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 & HONOLULU, HAWAII
When did Young Guns first pop up on your radar?
I heard about Young Guns from Gemma O'Brien's (YG13) story– it was a few years back, during my first years in college when I started to get into typography. I believe it was at the Typo Berlin conference. It started to pop out more after I moved to the US, and I started to work at Pentagram and got into the world of young New York designers.
You're a first-time entrant — congrats! What made you enter this year?
First-timer, yeehaw! 30 is coming soon! It was just about time to try this myself and still have that last chance next year. In addition to the ruthless time passing by, I also feel that my portfolio is ready to showcase and the projects included are a pretty good overview of my experiences.
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?
That was a tough decision, especially becasue of the limited number of images per project. It was a great exercise– to sum up my last five years of experience and pick which represents me the best. My selection tells the story of my various skills. There is a mix of brand identity and lettering, client and personal, commercial and made for culture, and projects that I made solo and with a team.
What went through your mind when you discovered that you won, knowing how difficult it is to make it into Young Guns?
YEAH I MADE IT!? To be completely honest I can't believe it still today and I have no idea what kind of implications it will l have on my future– and that's what is most exciting.
If you had to pick one of the six projects that you entered as your favorite, which one would it be and why?
That is why it was so hard to select only six projects– I have lots of love for each of them! If I must choose just one, I'll say the "M.AD School of Ideas." That was the first brand identity system in which I was able to mix-in my interests in typography and design on a high level. We used those elements to amplify the tensions of chaos and discipline that need to be aligned for every creative project to work.
Thank you to Brian Collins who encouraged me to go that way. Our own creative process was a pure pleasure at every step. We worked closely with our wonderful clients Pippa and Hank, who were kindly open to the ridiculous ideas we came up with. Here at COLLINS, I couldn't imagine having a better team to work with, including our amazing photographer Mari Juliano and our wonderful animators Aran Quinn, Tomas Markevicius and Eric Park.
Big shout outs to our strategists Dash Alison and Christine Takaichi who always point us in the right direction, and our business lead Niamh Walsh, who keeps us all moving. The M.AD School has thriving locations around the world, so I’m always eager to hear what the students think. It’s all for them, in the end.
If you had to describe your creative style, the part of your work that’s most distinctively “you”, what would it be?
A word describing my style, which has been popping out here and there is "good weird," and I embrace that!
Who are some of the biggest influences on your work and career, people who may have had a hand in mentoring and supporting you?
It's a good opportunity to say thank you to the designers who taught me the most at the beginning of my design journey. Their way of thinking, and their design and life approach has shaped me: Marcin Markowski & Grzegorz Marszałek who run Poster Studio at University of Arts in Poznań, Arek Romański, Magda Ponagajbo, Piotr Ręczajski and one and only Michał Pawlik.
Now that you’re in the Young Guns family, are there any past winners you look up to and admire?
It's obviously Gemma O'Brien (YG13) who I looked up to when I was making first steps with lettering. Ben Crick (YG15) with whom I have the pleasure to work with at COLLINS and who is an amazing creative director. I admire everything what Chloe Scheffe's (YG17) comes up with and last but not least, Leo Porto (YG17) who I also had a chance to work with previsouly.
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?
Besides the pandemic and the mess in politics both in the US and Poland it was a tough year in my personal life. Most of the time I was extremely busy working on various exciting projects. Besides the studio work, I managed to design an interior for a ramen shop, art directed and designed a visual identity for a new Polish fashion brand, and worked on a few cultural and social pro-bono projects. I also did some great collaborations, illustrated a few articles, biked 500 km around New York City in the beginning of the pandemic, moved three times, and eventually ended up in Hawaii surfing between zoom calls and deadlines. In other words I've learned that I will never be able to slow down and let go. It's always all-in for me.
Name a creative/professional dream that you have yet to fulfill — hey, maybe Young Guns can help propel you in that direction!
My current dream is to catch a wave on a surfboard designed by myself. Wouldn't be too bad.
Any last words about winning Young Guns 18 that you'd like to share?
Thank you to my lovely friends: Melanie who fed me with cookies during all tough busy days, Emilia and Kacha who have always been my best supporters no matter what, and my favorite New Yorkers Elyanka and Mary Kate. Shout out to Tom Wilder, he knows why.
WORDS FROM THE JURY
"Zuzanna's work tells powerful, emotive, and compelling stories. They have a way of drawing you in right from the start. The tight angles create a sense of raw intimacy and connect the audience with the characters, evoking a sense of empathy."
Illustrator & Designer
"I was excited to see Zuzanna recognized amongst so many talented designers. It’s rare to find a body of work that can be instantly attributed to the designer themselves. Zuzanna’s approach is refreshingly expressive and kinetic. The near graffiti-like characters are distinct in every project using organic strokes, fluid shapes, and bulging letterforms to illustrate a lasting sense of optimism and irreverent play. Her work moves between type design, branding, and animation seamlessly, with focus on vivid color palettes to make work that is truly unique and memorable."
The Working Assembly
"The instant you see Zuzanna Rogatty’s work you know it’s hers, and hers alone. Nothing out there quite looks or feels like it right now. Zuzanna’s energetic and kinetic typography stops you in your tracks and makes you want to study it, decipher it, as if it’s a new language. When I first visited New York City as a young boy in 1979 I was enthralled by the glorious spray-painted subway cars by daring young artists — Zuzanna’s vivacious letterforms evoke a kindred emotion."
Young Guns 1 Winner
Make sure to check out all the Young Guns 18 Winners in the archive!