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!
DARIUS OU DAHAO
What were your original impressions of the Young Guns competition, the award, and the community?
I first learned about Young Guns in my diploma years. Over the years, I kept seeing the award name in many of my favourite graphic designers’ portfolios on the internet. Initially, I did not know it was open to multiple creative disciplines, and that made the award seem a lot more challenging to attain.
How did you end up in the creative industry anyways?
I loved to draw as a kid and I happened to enroll in a technical school with foundational classes that were all arts-and-crafts based in the first year—which made me realise that I was not good at it. The graphic design classes came in the second year and I was much more comfortable with them. Right after I received my diploma, I started looking for freelance opportunities and have been doing that since.
Congrats on the win! How do you feel you've matured as an artist since the last time you entered?
This is not my first time entering, but it was almost my last chance to enter. Every year I enter it pushes me to streamline my portfolio and the vision for my practice gets clearer. My portfolio this year is clear and includes work that is important to me, and what I’m really interested in and committed to creating.
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?
It’s really hard to choose what feels right, while keeping it tight. Some projects have stayed in my portfolio for awhile and it can be difficult to cut them out. Eventually, I selected the projects that will best represent my future practice.
Knowing how difficult it is to actually win Young Guns, what was your reaction when you discovered that you won?
I live in a timezone where the news reached me just before bed time. I got up immediately and just stared outside my window for a bit in disbelief. Everything hit me the following day, and I did not sleep that night!
In what ways does your hometown inspire your creativity as an artist?
In Singapore, we do not always have the same resources, avenues, or opportunities for creative projects as compared to other places– to working with limitations and finding value in constraints, to working from the ground-up, to finding like-minded people and communities to do things together—all contributed to a certain attitude I carry in my practice.
Now that you’re a part of the Young Guns community, are there any past winners you look up to and admire?
Name a creative and professional dream project that you have yet to fulfill — maybe Young Guns will propel you in that direction!
I have always envied the moving image as a medium, so I would love to work on a film, perhaps in the far future!
This is YG21, but what do you imagine you’ll be up to when YG31 rolls around in 2033, both personally and professionally?
Personally, keeping my hair. Professionally, keeping my flair.
"Personally, keeping my hair. Professionally, keeping my flair."
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!