Young Guns 17: Roberts Rūrāns

By Brett McKenzie Posted 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.

Roberts Rūrāns


Riga, Latvia


Riga, Latvia



First of all, congratulations! Now how did you first discover Young Guns? 

I saw some of the previous year's winners sharing their accomplishments on social media and thought to myself "This sounds fancy. I should give it a try sometime." Then I was nominated to participate this year, and since I'm not getting younger, I figured I'd better hurry up and apply.

Which of the projects that you entered is your personal favorite and why?

I guess it would have to be the animations I made in collaboration with an animator Eduards Balodis for the National Library of Latvia. It's always a pleasure to collaborate with Eduards, the client was nice and I love the fact that we were able to show long stories in a short and witty way. In addition to that, I appreciate that my work could bring value to a project of national interest.

One of the highlights of entering Young Guns is the ability to submit personal projects alongside professional ones. Did you take advantage of this?

I didn't submit any personal work, but I'm grateful to have had brave clients whose commissions have turned out as bold and playful as if they were made as personal work.

What was it like to discover that you won YG17?

I was really excited and jumped a few times. I told my wife immediately, and then we both jumped around a few times and celebrated with a glass of wine afterwards.

How would you describe your creative style?

I think my style is a mix of the modern aesthetics of visual simplicity and traditional painting technique, influenced by early modernist painters. Playful characters, simple shapes, use of textures, bright colors and witty compositions, often with a touch of humor and ease are also some of the characteristics that describe my style. It gets to be artsy and approachable, yet does not lose the potential for commercial use. 

What is your favorite tool when it comes to making what you do, something you’d feel naked without? 

In my case, it's my mechanical pencil, eraser, acrylic paints and flat brushes, paper and, of course, a computer. I love the fact that my work always involves the creation of something tangible — an original painting. I'll make an exhibition with all of my originals when I turn 50.

What do you do when you hit a creative wall, when you are stuck for ideas and solutions?

Headbanging always helps. If it doesn't, then sometimes I ask for help from my wife or designer friends and do a bit of brainstorming with them. The sound of the clock ticking is also helpful.

Who are some of the biggest influences on your work and career? 

That's a good question! Let us shed some light on the ones who deserve it:

As for influences that I don't know — but would like to — there's Nicolas Ménard (YG12), Magoz and Christoph Niemann (YG2).

Now for influences that I do know, here's a shout out to my dear friends and master designers Aigars Mamis and Miķelis Baštiks, my lovely wife Māra, and a great illustrator from a neighboring country, Karolis Strautniekas

Now that you’re in the Young Guns family, are there any past winners that you look up to and admire?

Christoph Niemann, Jessica Walsh (YG8), Stefan Sagmeister (YG1), Braulio Amado (YG13), Nicolas Ménard, and Eiko Ojala (YG11) have all served as sources of inspiration.

Name a creative dream that you have yet to fulfill.

Working with great clients all over the world, Illustrating Bon Iver's next album artwork, making posters for the Olympics or doing a key visual for a Greenpeace campaign would all be nice. I'm not asking too much, am I? 

Any final thoughts for the Young Guns community?

I'd like to thank my family, friends, and followers for your support and encouragement.

To all the young creatives out there: don't let your dreams be dreams. Yesterday you said: "tomorrow". Just do it.


"I was drawn to Roberts Rūrāns’ work because of his clean lines, powerful colors and that handmade feeling that we lack and crave so much in the digital world. His characters are anonymous humans, incredible bugs and dogs carrying a purse and they all coexist in this universe that’s both vibrant and quiet. Rūrāns’ work seems dipped into Russian avant-garde, street art and a colorful bowl of borsch."

Olimpia Zagnoli
Young Guns 9 Winner

"Roberts Rūrāns' illustrations are charming and delightful. But look closely, and you will notice the artful way he is playing with angles, proportions, and scale, creating unexpected, witty compositions that demonstrate a sophistication and a uniqueness of style that most do not reach until later in their careers. He uses color skillfully, and his expressive figures and graphic landscapes show a strong design sensibility. I love his commitment to the handmade, in painting with acrylic on paper, especially in this time where almost everything is done digitally. The texture and depth in the painted details are a joy to behold."

Erin Jang
Creative Director
The Indigo Bunting

The Young Guns 17 Ceremony & Party takes place on Thursday, November 20 in New York City. 




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