Young Guns 21: Alistair Nicholls

By Alixandra Rutnik and Brett McKenzie on Nov 01, 2023

Get to know the phenomenal class of Young Guns 21

After 85 incredible finalists and intense deliberation, the Young Guns jury has narrowed it down to the 29 winners that make up the class of Young Guns 21. An astounding collection of animators, illustrators, film directors, typographers (a few Ascenders 2023 winners as well!), graphic designers, and photographers make up YG21.

Every year we interview the Young Guns winners to get to know them better as artists and people. And as always, we are welcoming another class of outstanding individuals into the highly coveted Young Guns community.

Now that you know the YG21 winners better, we hope you’ll join us in celebrating them in person at NYC’s Sony Hall on Wednesday, November 15, 2023, at 6:30 PM. See you in two weeks and get ready to party!

Alistair Nicholls
Director & Animator


Norwich, UK


Norwich, UK


What were your original impressions of the Young Guns competition, the award, and the community?

I'd never heard of Young Guns before! I got an email about it and was intrigued, decided to enter as I thought it might be cool and I'm so glad I did!

How did you end up in the creative field anyways?

I always loved making things and grew up in a creative household. Coming from Norfolk there isn't any local opportunities to get into directing animation, so it was hard to imagine doing it as a career. The fact that I'm able to do this as a job is ridiculous.

Congrats on the W! Why did you decide to enter this year?

I entered without really knowing what it was, but thought it might be a good idea as I recognised some of the past winners.

You only get to submit six projects that embody you and your talent. The best of the very best. So, how did you decide which pieces were good enough to make the cut?

They are the projects I had the most fun doing and represent my style the best, but it was tricky.

Knowing how difficult it is to actually win Young Guns, what was your reaction when you discovered that you won?

Ahh, I had just finished doing a music video in a super short amount of time and had very little sleep. Bleary eyed with plasticine in my fingernails, I heard a "ding" (this is the gmail notification on my laptop). I lifted my head to see an email from Young Guns 21! I scanned the email and couldn't believe it! I did a little dance around my studio (being careful not to stomp on plasticine), but I still can't really believe it!

In what ways does your hometown inspire your creativity as an artist?

I'm from a seaside town in Norfolk, so the imagery from the local fairs and seaside attractions is very inspiring. Also, there are alot of strange looking people in Norfolk, (myself included), so I often get inspired by observing them.

Now that you’re a part of the Young Guns community, are there any past winners you look up to and admire? What is it about their work that you love?

For me it's Becky & Joe (YG14). Their work is so ridiculously creative and unique. I love their use of mixed media, humour, and surreal ideas. Seeing their work really helped me embrace more surreal and strange ideas, but within the world of stop-motion.

If you could create a new Young Guns tradition, what would you want it to be and why?

Something to do with yogurt? Like a yogurt baptism or drinking a pint of yogurt in two minutes.

Now that you're a Young Guns winner, what's one of your dream projects

Oooo I'd love to do something with PG Tips. I drink alot of tea so I feel a spiritual connection to them. Or doing something at Aardman Animations would be a dream!

"Oooo I'd love to do something with PG Tips. I drink alot of tea so I feel a spiritual connection to them."

This is YG21, but what do you imagine you’ll be up to when YG31 rolls around in 2033?

Hopefully working on cool projects! My cat will be a year older, so probably celebrating his birthday.



Come party with us and celebrate all the Young Guns 21 winners on Wednesday, November 15 at Sony Hall! See you at 6:30 PM in NYC!

Get tickets! It's party time!

The class of Young Guns 21



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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