Young Guns 19: Erik Berger Vaage

By Alixandra Rutnik and Brett McKenzie on Oct 27, 2021

Featuring the creative stars of Young Guns 19

A year and a half of uncertainty across the creative industry and beyond has finally given way to a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel — a spotlight with a great big "YG19" standing in the middle of it. After more than 70 acclaimed creatives from around the world and across a multitude of disciplines reviewed hundreds of submissions, whittling them down to a formidable finalist list, we can finally reveal the phenomenal winners of Young Guns 19!

This year, we welcome a diverse class of 32 inductees into the exclusive Young Guns family, a collection of young creative talent that is already near the top of their game — and will only get better. These are the designers, the art directors, the illustrators, the filmmakers, the animators, the multidisciplinary artists whose names you'll want to know — if you aren't already following their every move, that is.

Ahead of the Young Guns 19 Ceremony + Party taking place on Wednesday, November 17 — our first in-person event since the pandemic began — we are featuring the future legends who will be stepping into the spotlight that evening.



San Francisco, CA


Oslo, Norway


When did you first hear about Young Guns?

I think I heard about it in school, but didn't understand the weight of it until a few years later. When I came around to looking through the list of previous winners I was pretty blown away and intimidated to be honest. It's surreal to see my name next to such talented people, so I'm incredibly grateful.

Since you’ve entered before, what did you do differently this time around that may have pushed you into the winners’ circle?

This was my second time submitting my work. I entered last year as well, but my application was a bit rushed, so I'm happy to have gotten one more chance.

The work was the same, but I spent more time putting together the application and presentation of the projects.

Since you are only allowed to submit six projects, how did you decide which pieces were best to enter and truly reflected you and your work?

It took some time, but I've been lucky to get to work on a wide range of projects. When selecting pieces to enter, I tried to choose the ones that have a good variety of clients and thinking and visual expressions.

How did you celebrate when you found out you won Young Guns?

I was just waking up when I saw the email. I had to re-read it a few times before I realized it wasn't a rejection. Once I did, I immediately told my partner and called my mom.

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

While I appreciate them all, it must be the San Francisco Symphony. A local, world class institution where the work balances the classical with the technological innovation. It was a massive team effort across the whole studio, and we also got to work with some incredible external collaborators. So, a real dream project!

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 know about my specific style as I’m intrigued by building visually distinct worlds for each project and client. That said, I guess my style is a combination of my high quality craft paired with my Norwegian background. I also have an appreciation for visual universes with a lot of personality and strong systematic thinking.

"I don’t know about my specific style as I’m intrigued by building visually distinct worlds for each project and client."

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

Everyone who has walked through the doors at Collins, especially in San Francisco. Bielke&Yang who gave me my first shot while still in school. Rasmus Nilsson for being annoyingly talented and putting up with countless 5+ hour late night phone calls.

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

There's too many to name, but I'm very grateful to have had a chance to learn from and work with Ben Crick, Christian Widlic, and Matt Luckhurst at various points during my time at Collins SF.

The pandemic of 2020 is slowly starting to taper a bit, so do you have any big goals moving forward into 2022?

To work with people in-person again. While I've found a decent rhythm to working from home, I really miss the energy that comes from making and thinking with people in the same room.

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

I have some ideas starting to take shape, but it's too early to tell. What I will say is generally speaking, what I find so interesting about graphic design, and branding specifically, is that it can extend into so many different disciplines. I want to keep working with people I respect and admire, both clients and collaborators in other creative professions.

Thoughts about winning YG19?

Thank you so much to The One Club as well as to all the judges– it's an absolute honor.




Go check out all the Young Guns 19 Winners in the archive!

Young Guns 19 Archive



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