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.
GRAPHIC DESIGNER & ILLUSTRATOR
When did you first hear about Young Guns?
I first heard about Young Guns when my then-boss, Dan Matutina, won the award in 2013. I found it really interesting when I looked it up, since it’s the first time I’ve heard of an award that is portfolio-based.
What did you do differently this time around that may have pushed you into the winners’ circle?
This is my second time entering and also my final chance. I’m no longer “young” by next year. I was a finalist the first time. So close! I’ve included four new projects this time around. I think allowing more project photos also helped, especially since I’ve entered a lot of series-like works.
How do you feel you've grown as an artist in between attempts?
I’ve been blessed with high-profile client work the past year, so I entered those pieces. Those projects really showed my range and how I am able to adapt my illustration style to different kinds of clients. It surprises me up to now that I was able to work on those alone. I think I’ve really grown because it was only last year that I became a fully independent designer and illustrator. That means embracing the full responsibility of managing every aspect of work that comes my way.
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?
I chose projects I really love and asked a mentor to look through my work. He has been a jury to countless award shows, so his input was really valuable. It was a way of seeing my entries from a different perspective.
I think for me it was important to show the jury my consistency as an illustrator, but also my versatility. I did second guess myself though on one project and I changed that to another. It’s not what my mentor proposed, but I really felt like it reflected me more.
How did you celebrate when you found out you won Young Guns?
It was in the wee hours of the morning (4:00am)! I was already in bed checking my email before going to sleep and that’s when I saw the message. I gasped out loud and my heart was beating so fast. I couldn’t sleep anymore so I just got up because I had to do an early deadline anyways.
If you had to pick one of the six projects that you entered as your favorite, which one would it be and why?
For professional, it’s M.A.C. I love how it came to be. The creative director of Asia Pacific saw my editorial work for Tatler Hong Kong on Instagram. I think I was very lucky that they were able to come across my work in that moment in time!
It also seemed like a full circle moment, because M.A.C. was the very first lipstick I purchased, and now I got to draw for them. The scale of the project was also so huge (released in 10 countries), that it gave me a bit of anxiety. It was my first big challenge as an independent illustrator.
For personal, it’s the Philippine endemic series. Because of the project, I was exposed to different organizations working on conservation. I somehow found meaning in what I was drawing. But to be honest, all of those projects are really close to my heart. Each was pivotal in my growth as an illustrator.
If you had to describe your creative style, the part of your work that’s most distinctively “you,” what would it be?
My work is characterised by flora and fauna elements meticulously drawn in textured strokes and vivid colours. Before I used to cram a lot in, but now I try to pace myself when I draw. My hand hurts now when I draw for long periods of time. So I think my work style is trying to keep up with my creative style.
Who are some of the biggest influences on your work and career– people who may have had a hand in mentoring and supporting you?
Dan Matutina, definitely. He has been very supportive of his designers at Plus63, the design studio where I worked for close to seven years. I always go to him when I need advice regarding work. He has opened a lot of opportunities for us and I’m really thankful for that.
He also let us work on other clients while we were at Plus63. That has helped me grow as a designer and illustrator independently. And of course my family who has always supported me ever since I chose an arts degree.
Now that you’re in the Young Guns family, are there any past winners you look up to and admire?
I really like the works of Braulio Amado, Jessica Walsh, Ping Zhu, and Tracy Ma. I love how they conceptualise and execute their work.
The pandemic of 2020 is slowly starting to taper a bit, so do you have any big goals moving forward into 2022?
Personally, I just want to travel again. I miss it so much. In terms of work, nothing in particular, but I’m really hoping to get a lot of fun and exciting projects in the months to come. Working on a project that requires me to travel would be nice too!
Name a professional dream that you have yet to fulfill — hey, maybe Young Guns can help propel you in that direction!
I would love to work on furniture or homeware, or maybe get commissioned by a fashion house! I also hope I get the time and energy to pursue more personal, creative work.
"I would love to work on furniture or homeware, or maybe get commissioned by a fashion house!"
I feel really great and I’m thankful. I have two pieces of advice I want to share. The first is to have interests outside of what you’re doing. The second is to keep exploring and experimenting. You often surprise yourself at the things you're capable of doing when you keep on trying.
Go check out all the Young Guns 19 Winners in the archive!