Young Guns 17: Sekani Solomon
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.
Senior Motion Designer
New York, NY
Hope, Trinidad & Tobago
First of all, congratulations! Now how did you first discover Young Guns?
I'm not quite sure actually. Being in the advertising and motion graphics industry, I’ve always heard about Young Guns. This year I did some additional research on the award, and I discovered the bar for excellence that it represented. Something in me was curious to find out if I were up to the challenge, and I decided to give it a go.
Seeing that this was all new to you, how did decide what you were going to enter?
Over the years I’ve been so focused on making the work that I never thought too much of entering my work for awards. Perhaps I was a bit fearful of having my work judged in this capacity. This year after being invited to apply, I figured I’d give it a shot. I was more comfortable and confident with the work that I was producing, and I thought I’d see if people would think that my work was getting close to that bar of excellence worthy of a Young Guns award.
Which of the projects that you entered is your personal favorite and why?
My favorite project would definitely be Hidden. That project was a labor of love over the course of a year that took the full range of my skill set to execute. I’m really proud of it because it’s something I conceptualized and executed from beginning to end. I had the opportunity to tell this story I conjured up using all the technical skills I learned over the years. I did it in the most exciting and dynamic way I could, really showcasing who I am as an artist.
Being a commercial artist, your voice can sometimes get lost in the work you do for clients. Passion projects allow me to express my voice as an artist. It’s an opportunity to try new things, be bold and express the thoughts and feelings that represent you. Making work also genuinely makes me happy, so I’m always actively thinking about what I can create next.
What was it like to learn that you won YG17?
When I initially entered, I had very tempered expectations, so when I heard the news I won, I was incredibly happy. It showed that all the work that I’ve been investing in myself and craft was paying off and could be recognized in a tangible way.
How would you describe your creative style?
I love making things that feel cinematic and surreal. With all the possibilities that 3D brings, I always try to visually push how I can show an idea or concept. I use a lot of dynamic camera moves and effects, but also to put a good bit of attention to detail and polish on my pieces, always making sure to have the visuals be in equilibrium with the concept.
What is your favorite tool when it comes to making what you do, something you’d feel naked without?
Everything I make is digital so obviously a computer. My drawing skills aren't the best, so I’m happy to live in a time where I have these digital tools at my disposal to create worlds that I’d never be able to make using my own hands. My work is usually 3D so Cinema 4D would be my weapon of choice. When you couple Cinema with a renderer like Redshift, you get this amazing tool that allows you to do technical work while using real-time render previews to make sure the design and composition are up to par.
What do you do when you hit a creative wall, when you are stuck for ideas and solutions?
It really depends. Sometimes I grind at it until I come up with something, but most times I take a step back and do something completely different then come back to it. I usually find it difficult to come up with ideas if I'm anxious or frustrated. Stepping away gives me a mental reset, like restarting a computer; when it powers back on, it’s a fresh start. Usually, when I come back I’m in a better mental state to create better work and come up with ideas. Looking at inspiration also often helps to spur my creative juices.
Who are some of the biggest influences on your work and career?
Raoul Marks has been one of my biggest influences over the past few years. When he did the 2015 Semi Permanent titles, it was one of the first times that I saw a Motion Designer execute a piece with such good design, style, and animation by himself with such a high level of proficiency. It really showed me what one artist could be capable of, and inspired me to put more effort into my own work. I haven’t had the chance to meet him, but perhaps at some point, I will
I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of great friends and mentors over the years, guys like Jeremy Cox, Theo Daley, and my college professor Austin Shaw really help me to make good career decisions and push my work.
Now that you’re in the Young Guns family, are there any past winners that you look up to and admire?
I really dig the work that Shane Griffin (YG10) does and the progress he has made in his creative career. He's also a cool dude!
Name a creative dream that you have yet to fulfill.
I’ve always wanted to work with a dope artist to create a music video. There are so many talented youths back home in Trinidad and Tobago that I’d love to figure out how I can apply skills to create something awesome with one of them. My schedule is always so hectic lately so hopefully at some point I can find time to bring that idea to life.
Any final thoughts for the Young Guns community?
Coming from Trinidad and Tobago, where design isn't as integral to the culture as it is in places in New York and Los Angeles, I’m particularly happy I've been named a Young Guns 17 winner. I want to show young people back home that it is possible to achieve success in the design field at a high level. This award also serves as a reminder of the importance of hard work and consistency. It's paramount to keep the work at this level while aiming to push it further.
WORDS FROM THE JURY
"To start, I want to say I most enjoyed judging all of the animators who entered this year Sekani’s work stood out in ways that made me excited when I viewed his entries: the exquisite interplay of textures, the strength of the silhouettes chosen to capture maximum drama, and the diverse sources of imagery he integrates effortlessly into his animations. The narratives are clear and need no audio to drive the stories forward. He appears to be a brilliant storyteller with a firm grasp of his craft. Kudos and welcome to the Young Guns, young sir!"
Principal & Founder
Young Guns 1 Winner
The Young Guns 17 Ceremony & Party takes place on Thursday, November 20 in New York City.