dark and complex—which makes for great fodder for a gifted writer like him.

Regarded for his colorful and bold foray into the antics of the world's biggest power-players, Taibbi's Reddit audience prefaced each question with their respect for his work. His book, Griftopia, has been critically hailed and his Rolling Stone articles have won him the National Magazine Award. In his talks, he expands on the topics covered in his writing—giving audiences a mix of pressing current events and intriguing solutions for getting us out of the mess our leaders have created.

Mira Nair: “The Power Of Cinema Is That Everything & Everyone’s Important”

With numerous international awards and an Oscar nod under her belt, it would be easy for Mira Nair to take all the credit for the success of her films. However, the formidable director says that it takes an army to make a good film—and everyone's role in the process attributes to the final product. “The power of cinema is that everything is important, everything is democratic,” she explains in a recent interview about the way she runs her film sets. She likes her crew to operate like a family that works together and values everyone—from the extras to the stars.

She says that she often takes part in group activities like yoga before a call time and invites everyone to join in to create a sense of camaraderie between the people working on set. When each person feels like they are contributing, and that their contributions are appreciated, it makes for a better film. In her keynotes, Nair often discusses the art of film-making and the importance of having a solid crew to help bring your vision to life. Her projects tackle important issues of identity and bridges the gap between different cultures. As talented in front of an audience as she is behind a camera, Nair teaches us how film can combat stereotypes. It is a medium capable of bringing diverse groups of people together—both on and off the screen.

Making It In The Arts: Molly Crabapple On Being Your Own Boss [VIDEO]

“Everything in the world is conspiring to try to force people into this mold where they work for other people until their life energy's exhausted,” Molly Crabapple says. “You have to try to resist that.” In an exclusive interview at Lavin's New York office, Crabapple shared her thoughts on how to stay motivated to lead an interesting life. The best way to motivate yourself, she says, is to remember that you only have one life—and you should spend it living out your dreams.

To Crabapple, an interesting life is one where you “[live] to the full extent of your passions, [are] engaged with your community and [make] the world better.” However, many people feel pressured to fit into a mold where they work for someone else who profits off their work until they retire or run out of inspiration. She says that this acts as the best motivation of all, because we should feel driven to make the most of our creativity and branch out on our own. Do things on your own terms, and live a life where you feel inspired and challenged every day.

This type of disruptive thinking is what Crabapple is best known for. The artist consistently pushes boundaries in her art, and, in the way she profits from that art. She lives by the credo of never asking for permission, and advocates for making your dreams a reality—on your own, and on your own terms. She hopes to make the old model a thing of the past, and urges her keynote audiences and students at Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School (which she founded at age 22) to create a life of their own design.

Bring Art To The Masses: How Molly Crabapple Redefined Success [VIDEO]

The way an artist becomes successful financially is much different than creatives in other mediums. Molly Crabapple shed some light on this important difference in a recent interview at Lavin. Traditionally, artists make more money when their pieces becomes more valuable and cost more. Therefore, less people are able to purchase their work and the acclaim of the artist rises; unlike in other creative industries where the become more successful an artist gets, the more accessible their product becomes. Crabapple disagrees with this model. “I felt there was something wrong with a field where extreme success is defined as only having a few Russian Oligarchs get to purchase your things,” she says.

So, she decided to flip the gallery model on its head and redefine the way an artist sells their work. She started funding sprawling, labor-intensive projects by selling peripheral pieces as well her main works. All of her inspiration, doodles, and preliminary work would also be a part of the show—and it was all for sale. Instead of only being able to purchase the expensive showpiece, the average art lover was also able to buy part of the collection. Thus, the work was more accessible to her fans and everyone who wanted to own a piece of art for themselves could walk away with a Crabapple original.

Crabapple is known for being a disruptive force in the art scene. Wildly creative, but also business-wise, she started her own alternative drawing school (Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School) at 22. She has also worked on innovative projects such as My Week In Hell, where she turned to the Internet to help her fund a venture where she turned a hotel room into an art installation. She raised the money for the project through crowd-funding and live streamed the entire creative process to everyone in cyberspace. In her keynotes, she speaks to these out-of-the-box ideas and the need to do redefine the artist. Her work speaks for itself, but her rebellious and bold work ethic has helped take her career to new heights—and helped change opinions on what it means to be successful in the creative sphere.

Molly Crabapple: Take Control Of Your Own Life To Succeed In The Art World

“I believe in following your dreams, being incredibly passionate, and being ruthlessly practical about what it takes to get there,” Molly Crabapple says in an exclusive Lavin interview. Crabapple is the founder of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School, an artist, and a writer. In the interview, she shares her advice on how to make it in the cutthroat art world based on her own personal experiences doing just that. “It is absolutely possible to make a living on your passion,” she explains, but you can only do so if you are willing to forgo traditional models of achieving that goal.

“You can no longer depend on the larger institutions to shape your future,” she adds. While many creative people are told to simply “visualize their dreams” in order reach their goals, or to be content to forgo the business side of things because their art will speak for itself—Crabapple disagrees. She advises burgeoning creative types to “take control of their own lives” and put themselves out there in innovative and disruptive ways because there are few large institutions out there that will do it for you. The artist of the future, she argues, will be passionate in what they do—and rely on themselves alone to achieve success.

Known for her disruptive projects, Crabapple's work runs the gamut from a live event where she transformed a hotel room into an art piece in front of a live Internet audience, to articles she contributed to CNN and Vice magazine about the Spanish general strike and Occupy Wall Street. Her work is innovative and highly regarded, and she often speaks to audiences about the importance of striking out on your own, never asking permission, and following your passions.

