Young Guns 18: Jimmy Simpson

By Alixandra Rutnik and Brett McKenzie on Nov 18, 2020

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.







When did Young Guns first pop up on your radar?

I first became aware of Young Guns through following Johnny Kelly’s (YG7) work. I discovered his short film “Procrastination” while I was applying for college and said “I want to do that”. I love the mix of styles, sense of humor and design. I noticed he had been included in a Young Guns class and ended up discovering a bunch of other inspirational creatives on the site. The award and its winners made me realize that being an independent creative was feasible.

You're a first-time entrant — congrats! What made you enter this year?

My 30th birthday approaching really made me get my act together. I had watched the entry deadline come and go over the last 5 years but never felt fully confident in the work I was making. In retrospect, I was probably avoiding putting together an entry because I find updating my portfolio pretty painful. I’d rather just make new stuff!

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?

My approach to picking projects revolved around showing how I’ve applied my perspective to different briefs and brands. Though a lot of my work is animated, each project requires a pretty different approach. To show this I included narrative work, editorial assignments, a social media sticker pack and some straight-up eye candy. The last project I uploaded was a personal zine project published with Caboose Press. In the end, I feel like the submissions gave a complete picture of who I am and the work I am excited about making.

What went through your mind when you discovered that you won, knowing how difficult it is to make it into Young Guns?

The most exciting aspect of winning the award is being trusted to take on bigger productions. I’ve only recently received projects that give me the ability to enlist the help of talented friends, and its been really exciting so far. I am hoping that this award opens more doors to continue collaborating with people who’s work I admire. Side note: The announcement email ended up going into my spam folder! I guess google thought the news was too good to be true.

If you had to pick one of the six projects that you entered as your favorite, which one would it be and why?

The ident I created for MTV International a few years ago is probably my favorite. I feel like it was the first client project where my expectations met the output. It was essentially an open brief, so it really allowed me to trust my instincts both conceptually and stylistically. I landed on a playful concept that fully embraced how my brain works. I also ended up developing a style that played with environments, depth and lighting in a way I hadn’t before. It’s not often you get to work with a client that has such a rich visual history.

If you had to describe your creative style, the part of your work that’s most distinctively “you”, what would it be?

I would describe my creative style as playful. I have a bit of trouble creating work that takes itself too seriously. My most successful projects have definitely been with brands or clients that allowed for play in the process.

Who are some of the biggest influences on your work and career, people who may have had a hand in mentoring and supporting you?

In college I got a lot of guidance from my professor De Angela Duff. I had a hard time picking a major because I was equally excited about illustration, animation, film and design. She helped me figure out ways to follow my interests and she provided me with plenty of advice along the way.

She has a background in both engineering and design, so she's familiar with needing to follow your own path. I have also gotten a ton of help from Freddy Arenas along the way. Freddy is one of the first people I met in New York and he has really helped me navigate working in commercial art and animation. He’s the first person I go to for any technical, professional or creative question. Dan Savage has also provided some good advice but don’t tell him I said that.

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

This is tough! I would say Robert Wallace (YG11), Braulio Amado (YG13), Tim Lahan (YG10), and Becky and Joe (YG14) are a few that come to mind right away. All of them are prolific and inspiring.

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?

2020 has really put any of my personal problems into perspective. With so many struggling, it's hard to feel anything but gratitude for having my health and being able to do what I love for a living. It’s pretty easy to be in your own world as a freelance creative and this year disrupted that all together. In turn, 2020 has made me much more aware and empathetic of other peoples experiences and perspectives.

Name a creative/professional dream that you have yet to fulfill — hey, maybe Young Guns can help propel you in that direction!

I’d love to work with a musician I admire to do the overall art direction for an album or an EP release. I love the idea of creating everything from the album art and merch, to music videos and live visuals (once that’s a thing again).

Also, skateboarding was my entry point into all things creative and it is still one of my main hobbies outside of making art. I’d love to bring things full circle and create a board series with a brand I back.

Any last words about winning Young Guns 18 that you'd like to share?

I’d like to thank my family, friends and significant other for letting me always be obsessed with my “next project”. I’d like to thank anyone who’s ever paid me to make pictures for them. Also, I'd like to thank all the judges and The One Club for including me this year. Finally, try not to let other peoples opinions stop you from following your own creative interests!


"Jimmy Simpson's works bring pure nostalgia. The way he approaches storytelling is clear and engaging. He uses elements that are sometimes subtle but still magnifies the information in a great way and shifts your eyes in the right focus. His use of well-balanced colors paired with bold illustrations are just on point, and it makes you want to explore all the other world he has to offer."

June Digan
Designer and Illustrator

"It’s not the colorful, bright and simple style that grabbed my attention in the work of Jimmy Simpson, nor is it his clear and omnipresent love for anything pop culture. It also isn’t all about his ‘retro-with-a-keen-eye-for-the-contemporary’ penmanship and it most certainly has nothing to do with the sublime surreal universes in which his tales take place. It’s the absolutely immense velocity in which all mentioned ingredients play strong and clear roles, telling lucid and believable short stories. Jimmy needs merely ten seconds to take audiences through five dimensions and somehow manages to keep the whole thing remarkably easy to grasp. Tight and sweet. Hats off!"

Maartje Slijpen
Art Director/Creative Partner

"What really captured me about Jimmy's work was not only the consistent quality across all submitted pieces, but the nuanced touches in his animation and design style that really bring his work to life. You can tell from the get go there is a really strong sense of design, which is then beautifully accented with great, thoughtful motion. It’s often difficult to find an artist that has a strong handle on these elements. This in addition to the strong use of color and humor with the level of refinement on these pieces demonstrates clearly that Jimmy is deserving of the Young Guns title."

Sekani Solomon
Senior Motion Designer
Node Motion Design
Young Guns 17 Winner



Make sure to check out all the Young Guns 18 Winners in the archive!

Young Guns 18 Archive



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