Light beams with unusual forms of wavefront offer a host of useful features to extend the repertoire of those developing new optical techniques. Complex, non-uniform wavefront structures offer a wide range of optomechanical applications, from microparticle rotation, traction and sorting, through to contactless microfluidic motors. Beams combining transverse nodal structures with orbital angular momentum, or vector beams with novel polarization profiles, also present new opportunities for imaging and the optical transmission of information, including quantum entanglement effects. Whilst there are numerous well-proven methods for generating light with complex wave-forms, most current methods work on the basis of modifying a conventional Hermite-Gaussian beam, by passage through suitably tailored optical elements. It has generally been considered impossible to directly generate wave-front structured beams either by spontaneous or stimulated emission from individual atoms, ions or molecules. However, newly emerged principles have shown that emitter arrays, cast in an appropriately specified geometry, can overcome the obstacles: one possibility is a construct based on the electronic excitation of nanofabricated circular arrays. Recent experimental work has extended this concept to a phase-imprinted ring of apertures holographically encoded in a diffractive mask, generated by a programmed spatial light modulator. These latest advances are potentially paving the way for creating new sources of structured light.