My Week In Hell: How Molly Crabapple Disrupted The Art World [VIDEO]

“'Week in hell' was my attempt to break artistic cliches,” new exclusive Lavin speaker Molly Crabapple told the audience at the Cusp conference. Called “THE artist of our time” by comedian Margaret Cho, Crabapple is known for breaking boundaries and has turned the art world on its head—something she did, to great success, with her “My Week In Hell” project. As she tells the audience in her talk, there was a time in her life—before she turned 28, to be exact—when she felt like she was “sick of herself”. Though she was accomplished in the illustration world and had drawn for some big-name comic book companies, she wanted more out of her life—and her art.

She decided that she wanted to lock herself in a room and draw; “draw so much, and so long, and so hard, and so intensely, that [she] saw what [her] actual aesthetic was,” she says. What she grappled with, however, was exactly how to do that, and how to get the money to make it a reality. Crabapple tells the crowd that her friend, comic book writer Warren Ellis, advised her not to “wait for other people's permission” to start something big. “Just rent a hotel room,” he told her. “Cover it in paper. Fill the paper with art. Livestream it. You have your project.” So she did just that—transforming a hotel room into 270 square feet of art while the entire Internet watched her live from their computers. She ended up raising $25,000 and, it's safe to say, broke out of her late-twenties slump.

On the stage, Crabapple urges her audiences to take hold of their dreams and make them a reality. Holding true to the advice she was given to not ask permission, she tells her students at the Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School—which she founded at age 22—to take risks and disrupt the scene around them. She is the author of Discordia (with Laurie Penny), the forthcoming Straw House, and Week in Hell. In her books and her talks, she asks us to question what it means to make art, and how public spaces can be utilized for our own artistic explorations.

Before I Die: Candy Chang’s Project Recreated In Denver [VIDEO]

What do you want to do before you die? It's a question that TED Fellow Candy Chang has brilliantly brought to life in her interactive “Before I Die” installation. The project was so popular, in fact, that people across the nation have been recreating it—most recently, in Denver, Colorado. The team who brought the installation to Colorado even filmed the process to document how the project brings community members together in a unique and deeply personal way. Making communities more comfortable and bringing citizens together is something that Chang aims to do not just in this project, but in all of her work.

“Before I Die”, which started on the wall of an abandoned building in Chang's old neighborhood, is a giant chalkboard where passersby write down their hopes, dreams, and fears and read those of others. Chang's work focuses on the way that public spaces have the potential to unite communities when utilized the right way. Using simple, everyday objects, Chang provides low-cost, high-value design projects that enliven neighborhoods. Drawing from her design work, her powerful talks explore the introspective quality that can be harnessed in a positive and meaningful way when civic planning is done correctly. She asks us to imagine what we are capable of accomplishing if we can continually harness the power of our collective wisdom—and stresses the importance of collaboration in the places we live.

The Ethicist: Some of Our Favorite NYT Pieces By Chuck Klosterman

Sometimes we can all use a little moral guidance. And that is exactly what Chuck Klosterman, author of the bestselling books Killing Yourself to Live, Fargo Rock City, and The Visible Man, provides in his New York Times column, The Ethicist. As one of the wittiest and most compelling cultural analysts of our generation, Klosterman has an intimate and in-depth relationship with society and how it functions. In The Ethicist, he responds to questions involving personal moral judgments and provides snippets of advice on how to solve readers' most troubling ethical quandaries.

Here are some of our favorites so far:

A Tidy Sum” – When traveling, it can be easy to forget how different the place we are visiting is from our homeland. In this piece, a reader asks Klosterman if he thinks it is fair to accept $3.50 as a fair wage to pay a cleaning lady in Mombasa, Kenya. “Is it ethical to accept an extreme bargain that’s solely a product of cultural disparity?” Klosterman asks. When dealing with services, such as having someone clean your apartment, you can extrapolate what you would expect to be paid for that job, Klosterman says. To someone living in North America, this may seem like a very unfair wage, but for someone in Kenya, it may be standard. Klosterman's suggestion? Since the reader was worried about disrupting the terms set out by the cleaning lady, give her a large tip to compensate if you don't feel comfortable paying her $3.50.

Music Appreciation Should someone who earns a formidable living be allowed to collect money for playing an instrument in public spaces? Klosterman's reply to this question is that the man playing is providing a service that he deems to have value, and thus, should be allowed to take home the money he earns while playing. The person writing in claims that a professional has no business taking money away from other performers who are less well off and need the money more. To this, Klosterman asks whether the drummer of Metallica should be giving out free tickets to his concert because the audience makes less money than he does. “I suppose you could make the case that [he] should,” he writes. “But it wouldn’t be a very good one.”

The Grape Thief Is eating a grape out of a bunch before you pay for the rest of the grapes stealing? Yes, Klosterman replies, because you didn't pay for it. However, the price of one grape really doesn't impede on the livelihood of anyone else, he notes. While he says that this part of the question is somewhat inconsequential (as the answer is relatively obvious), he does goes on to give an interesting explanation of what stealing really is, and how our lives would be much different if there were no laws to impede theft. “Though I’m not sure if we’re ethically obligated to make the lives of others better, we are ethically obligated not to make the lives of others worse,” Klosterman writes, “and that’s what stealing does: it makes it impossible for other people to pursue their own happiness.”