Young Guns 16: Ilya Milstein

By Brett McKenzie Posted on Nov 01, 2018

Showcasing the incredible winners of Young Guns 16

After months of decisions, discussions and debate, The One Club For Creativity is thrilled to unveil the winners of Young Guns 16! These 30 art directors, illustrators, filmmakers, photographers and designers of all types stood above all in this career-making, globe-spanning portfolio-based competition.

Ahead of the Young Guns 16 Ceremony + Party taking place on November 15, we are shining a spotlight on the various superstars who will be honored that evening.

Ilya Milstein
New York, NY



What does winning this award mean to you? 

Winning Young Guns means a great deal to me — having my work endorsed by the jurors inspires elusive confidence, and entering the ranks of the remarkable past winners is profoundly humbling. As a relatively new hand to the commercial arts, I only learned about the award last year, and it became an instant goal, but one that I assumed was clearly unattainable. So being nominated, becoming a finalist, and now winning has been surreal.

It’s not easy to be a successful creative. What sorts of challenges have you encountered to get where you are today? 

I was confused and indecisive about what kind of work I wanted to make for a long time, which was a terribly challenging period. I overcame it by becoming a better thermometer of my needs and desires - I asked for advice, took good care of my health, trusted my intuition, planned, and worked like mad.

How did you decide what to enter into Young Guns? Was it a challenge to curate yourself?

I chose to enter the work that I felt most comprehensively displayed my aesthetic rather than just larger-profile commercial projects. Given the formidable careers of the jurors, I presumed that they’d respond more positively to a clarity of expression than to a familiar client list.

Can you name any past Young Guns winners who you look up to, whose work you admire or are even inspired by?

There are so many! To name just a few: Christoph Niemann (YG2) provides an outstanding model of the potentials of an illustrative practice; Tomi Um (YG9) creates worlds of fantastic detail and eccentricity with an enviable graphical economy; and the work of Yann Kebbi (YG15) is a wonderfully dizzying nexus between tragicomedy, formlessness, and virtuosity.

What keeps you going, creatively speaking?

An earnest love for what I do, and the promise of getting better at it. I think that I’m driven by the same things that drive anyone - family, friends, love, fun, and new experiences.

Now that you’re a Young Guns winner, what’s next?

Like every other winner, I got here through working preposterously hard, and although this extraordinary award may open new pathways, there’s no reason to believe that the diligence that got us here is now allowed to falter. So - a lot more drawing, the occasional vacation, and hopefully I’ll grow up to become an Old Cannon.

The Young Guns 16 Ceremony & Party takes place on Thursday, November 15 in New York City. 





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