Highlighting the creative superstars that make up the class of Young Guns 18
2020 has been one rollercoaster of a year, but fortunately, the spirit of creativity can't be dampened. Want proof? Check out the winners of Young Guns 18!
Beginning with our largest and most diverse jury in history, acclaimed creatives from across the globe spent three months reviewing hundreds of submissions from insanely talented young professionals seeking validation for all of their hard work. After narrowing down the field to 83 top-notch finalists, the jury engaged in virtual discussion and debate, deciding who will win one of the most career-impacting honors in our industry.
In the end, we are honored to present the 31 incredible winners of Young Guns 18, a diverse collection of artists, filmmakers, animators, designers, illustrators, and others, all of them representing some of the very best that their fields have to offer.
We invite you to learn about all 31 Young Guns 18 winners in this series of interviews.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
When did Young Guns first pop up on your radar?
The first time I heard of Young Guns was when I was a student at the School of Visual Arts. My professor, Dan Blackman (YG9), who was a mentor figure to me, brought in a guest Lotta Nieminen (YG8) and they discussed different career highlights such as Young Guns. After hearing the lecture, I did research and realized that all of the teachers I had taken (or planned on taking) had all received this achievement as well. Winning Young Guns became one of my long term career goals because I thought that it would give me the exposure and flexibility to freelance from home. Who knew I'd hate working from home so much?
Congrats on the Young Guns W! What did you do differently this year?
Looks like third time really is the charm. In past years I tried to show a range of projects that really focused on a consistent visual style. This year, I chose to enter projects that all highlighted representation in different ways. While both attempts showcase my point-of-view, this year's entry focused more on the heart than on a first impression.
Young Guns is as much an exercise in self-curation as it is in sheer creative talent. After all, you are only allowed to submit six projects. How did you go about deciding which pieces to submit and which to leave out?
This was the first year I didn't enter a personal project. While my personal projects are very representative of my visual style, I realized that they were mostly for fun and exploration. Something that was present in most of professional work was inclusion, advocacy, and representation. While those themes would pop up in a lot of my personal projects, they'd often be overshadowed by visual twists.
What went through your mind when you discovered that you won, knowing how difficult it is to make it into Young Guns?
I was in a state of shock and I still am! I felt a huge mix of emotions—honored, excited, grateful, unworthy... Young Guns is something that I wanted for so long, but with everything going on this year in my personal life, I was so close to not entering. I'm incredibly thankful to my friends and family who always surround me with love and encouragement. Without them, I wouldn't be able to achieve most of the successes that have graced me this year.
If you had to pick one of the six projects that you entered as your favorite, which one would it be and why?
My favorite project has to be the 'Our Roots. Our Sound', Spotify's first public-facing Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPIHM) campaign. While AAPIHM is celebrated every May by many in the Asian and Pacific Islander (API) community in North America, it became quite apparent how few people actually recognize it.
With the rise and spread of COVID-19, anti-API hate crimes were at an all time high. While walking in a park in New York, I personally was shoved to the ground and was called racial slurs. Regardless if you were young or old, an immigrant or American-born, the API community was being unjustly targeted. The campaign ‘Our Roots. Our Sound’ is about amplifying the rising API voices who are redefining culture. Not only Asian creators, but also their fans across the globe. We are not a monolith and we deserve to be celebrated. Growing up, I didn't see myself in most of the media surrounding me, so it was a privilege to showcase different types of Asian art and beauty through this project.
If you had to describe your creative style, the part of your work that’s most distinctively “you”, what would it be?
Stylized, subversive, and smart. I strive to have my work embody a balance between these three aspects. While I really care about craft, I try not to create work that is pretty for pretty's sake. I want to grab the viewer's attention with a strong visual, and then have them find a slight twist or deeper meaning when they take a second look.
Who are some of the biggest influences on your work and career, people who may have had a hand in mentoring and supporting you?
My SVA instructors Dan Blackman (YG9) and Natasha Jen (YG3) taught me so much about craft and responsibility when I was a huge mess of a student. At my first full time job at Anomaly, I met four incredible women who mentored me through my career journey and shifts: Cynthia Pratomo, Ida Gronblom, Jen Leartanasan, and Lea Egan. I had always thought I wanted to champion design, but as I grew and started shifting into art and creative direction, they were incredibly supportive. They helped me figure out my process, master my presentation style, and they taught me so much in and out of work. Each one of them has seen me cry from various reasons like pressure at work to heartbreak out of work, and they guided me with open arms. I am incredibly grateful for them.
Now that you’re in the Young Guns family, are there any past winners you look up to and admire?
Pretty much all of them, but some recent winners that come to mind: Mathery (YG16), Noemie Le Coz (YG15), Leo Porto (YG17), Nadia Lee Cohen (YG16), Tal Mydian (YG16), and Zipeng Zhu (YG13). Some of these winners I admire from afar, and some of them I'm lucky enough to call friends.
It goes without saying that 2020 has been a pretty crazy year, with a global pandemic and social upheaval shaping so many facets of our lives. Aside from the positive news of winning Young Guns, how has this year been for you?
This year has been crazy! Despite the pandemic, I'm also going through some of the biggest changes I've ever gone through in my personal life this year. The biggest lesson I've learned is to try not to care so much about what others think. It's not a new concept, and I've heard it so many times, but really putting it into practice was not easy. It sounds so simple right? At the end of the day, when you look at yourself, it's most important that you are proud of the person you've become. For the first time in a long time, I'm happy to be taking care of me.
Name a creative/professional dream that you have yet to fulfill — hey, maybe Young Guns can help propel you in that direction!
My new creative goal is to direct a music video for an artist I love! I get the pleasure of doing work that's adjacent to that output at Spotify, but I hope to one day work with an artist over a period of time or creative direct every output of an album.
WORDS FROM THE JURY
"Edward Yeung is a talented art director born between analog and digital. Their expression is marked by a nostalgic color scheme and typography. As a result, their work is made of universal design elements but with a unique realization. They are a creator with an excellent sense of balance between expression and concept."
Creative Director/Design Strategist
Young Guns 7 Winner
"What’s better than spectacular work? Spectacular work with purpose! Edward brings forth their activism in an unapologetically rich and vibrant style, giving a platform and a voice to the marginalised. Their socially-charged work is a beautiful crusade for good that empowers and uplifts both visually and emotively."
Executive Creative Director
Make sure to check out all the Young Guns 18 Winners in the archive!