Young Guns 20: Talia Cotton

By Alixandra Rutnik and Brett McKenzie on Nov 02, 2022

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.







How did you first learn about Young Guns?

An esteemed former teacher and past Young Guns winner whom I adore, Kevin Brainard (YG2), has been rooting for me since I was his student.

What made you enter this year?

I'm bad at "putting myself out there" (and hate doing it) because for me, I do work for the sake of doing the work, and that alone is what brings me joy. However, it's been more and more apparent that the design world right now is craving answers to the big unknown of "code." What's it for? Why use it? How to start? How can it be applied pragmatically? Does its advancement imply a shift in graphic design? Between my traditional design background, love of math/systems, and experience teaching, I'm dedicated to educating the design community on what’s possible with code, helping them understand how it can be applied pragmatically and memorably for success, and inspiring them to pursue the study of code as well. Young Guns was my bashful trojan horse for helping someone somewhere realize that they can pursue coding, or how to better their work through coding.

So, I won't be publicizing my win. It's not about that. If the platform allows someone to discover something new through me, that's the win for me.

You are only allowed to submit six projects, so how did you choose?

Every piece I submitted utilized coding in a radically different way as a part of the design. I want people to see the breadth of its impact on communication design, beyond just an aesthetic.

"Every piece I submitted utilized coding in a radically different way as a part of the design. I want people to see the breadth of its impact on communication design, beyond just an aesthetic."

What went through your mind when you discovered that you won, especially knowing how difficult it is to make it into Young Guns?

I received the news amidst running between one big thing and another. I rarely celebrate- I'm always looking at what's next. For me, the work is just beginning.

Who may have had a hand in mentoring and supporting you?

I'm a self-taught coder, but even more importantly, the methods by which the code is applied and implemented pragmatically and cleverly within design is self-taught as well. I have a long list of people who told me "No." Brendan Griffiths and Justin Bakse were the two individuals who kicked me off with code in the beginning at Parsons, and they've been supporting me this whole way.

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

My next step will involve leading my own team of designers and coders.

This is YG20, but what do you imagine you’ll be up to when YG30 rolls around in 2032?

I will probably have had robotic conversion surgery and will be a walking algorithm. There isn't much research on it yet, but I hope they consider perfect hair, skin, and nails. I often forget to wash my face properly when I'm coding, so I'm hoping being a robot will solve the problem of the occasional blackhead.

Best piece of advice?

Every obstacle is an opportunity.



Come party with us and celebrate all the Young Guns 20 winners on Wednesday, November 16 at Sony Hall!

Get tickets! It's party time!

The class of Young Guns 20



Fire + Fragility: Zuzanna Rogatty's YG21 Cube Design
Young Guns 21: Max Amato
Young Guns 21: Justin Au
Young Guns 21: Tess Ayano







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