Armando Veve: Illustrated Man

By Brett McKenzie Posted on Sep 04, 2018

Young Guns 15 winner reflects on his past year

With Labor Day behind us, there's a certain something in the air, and it's not just the onset pumpkin spice. The countdown to Young Guns 16 — the career-changing portfolio competition for creative professionals 30 years of age and under —  begins in earnest this month, with the live unveiling of this year's finalists at The One Club for Creativity Gallery this Thursday. The artists revealed that night aren't Young Guns yet, but they've already survived two intense rounds of judging, beating out more than 80% of all submissions, and they deserve this recognition before the big prize in November.

Philadelphia-based illustrator Armando Veve, however, can breathe easy this Thursday. He's already been through this, having not only won Young Guns 15 last year, but also being named the Levine/Leavitt Artist-In-Residence winner — an honor that one of the unveiled finalists will also win this year.

Armando will be joining us this Thursday to share his experience of winning Young Guns and the Artist-In-Residence Award, but ahead of the event, we had a chance to catch up with the famed artist.

What made you enter Young Guns in the first place? Were you confident that you'd have a chance of winning, or did you have doubts that you had to get past?

I wanted to share my work with a larger audience with the hopes of being able to diversify the types of projects I was getting. My work was evolving and I felt like I had developed a portfolio of published works that I was excited about. It felt like the right time to share my work to a global audience.

I try not to have any expectations of winning. The final decision is really based on how the work is received in front of the jury. There is an incredible range of works that have been recognized too so it’s hard to predict what will make the cut. The most difficult aspect of the process was deciding which six works to present.

I understand that you were initially reluctant to take on the Artist-In-Residence award from Levine/Leavitt. What were some of the pros and cons you were hearing before you made your decision?

For several years the majority of my jobs have been for newspapers and magazines, which are relatively easy to navigate contract-wise. I didn’t see a need for an agent to facilitate these projects. Also the idea of having someone else manage communication with clients made me a bit uncomfortable. And I didn’t like the idea of paying someone a commission for my hard work.

However, as my studio expands, it is becoming more important that I place more trust in others so I have more time to focus on the art. The Levine/Leavitt Artist-In-Residence award was a perfect opportunity to experiment with representation and see how that fits into the framework of my studio practice. I spoke with a few friends when I was deciding whether or not to accept the opportunity. It seemed like a no-brainer. There was nothing to lose, it could only be a learning experience.

So far it has been a very positive experience. Already this year we’ve completed several projects including packaging for a Canadian cider company, and I am currently working on an illustration for my first ad campaign. This would not have been possible without their network and experience.

" I spoke with a few friends when I was deciding whether or not to accept the opportunity. It seemed like a no-brainer. There was nothing to lose, it could only be a learning experience."

So now that you've been a Young Guns winner and an Artist-In-Residence for ten months or so, what's it been like?

Things have been moving at lightning speed this past year. I think it’s a combination of several factors, including the exposure that resulted from being named a Young Guns winner and making the Forbes 30 under 30 list.

I still maintain a healthy dose of editorial work - I love the process, but I have begun expanding into other types of work. Really anything I can get! I have old clients I work with on a recurring basis, and new collaborators who found my work through the Young Guns program. If I turn down a project it is usually because I do not have time. It’s rare that I am presented with a project that I can’t find a way to be excited about. I think that is a big part of the job - finding a way to take something that is seemingly banal and making it interesting.

What's next for you? Any secret projects coming up?

I’m currently working on my first ad campaign thanks to LL Reps! They helped me to successfully pitch and sell my idea. Hopefully I will be able to give you a sneak peek this Thursday!



Armando will be speaking at The One Club for Creativity Gallery this Thursday, September 6. alongside 360i CCO and fellow Young Guns winner Menno Kluin. Following the discussion, we will be unveiling the Young Guns 16 finalists to the world — the final step before the winners are revealed this November.




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