From Hailey Bieber To Meg Thee Stallion’s Nail Artist: Meet The Forbes 30 Under 30 2023 In Art And Style
These thirty creatives are changing the way we see the world—one stitch, NFT, portrait, TikTok and manicure at a time.
By Isabel Lord with additional reporting by Cassell Ferere and Allyson Portee
Hailey Bieber knows a thing or two about face value: A classically trained ballet dancer, she signed a modeling deal with French Connection when she was 17 and went on to ink endorsements with Jimmy Choo, Levi’s and Saint Laurent. Over the years, the influencer—and wife of Justin—grew a 60 million-strong social media following, largely thanks to her personal style and a trend-setting beauty routine that made her skin look like a “glazed donut.”
In 2022, she decided to cash in. She launched Rhode, a skincare line that taps into the dewy look she became known for with products like a $29 peptide glazing fluid, which has grown a 700,000-name waitlist since it launched in June. For Bieber, 26, the transition from model to mogul was liberating: “I’ve lent my name and my face to other people’s creative process,” she says. “It helped me develop mine, and it’s very empowering to be the one in charge.”
She’s not alone. Many of the 29 other Forbes Under 30 Art & Style honorees this year left dream jobs to strike out on their own—to resounding success. They each received top marks from leaders in their fields: This year’s judges were Aimee Song, who lay the foundation for today’s influencers with her fashion blog Song of Style in 2008; artist Daniel Arsham, whose apocalyptic style spans sculpture, architecture and design; Emily Bode, a CFDA-awarded menswear designer and alum of the Under 30 Class of 2019; and model-turned-art-advisor Nicola Vassell, who helped build everything from the collection of Alicia Keys to, in 2021, her own New York gallery.
One example of a list-maker unafraid to take the plunge: Emily Oberg, 28, who started working in fashion at a young age instead of attending college. Four years ago, she left her role as a creative director at cult streetwear retailer Kith to focus on a clothing brand of her own, Sporty & Rich. The risk paid off: Today, the influencer-loved athleisure label—which has collaborated with household names like Prince Tennis and Adidas—is valued at $50 million. Another: Michelle Nguyen, a.k.a Coca Michelle, started working as a freelance manicurist eight years ago; today, she’s Megan Thee Stallion’s key nail artist, perfecting her handiwork from the Traumazine tour to, coincidentally, the cover of Forbes: Nguyen, 26, did Meg’s nails for this Under 30 issue.
Online, Jacob Horne, 29, is a virtual success story, as he left a career at Coinbase to cofound his NFT startup Zora in 2020. In May, they led a $50 million funding round that valued the company at $600 million. Outside of the metaverse, Wisdom Kaye set aside his electrical engineering degree to sign with IMG in 2020—just months after posting his first style videos to social media—and is ushering in a new era for menswear, with some help from his 11 million followers. “I strive to not merely push the boundaries of men’s fashion,” says Kaye, 21, “but change what it means completely for the everyday person, regardless of gender.”
Many more list-makers are paving the way for those who come next. Harlem-based photographer-to-the-stars Flo Ngala, 27, made history this year as the first Black woman hired by Vogue to shoot its biggest night of the year: The Met Gala. Malian-Canadian curator Hannah Traore, 27, opened her eponymous gallery in New York’s Lower East Side to give a platform to artists who don’t usually get one, to “create space for the kinds of artists and community that I wanted to see and experience, yet couldn’t find in other galleries.” Two-time brain tumor survivor Tré Seals, 29, has been writing a future for himself since middle school, when he sold graffiti-style name tags to his classmates. Today, his diversity-driven type foundry memorializes historical events like the Memphis Sanitation Strike and can be found from Black Lives Matter murals to Amazon Labor Union posters.
These are just a handful of the trailblazers recognized in this year’s 30 Under 30: Art & Style list, which was edited by Isabel Lord, Cassell Ferere and Allyson Portee. For a link to the complete Art & Style list, click here, and for full Under 30 coverage, click here.