Highlighting the creative superstars that make up the class of Young Guns 18
2020 has been one rollercoaster of a year, but fortunately, the spirit of creativity can't be dampened. Want proof? Check out the winners of Young Guns 18!
Beginning with our largest and most diverse jury in history, acclaimed creatives from across the globe spent three months reviewing hundreds of submissions from insanely talented young professionals seeking validation for all of their hard work. After narrowing down the field to 83 top-notch finalists, the jury engaged in virtual discussion and debate, deciding who will win one of the most career-impacting honors in our industry.
In the end, we are honored to present the 31 incredible winners of Young Guns 18, a diverse collection of artists, filmmakers, animators, designers, illustrators, and others, all of them representing some of the very best that their fields have to offer.
We invite you to learn about all 31 Young Guns 18 winners in this series of interviews.
ANA PÉREZ LÓPEZ
When did Young Guns first pop up on your radar?
My dearest Angela Stempel and Jamie Wolfe (I like her too) made me do it. So I guess peer pressure. It's great to be recognized and to have a community that acknowledges how hard it is to break into the industry. Frankly, being a nominee/finalist is already quite an achievement.
Congrats on winning Young Guns on your second try! What did you do this time that was different than last year?
I turned 30 this year. Quarantined 30! (There is an article about it in the “read me” section of my website– wink, wink). I did include different work... but I'm not sure. I have more actual industry experience and I included more commissions, but I don’t think that is necessarily a factor. Divine intervention? I would love to hear the jury statement and know what they saw in me! I hope that a witty head and a mighty pen made the sale.
Young Guns is as much an exercise in self-curation as it is in sheer creative talent. After all, you are only allowed to submit six projects. How did you go about deciding which pieces to submit and which to leave out?
I wish I could give a good answer for this to help future Young Guns (and Old Guns), but I'm not sure I can. The category "animation" is really broad– what are they looking at? Indie films where ideas shine? Technical brilliance? Style? 3D? 2D? Cel? Stop Motion? All of this is animation and all of it's very different.
I tried to stick with what felt the most like me. I chose work that showed my personality. Animation comes from the Latin word "anima" (soul). Etymologically, animating is giving soul to something. I tried to chose the pieces with the most soul.
What went through your mind when you discovered that you won, knowing how difficult it is to make it into Young Guns?
It was great! Being a finalist was surprising enough, I know many finalists with lives I'd love to live. It's an amazing push to keep on going.
If you had to pick one of the six projects that you entered as your favorite, which one would it be and why?
It's one of the ones that I can't share yet. However, I will talk about it and have you drooling. Right before lockdown I was working on a little short promoting sustainable traveling (the release is on hold because traveling is cancelled due to Covid-19). It's seven animators and seven stories, from seven continents. Already a concept dear to my heart and part of a collective effort.
I got to do North América. I connected with a friend that I met back while I was in an exchange program in Santa Cruz (UCSC) eight years ago. Sonjia biked from Seattle to Santa Cruz with little preparation with Sayla. I got to reconnect with them, but I also feel a little of the freedom that she describes. Her words take me back to the magic of Santa Cruz's redwoods. Don’t let them burn people.
Animating is really hard. Your back hurts, you get carpal tunnel, and your vision is at the mercy of art directors and clients, but when you find an ineffable reason to do it, a little magic gets baked in the render.
If you had to describe your creative style, the part of your work that’s most distinctively “you”, what would it be?
I am what we call in Spain a "culo inquieto." I pour my heart, soul, and some health into the task in front of me. Postulating that a "good style" should be an extension of who you are... Mine can't possibly be consistent. I'm Spanish, but I've found myself everywhere: Madrid, Los Angeles, Santa Cruz, Santiago, and London. All of these are places I call home. Each city changed me in a way, and there is a little of each city in the soles of my shoes and the souls of my work.
Also, I am a journalist and an animator/illustrator/designer and the interactions of all these things make me who I am. In a way, consistency and Ana Pérez López are a bit oxymoronic. I do find myself using typography often– I like using patterns and a hand-drawn look. A mix of flat and isometric perspective and contrasting scales to drive eyes, are some of my usual tropes. My work is sometimes naive but I think everything has a little edge or a visceral twist. Accessible, but with a pinch of chilli flakes. Weird in the best way!
Who are some of the biggest influences on your work and career, people who may have had a hand in mentoring and supporting you?
I'm really happy to admit that I don't fully own any of my achievements. My family has been extremely supportive all my life and I've been really lucky to have come across wonderful people throughout the first years of my career. This is going to be long but it's your fault for asking!
