Dan Eldon was born in London, England in 1970. At the age of seven, a family move to Nairobi, Kenya ignited a lifelong fascination with the land and the people of Africa. Accompanying his journalist mother on her interviews, he observed the power of media to inform and inspire.  His father’s work with local community leaders taught him how to transform ideas into action, sparking him to seek creative solutions to the challenges he saw in the world around him. 
At 14, Dan launched a campaign that mobilized his friends to raise funds for a young Kenyan to have an essential heart operation. A year later, he helped a Masai mother raise school fees for her seven children by selling her beaded jewelry. When he was 19, Dan led a group of teens on a rollicking safari across four countries in Africa to bring aid to a refugee camp in Malawi. After the trip, Dan combined his passion for art, adventure and activism into a personal philosophy that he called, “Safari as a Way of Life.” 

Dan honed his artistic skills working as a paid intern for Glamour Magazine in New York, and studied photography while dropping in and out of four colleges, learning just enough to equip him for the next adventure. Although Dan explored more than 40 countries, he was always drawn back to Africa. It was this love that would eventually lead to his death.

Traveling with a young journalist friend, Dan was the first to document a devastating famine that was claiming the lives of thousands of Somalis. The photos, shared with the world through Reuters, awakened the world, and led to Operation Restore Hope, which brought much-needed aid to millions. In 1992, instead of returning to UCLA, where he was to study film, Dan, 21, remained in Somalia to document the delivery of aid, and the subsequent terrifying spiral of the country in civil war.

On July 12th, 1993, Dan, one of the youngest Reuters photojournalists ever, along with three colleagues, was stoned and beaten to death while covering the tragic conflict in Mogadishu. At 22, Dan Eldon’s safari came to a sudden end. However he left behind seventeen black-bound journals filled with drawings, writings and photographs…vivid collages that chronicle a child’s journey into manhood and a lifelong struggle with the forces of good and evil.

While Dan’s photos are works of journalism, his journals are works of art, a celebration of adventure and a testament of desire to live life to its fullest.  Now, through his art, sense of adventure and creative activism, his journey continues.  And if the journey truly is the destination, then Dan Eldon has certainly arrived.

The Mayor of Mogadishu

Dan’s Legacy 

The publication in 1997 of a collection of Eldon’s journal pages entitled, “The Journey is the Destination,” ignited the interest of graphic designers, artists, filmmakers, activists and adventurers globally. Since his death, four books, three documentaries and a feature film about his life have touched the lives of millions globally. Blake Mycoskie credits Dan as the inspiration for Toms Shoes. Invisible Children founder, Jason Russell, attributes his activism as the spark for the youth organization. Art and photography instructors  use Eldon’s books to open their students’ eyes to the world around them, and encourage them, like Eldon, to chronicle their lives and believe in their power to change the world around them. 

Kathy Eldon + Blake Mycoskie
The Journey is the Destination Trailer

Journalism students view Dying to tell the Story, an Emmy-nominated film produced by Dan’s mother and sister to learn about what motivates journalists to do what they do – and what their job does to them. Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Kweku Mandela, produced The Journey is the Destination, a feature film about Dan’s life directed by Bronwen Hughes.

Dan’s art has been featured in newspapers and magazines internationally, and has been the subject of countless exhibits, including events opened by news anchors Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw and three presidents. Major galleries around the world have exhibited his work, which was the focus of the Candela Decker Gallery in New York. Dan’s prints are in many prestigious private collections, including those of Diana Rockefeller, Bruce Weber, Madonna, Julia Roberts, Chirstiane Amanpour and Rosie O’Donnell. 
Dan Eldon’s Journals

The Dan Eldon estate will release a series of NFT’s in 2022, with profits going to Creative Visions Foundation, a non-profit organization that celebrates creative activists like Dan. Creative Visions has touched the lives of more than 100 million people since it was founded in 1998 by Dan’s mother, Kathy and his sister, Amy.

Dan’s father, Mike Eldon, launched the Dan Eldon Place of Tomorrow shortly after Dan’s death. The DEPOT has been a powerful force for good in Kenya and across Africa, led by Mike, who has taught individuals how to collaborate and co-create to ensure the best and most equitable outcome for all.

Dan Eldon: The Artist

Aran Cravey, Fine Art Consultant

In the pages that fill the bulging journals, Eldon reveals imagistic insight into his extraordinary perspective on the world. Filled with snapshots of his life growing up as a young expatriate in Kenya, explosive images taken in war-torn Somalia and detailed drawings of the world around him, the journal works blend the photographic reality with the transient ephemera of his everyday to create a vivid blueprint of Eldon’s imagination.

The works’ multi-layered complexity recalls the photo collages of early 20th century artists such as Hannah Höch and John Heartfield. While both tell of worlds submerged in chaos, Eldon’s works seek to find equilibrium within the madness.  From page to page, Eldon’s style and rhythm shift and evolve, reflecting his exploration of the world and his place within it.

The ingenuous, raw paintings and multi-layered sub-textual arrangements could be said to evoke the spirit of Basquiat and contextual complexity of Rauschenberg. But Eldon’s own Caulfieldesque disdain for affected pretense countermands any such canonical comparisons.

While the aesthetic beauty and sophisticated lexicon of the journal pages elevate the works to a reverential artistic level, the artist’s eye never strays far from its place of unrelenting sincerity, reminding the viewer of Eldon’s uncanny ability to capture the present moment.

Dan Eldon’s legacy continues to grow through his words and images, inspiring others to realize their dreams through his spirit of “creative activism.”  

Alicia Dougherty is the collection’s curator.

For further inquiries, please contact alicia.dougherty@creativevisions.org

Creative Visions Foundation
Dan Eldon Center for Creative Activism
18820 Topanga Beach Drive
Malibu, CA 90265