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.
DIRECTOR & ARTIST
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
When did Young Guns first pop up on your radar?
The first time I became aware of Young Guns was in high school. I used to spend a lot of time on Deviantart, and a few artists who I knew online introduced me to Stefan Sagmeister's (YG1) work. I purchased a copy of his book "Made You Look," and while I was researching him I discovered Young Guns. I noticed other artists that I admired including Alex Trochut (YG6) and Deanne Cheuk (YG4) had also won the award, so I made it a point to bookmark the ADC site. I also noticed there weren't many South Asian artists featured, and thought it could be cool to try and change that.
You won on your second try— congrats! What did you do differently this year?
I entered once in 2018, not really with the intention of winning but more as a kind of "see where I'm at" type of exercise and to see if I could shortlist. The first time I entered was also the year I decided I wasn't really happy with the portfolio I had – it contained client work and personal work in many directions, but nothing that I felt really reflected me.
I decided to change my approach, and I became more selective with the client work I took on, trying to choose things where I had an opportunity to express my voice better. I also spent more time exploring personal projects, and looking for ways I could bring what excited me into my paid work. I actually took down my whole portfolio, and then slowly began building it back up. I made a rule not to add anything unless I really believed in it. I had very little to show for a while, but found I was overall much happier with the output.
My process became about slowing down from the demand to constantly produce for the sake of it, so I could take my time and do things the way I actually wanted. The portfolio I submitted for Young Guns this year was made with this approach – all of the submitted projects were made recently.
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?
I decided what to submit very quickly because I'm constantly self-curating in the client work I take on and the personal work I make. I'm producing work all the time, whether its pitches for clients or sketches for personal work. I'm deliberate about what I invest my time in to properly realize and take to completion. Everything I entered for Young Guns was made in the last two years, and although I work constantly and have made countless things since then, I've only actually published around eight projects in that timespan.
Each of the projects is quite large in scope, in time invested and in ambition. With most of my videos, I iterate so much that by the end of the project I can often fill a separate video from all the unused scenes. With most of what I entered into Young Guns, my goal is for an audience to be able to view the work and engage with it more than once, and ideally have it leave a lasting impression.
What went through your mind when you discovered that you won, knowing how difficult it is to make it into Young Guns?
I was very happy and grateful. Mainly I was thinking about how few South Asians individuals have won this award, and I was excited that by winning, it put me in a better to position to encourage and support other artists from my community to achieve Young Guns and similar recognitions.
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 is probably my most recent music video for Joji's Track 777. The journey of it was incredibly difficult as it was made in quarantine and was the first video I did where everything was remote. It's probably my favorite because of the subject matter and the themes it's trying to address. The opportunity to try and visualize a contemporary depiction of heaven, and to visualize angels – that was a lot of fun.
If you had to describe your creative style, the part of your work that’s most distinctively “you”, what would it be?
I don't think I ever tried to directly form a style, but I'm obsessed with a lot of things and if I have a style it's a culmination of those obsessions. My work is about creating self contained worlds through visual and conceptual detail.
One consistent trait is that I try to make every frame of my videos feel like a photograph or a painting. In all my projects I obsess over finding a beautiful aesthetic that feels both old and new, but I am equally concerned with balancing that against a meaningful narrative, idea, and emotional response.
My interest in art direction has lead me to experiment a lot with animation techniques and visual treatments. The process I use mirrors the style – it is often quite laborious, detail driven and exploratory. I know what qualities I want the work to have but I never quite know how I'm going to get there, so I keep making, iterating and detailing until I arrive.
Who are some of the biggest influences on your work and career, people who may have had a hand in mentoring and supporting you?
Stefan Sagmeister, who I worked for prior to my independent practice was a big influence in terms of process and approach, along with the time I spent working at Pixar, Google Creative Lab and Art Camp. In particular, Andrew Herzog, Santiago Carrasquilla, Zipeng Zhu and Sam Mason have consistently guided and supported my work. I wouldn't be in the career I'm in without Nashra Balagamwala, Steve Caputo, and Michael Frederickson.
Now that you’re in the Young Guns family, are there any past winners you look up to and admire?
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 have a solo show of work I've made someday, even if it's in a small space. Hopefully sometime in the future when it's safe to do so and I've made some new work. I would also love to work for Bjork, if anyone reading this can make that happen.
WORDS FROM THE JURY
"Saad makes images and animations that are emotional. That’s very hard to do. To get the viewer to feel a connection Saad puts himself into what he creates. The stroke of his pencil. The expression of his own opinions. His worldview shines through in the beautifully composed, and thoroughly original, music videos for Thom Yorke and Mitksi. He creates worlds that I loved exploring as I got to know him through his work."
Director/Executive Creative Producer
Young Guns 3 Winner
"Moosajee’s work does that rare thing so seldom achieved – it evokes an emotional response. Through his deft introduction of hand illustration over digital images, he’s managed to elevate the often cold qualities of CGI to a deeply emotional level."
"Of particular note are some of the images created for Thom Yorke’s “Last I Heard”. Floating intersections, faceless diners, and children dancing in the fire, really great stuff. This among the rest of his body of work makes him a highly deserving recipient."
"Saad is a pure visionary. Every single work that he has done is nothing but impressive. Every piece has its own unique direction but also a high level of exquisite taste and execution. His work is so consistently mind-blowing even from the wide range of mediums that he crosses over is also very rare."
Designer, Art Director, Illustrator & Animator
Young Guns 13 Winner
Make sure to check out all the Young Guns 18 Winners in the archive!