Before being an animator, I used to intern in EFE News (a news agency) in Chile. Although I had a lot of fun and got to cover amazing things like a general election, the Lollapalooza Festival or Joe Biden’s visit to Bachelet, I felt like journalism could be more creative. My first editor and mentor, Nelson Sandoval, used to tell me that I managed to put a human twist to every article I wrote. I wondered if I could do that with moving illustrations.
To graduate with the MA that took me to Chile, I did a badly designed website that explored how women were excluded from the editorial pages of newspapers. I talked with many editorial cartoonists like Liza Donnelley, amazing journalist Mary Pilon, and Pulitzer Prize Winner, Ann Telnaes, who studied animation at CalArts. I also met and interviewed Miguel Gallardo who was kind enough to have dinner with me and encouraged me to draw without learning.
Now that you’re in the Young Guns family, are there any past winners you look up to and admire?
I admire so many of the Young Guns: Dan Savage (YGX), Sean Buckelew (YG14), VERONICA FUERTE (YG7) (All Caps-I really wanted last year's cube), Sophie Koko Gate (YG16), Paul Windle (YG10), Jorge Canedo Estrada (YG12), Colin Hesterly (YG12), and Braulio Amado (YG13).
It goes without saying that 2020 has been a pretty crazy year, with a global pandemic and social upheaval shaping so many facets of our lives. Aside from the positive news of winning Young Guns, how has this year been for you?
The day I turned 30 I was informed that I was at risk of being redundant. Hence, I suffered a Russian doll of crises. I'm a firm believer that some good comes out of every bad thing, and I put myself in "looking for work" mode. I applied to The Economist for a fellowship.
In the end, I wasn't redundant and I actually got somewhat promoted to "Brand Illustrator". However, The Economist ended up offering me a full-time position. I hope that with time and work I'll grow with them as a brilliant designer.
Name a creative/professional dream that you have yet to fulfill — hey, maybe Young Guns can help propel you in that direction!
I would love to make an animated cover for The New Yorker. Maybe I'll move into art direction for media and help shape the visual language of journalism by including animated voices, but I feel that that is a dream for Old Gun Ana.
For now, I want work that allows me to have creative input, so that in the future I can move into creative roles. An MTV indent would be nice, an Adult Swim Rick and Morty short would make my aura twinkle... Also I want to do more editorial illustration work.
I would love to make a graphic novel one day and it seems like a good starting point. Oh! and I want to finish the short I started where my fictional versions of Koolhaas and Jane Jacobs discuss city design and gentrification with a very good boy.
Any last words about winning Young Guns 18 that you'd like to share?
It's hard to be inspirational without sounding like an S Club 7 song ("Don't Stop, Never Give Up, Hold Your Head High and Reach The Top"), but I'm not sure that there isn't some wisdom in just that. Keep going, and find the people that will keep you going. Be nice, ask for help, and try to leave your country if you can. No amount of Pinterest searches can make up for actually seeing the world. Roots and wings are the real common denominators of all my favorite creatives.
On Shout Outs: Mom, Dad, Sis, Cat, nephews, family, friends and teachers. Former, current (Dr. Peter O'Neill) and future partners (hopefully still Dr. Peter O'Neill).
Lastly, I would like to specially point out Javier G. Entonado, my high school biology teacher who would give us weird films, Cd's and the license to be whatever we wanted.
P.S. Just in case, English is not my first language.
WORDS FROM THE JURY
"Animation was one of the toughest ones to judge. So many entrants showed amazing skills and original artistic thinking. Ana Pérez López stood out for me not just with great illustrations, not just with unique style but also with how she builds up the visual story. The way animations follow the narrative is quite impressive. My personal favourite is “Las del Diente” animated short where amazing design and illustrations meet experiments with shapes and forms featuring a simple yet to-the-point storytelling."
"Ana is a master animation director. Her talent is organic. She designs her films with iconic, elegantly orthographic compositions while playing in the abstracts of story, challenging her audience to see the world in a more playfully mature, more future female, original way. "
"There is a timelessness to her work and it lacks the superficiality of social media trends. Her pursuit to be authentic and keep true to her vision to tell narratives which aren’t mainstream is brave even by today's more open minded standards. Beyond this, her work has a confidence which is entirely a combination of an artist who has an incredible vision and one who is willing to challenge the status quo. "
Director / Concept Artist
Young Guns 11 Winner
"Ana Pérez López's animation exudes adventure and fun. Her limited palettes and minimal shapes are playful and expressive, and the work takes us on a journey through each story she tells."
Make sure to check out all the Young Guns 18 Winners in the archive!