Spotlighting the stupendous class of Young Guns 20
Nearly 100 renowned industry professionals made up the jury for Young Guns this year. And after revealing the 84 finalists, it is finally time to unveil the 31 winners who make up the class of Young Guns 20.
Every year, we add another class of young talent from all over the globe to the exclusive Young Guns community. The winners of Young Guns 20 are your next project directors, animators, designers, editors, illustrators, artists, photographers, storytellers, coders, and writers. So this is your cue to follow them on Instagram immediately– because they are our industry’s future legends after all.
In two weeks, the winners will fly into NYC from around the world to celebrate their accomplishments, make new friends, have a few cocktails, and take home their official Young Guns Cube. We can’t wait to celebrate with them at Sony Hall on Wednesday, November 16, 2022, at 6:30 PM– and we hope to see you there too!
Before the party begins, we took the time to get to know each of our winners so you can read up on the highly creative individuals who make up Young Guns 20.
KELIA ANNE MACCLUSKEY
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
How did you first hear about Young Guns? What were your initial impressions of the Young Guns competition — the award and the community?
My friend (known each other since kindergarten!) and incredible artist Saad Moosajee (YG18) encouraged me to apply. My first impression was that the award, its community, and the work continues to celebrate its previous winners, showing that it's not a fleeting moment of success or recognition, rather a long-lasting support system. I'm thrilled to now be a part of a lasting, established community.
What motivated you to enter this year?
Yes, the reminder that year 30 is approaching definitely motivated me to apply - but not out of fear of aging. I'm actually quite excited to turn 30 and beyond. I entered because I haven't put my work 'out there' beyond social media, and I felt encouraged to make new connections and relationships within the industry for future collaborations.
How did you decide which six pieces were best to enter and truly reflected you and your work?
I chose projects that show my selectivity, and projects that live in vastly different environments with varying purposes, but demonstrate a consistent point of view.
What went through your mind when you discovered that you won, especially knowing how difficult it is to make it into Young Guns? How did you feel?
I was on set and had just taken the first portrait of the day. The first portrait is always the scariest and most uncertain, but somehow we nailed it. I quickly checked my phone for the time and saw the 'congratulations!' email. The exhilarating feeling of actively creating and simultaneously receiving such validation was a rush, but I had to keep my cool as we still had an 11 hour day ahead of us. I think that's a significant part of the creative process– celebrating your work, then asking, "okay, what's next?!"
How would you describe your personal brand in one sentence? Now, try defining it in three words.
I create expressive, colorful imagery of contemporary culture and notable figures with a timeless and joyful approach. Colorful. Expressive. Memorable.
Who are some of the biggest influences on you and your work? Who may have had a hand in mentoring and supporting you?
My parents have made sacrifices and supported me unconditionally in my pursuit of finding my passion and my purpose. It has been a consistent, pressing goal to make them proud. While in school, my black & white professor Jaclyn Cori-Norman provided an ethos and philosophy that I still adhere to when creating, and I have the pleasure of still having her as a mentor and friend. Michael James O'brien generously provides feedback and advice based off of his illustrious experience in the industry. James Finnigan and Tim Hill helped me understand the importance of context and how to create in a considerate and patient way, leading to an authentic connection with your subject. Theresa Martinsons has supported me in every way, believing in and encouraging me since the beginning of my career.
Now that you’re in the Young Guns crew, are there any past winners you look up to and admire? What is it about their work that you love?
Knowing each other for 20-ish years, Saad Moosajee will always be an inspiration to me. I admire that he knows exactly what he's doing, and he does it to a standard that nobody could imagine. He consistently makes work that makes you stop in your tracks– then you'll find yourself consistently thinking about it for days, weeks, months, and years. It's always memorable and undeniably powerful.
Name a creative/professional dream that you have yet to fulfill — hey, maybe Young Guns can help propel you in that direction!
It's my dream to create a personal project that will be experienced in a gallery setting, and live in a book. I'm ready to collaborate and create with a team just for the sake of creating.
This is YG20, but what do you imagine you’ll be up to when YG30 rolls around in 2032?
Ideally mentoring and working with young, up-and-coming artists while still maintaining a practice of my own. Much of my joy comes from teaching and working alongside students.
"Ideally mentoring and working with young, up-and-coming artists while still maintaining a practice of my own. Much of my joy comes from teaching and working alongside students."
Best advice to share? Will we see you at the official YG20 party in NYC in November?
Pay attention to what brings you joy and pay attention to what makes you feel good, in life, in relationships, and in creating. Follow that joy, and create from it. YES, see y'all soon!
Come party with us and celebrate all the Young Guns 20 winners on Wednesday, November 16 at Sony Hall!