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!
PHOTOGRAPHER & DIGITAL ARTIST
NEW YORK, NY
When did you first learn about Young Guns?
I first heard about Young Guns from (YG8) winner Rich Tu, when I met him on a panel we did together! At first I had no idea what Young Guns was, but I saw several familiar names and faces of past finalists and winners who I am a fan of. Seeing them seriously made me feel like an imposter knowing I was up against such awesome and talented people.
How did you end up in the creative field anyways?
I was just coloring in an Amelia Bedelia lifesize cutout one day in elementary school and my teacher suggested I apply to a certain specialized middle school. With my middle school portfolio, I got into LaGuardia high school and continued with fine arts. While there, my photography teacher gave me the freedom to explore the studio strobes after school and I was so into it. With this, a few color photography (enlarging color film) classes, mixed with the time from Myspace to Tumblr and Flickr before college got me super excited about this medium so I pursued it further at SVA. The fine arts and photography was all I knew by the time I had to actually figure out what I wanted for my career and I feel so lucky to be making a living today continuing with my passion.
Congrats on winning first place in COLORFUL and being named a YG21 winner! Why did you decide to enter this year?
This was my first time entering and I am actually turning 30 soon so it was now or never! Also, since I won first place in the COLORFUL Awards I got a free entry to Young Guns.
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?
Thankfully a lot of my clients trust my vision so I was able to produce work for others that I really enjoyed making myself. I wanted to show my interpretation of a brand’s products and themes while showing what my style and story is as well. There is also a never-ending list of ideas for shoots in my Notes app for when I am free to create in my down time and sometimes they are very ambitious but it’s the process in trying that makes it fun, even better when people like what they see! Having creative liberty plays a huge factor in my work and I hope it was evident in the pieces I submitted.
How did you celebrate the news?
I discovered I won days later because apparently the news decided to go to my spam folder! I was in my hotel room in Atlanta while writing a personal essay for another project when I found out. Back when the finalists were announced, I was in the Herald Square Macy’s dresses floor slouching on a couch thinking I wouldn’t make it and too afraid to check my phone. I was very exhausted that week and for some reason thought that by being a finalist, you would be cut from the winner round (silly). So I was already happy to have found out I was a finalist, and then a winner? Ecstatic! I celebrated with some really good local phở.
In what ways does your hometown inspire your creativity as an artist?
I am still in the same diverse immigrant neighborhood from when I was born so there is definitely inspiration found in walking the same streets I grew up on and watching the area change and develop. I pass by discount stores with their colorful plastic goods displayed outside and take peeks at shop windows that sell donuts, cookies, cakes, bialys, pizza, and many many fruit stands. A lot of these businesses and people remain the same but they continuously churn my mind, whether it’s about a memory or keeping me curious-constantly thinking about how to mix them into a visual.
Now that you’re a part of the Young Guns community, who are the past winners you look up to and admire?
I love Kelia’s (YG20) photographs of people and the vintage feel in the way they are captured. I also love Michelle’s (YG18) style and storytelling in capturing people, and I'm especially obsessed with the LNY Remy Martin campaign.
If you could create a new Young Guns tradition? What would you want it to be and why?
I’d really love to see folks spend time with children in schools or arts programs to foster, support, and encourage their creativity to flow. As an art school kid and the eldest in my family who grew up with this support, I want to continue giving kids (especially POC) the space and resources to make something from imagination or memory, because kids have the most amazing imagination. This could be done guerilla-style in a park or set up formally with a class!
"I want to continue giving kids (especially POC) the space and resources to make something from imagination or memory, because kids have the most amazing imagination. This could be done guerilla-style in a park or set up formally with a class!"
Name a creative and professional dream project that you have yet to fulfill — maybe Young Guns will propel you in that direction!
I really want to try making a car commercial! Not sure which company yet, but lately, it’s been my fascination while watching TV. I’d also love to work with some K-pop stars, whether for a magazine cover, fashion ad, music video, or album art. Besides perhaps collabing with brands like Louis Vuitton, Nike, or Google, I'm open to any collaborations whose creative would be fun, colorful, and wild. I also would happy-scream at a campaign posted on the subways.
This is YG21, but what do you imagine you’ll be up to when YG31 rolls around in 2033?
Personally, I expect to have children in the future so I would have to vacate my little studio office at home for them and be hosting my business and shoots elsewhere. Hopefully my professional ventures will find me in a more secure place to support a family, perhaps purchase property, and continue running my creative life. Maybe I’ll be a creative director for different brands or still doing my own thing!
Will we see you at the YG21 party in NYC in November?
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!