Kevin Van Aelst
For this issue's Now  section, artist Kevin Van Aelst created a fictitious holiday world to spell out the words "December & January." He arranged bits of a broken champagne flute in the spot where he once dropped a glass and hung a wreath on the same nail he'll use for his own this winter. "Much of my time is spent either shuffling things around on the floor or out scavenging for just the right sorts of minutiae," he says. "You have no idea how hard it is to find candy canes in October."
Mary Lisa Gavenas
Mary Lisa Gavenas went from covering crime and politics for daily newspapers to writing about perfume and lipstick for national glossies. A former senior editor at Glamour, Mirabella, and InStyle, Gavenas is also the author of Color Stories: Behind the Scenes in America's Billion-Dollar Beauty Industry. She heads back to the beauty beat in this month's Fast Talk  on ingestible cosmetics.
Asked about her favorite assignments, writer Carolina Miranda recalls "an afternoon hanging out in John Lautner's spaceship-style Elrod House, which was used as a bad guy's lair in a James Bond flick" and trespassing in Florida to see Paul Rudolph's early Modernist work. For Fast Company, she returned to her hometown of L.A. to assess the influence of new leaders  -- one from Japan, one from China -- on its architecture schools.
"I'd shot John Chambers before, probably 15 years ago, but we couldn't for the life of us remember what for," says photographer Nigel Parry of his cover subject  for this issue. The Cisco CEO, he says, "wasn't a stiff bank suit at all." Parry's memory may be spotty, but his credentials are solid: He has photographed everyone from Barack Obama to Angelina Jolie for covers at Time, Esquire, and Vanity Fair.
When she's not chasing presidential candidates past or present, or leaping social networks in a single bound, senior writer Ellen McGirt settles in at her desk at Fast Company, where she covers the intersection of business and inspiration. She visits that intersection twice this month, in stories about Enterprise Community Partners ' application of market principles to its social mission, and Cisco's venture into collectivism under John Chambers.
Reporting on the solar-energy boom  took Chris Turner from Silicon Valley to Germany to Australia. "There wasn't one company or figure that could be properly profiled as the single, perfect example -- it was a whole wave of activity everywhere," says the Canadian journalist. "So I started poking around everywhere I went." Turner's book, The Geography of Hope, is a nominee for a Governor General's Literary Award.