Young Guns 17: Julien Hébert
By Brett McKenzie on Nov 04, 2019
Shining a light on the amazing class of Young Guns 17
What happens when you take a jury of 60+ respected creatives, more than 500 entries from all over the globe, and mix them all together for two months of serious consideration, debate and decision-making? Eventually you get the winners of Young Guns 17! This year, The One Club for Creativity is honoring a creatively diverse class of 28 winners, including animators, designers, photographers, illustrators, film directors and editors, all of whom came out of this process as true champions of their craft.
Ahead of the Young Guns 17 Ceremony + Party taking place on November 20, we are featuring the various superstars who will be taking the stage that evening.
Félicitations! When did you first hear about this crazy, little global competition called Young Guns?
When I presented my end-of-studies school project back in 2014, Daniel Robitaille (YG10) was part of the jury, and he introduced me to the competition. Year after year, I saw great designers go on to win Young Guns. Let's just say that this has been a goal of mine for quite a while.
And yet this was your first time entering. What made you wait so long to finally take the plunge?
Well, I just turned 30 this year, so it was now or never! I also thought that my portfolio had only now reached a level worthy of the award.
Which of the projects that you entered is your personal favorite and why?
That would be the design for Yoko Ono's Growing Freedom exhibition at Fondation Phi. The process was very smooth. Yoko and the curator immediately loved our proposition, and I think that the simplicity of the design will stand the test of time. I also took great pleasure in designing the collateral material, the print and web campaign, the website and the exhibition catalog. Besides, this is the most recent project I submitted for the contest, and I think I just always prefer my latest work.
Describe the moment when you learned that you won YG17...
I was at work, and I just had a big smile on my face, unable to focus for the rest of the day. I celebrated with a bunch of friends on the following weekend, nothing fancy.
How would you describe your creative style?
I wouldn't say that I have a particular style, but I always strive for simplicity and clarity in my designs. Well crafted typography and custom lettering are at the center of all my best work. My process is both intuitive and rational. In the end, different types of projects call for different processes and styles.
What is your favorite tool when it comes to making what you do, something you’d feel naked without?
You'll always catch me using a basic Muji ballpoint pen on a stack of tabloid paper in front of my keyboard. I also think the people working on the Glyphs app are doing a great job.
What do you do when you hit a creative wall, when you are stuck for ideas and solutions?
First I browse the library shelves, then I try bouncing ideas with my desk neighbors, all talented designers. Then I might turn to my husband, who is also a designer, to have an outsider perspective on the project.
Who are some of the biggest influences on your work and career?
For inspiration, I turn to names like Herb Luballin, Wim Crouwel, Josef Müller-Brockmann, and Peter Saville. On a more personal level, there's Judith Poirier, who was my typography teacher and one of my first design employers. There is also Louis Gagnon, who was my creative director for more than four years at Paprika. They both supported and challenged my ideas while entrusting me with wonderful projects.
Now that you’re in the Young Guns family, are there any past winners that you look up to and admire?
I look up to Braulio Amado (YG13) and Nejc Prah's (YG14) crazy and prolific experimentations, Grilli Type (YG13) and Kris Sowersby's (YG8) flawless type library, Nicolas Ménard's (YG12) breathtaking's animations, Zak Kyes (YG5) and Alex Lin's (YG5) radical perspective on design and Eric Hu's (YG8) views and impact on contemporary design.
Name a creative dream that you have yet to fulfill.
I would someday love to work on a Nike campaign.
Any final thoughts for the Young Guns community?
WORDS FROM THE JURY
“Julien is a designer who isn’t afraid to explore unconventional layouts and typographic combinations. This forces you to see his work as a piece of art before you start to read any words on the page. Pairing this bold layout approach with a delicate and disciplined touch is what makes Julien’s works so special. He’s able to hold onto a strong identity across all of his projects, from album artwork to a postage stamp. It’s a treat to see a designer whose work shows such restraint and confidence.”
Young Guns 11 Winner
“You don’t see Julien Hébert in his work. Instead, you feel his presence. That’s a gift. It’s also a well-employed example of how to execute restraint. Confident, suggestive typography complemented and countered by simple, lean palettes and spatial treatments not only beautifully come together to tell you something, but they also make you feel something as well. That’s not easy. Really good design smacks you in the face. Julien's design just happens to leave a mark.”
Founding Partner, ECD
The Young Guns 17 Ceremony & Party takes place on Thursday, November 20 in New York City.