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.
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL
When did Young Guns first pop up on your radar?
I heard about Young Guns from friends - we were talking about applying for more awards this year and someone told me about Young Guns. Then I discovered that people I admire and who are influential in my work are previous Young Guns winners and I ended up better understanding the weight of the title. To win is a total honor!
You're a first-time entrant — congrats! What made you enter this year?
Today I feel like I have a body of work that I want to show people, because it reflects exactly what I like, what I am, and what I believe. I started making the move to sign up for awards. I think that for some time now I've been seeing more people that look like me winning awards like Young Guns. Winning Young Guns makes me feel like I belong.
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 chose my favorite projects from the last two years that I worked as a freelancer. The freedom that freelancing gave me brought me results much more in line with what I wanted to do and styles I wanted to test. I tried to select the six projects that I had the most fun with and that better represent the type of professional that I am - a person who understands typography enough to skip certain rules and pass positivity through the colorful letterings and illustrations that I like to do.
What went through your mind when you discovered that you won, knowing how difficult it is to make it into Young Guns?
It's like winning an Oscar, right?! A lot of emotions. I read the entire email like three times to see if it was really happening. I even checked if the emails were real. So unreal. It is very rewarding when you get something that confirms you are on the right track and you know that there are people who believe in you and your work.
If you had to pick one of the six projects that you entered as your favorite, which one would it be and why?
The stickers for YouTube. It was my first big international project as a freelancer and it was incredible. I still remember that in the briefing document there was an explanation of why they had chosen me to do the project and it was a beautiful description about enjoying the way I dealt with color and typography in an expressive and smart way without trying too hard to look cool. I didn't see myself like that at the time - I was still doing a lot of projects that had nothing to do with me and what I wanted.
It was a project that helped me to understand my process and to see that I was already building a style. Other people, from other countries, were already seeing my style and understanding what I wanted to do (even though they didn't always know what was written, because at that time most of my letterings were in Portuguese). It was something that helped me to focus on what I really wanted to do. I am grateful to everyone at Anyways, especially Carol Bergin for all her feedback. It is definitely one of my favorite projects and the most important one.
If you had to describe your creative style, the part of your work that’s most distinctively “you”, what would it be?
My process says a lot about my style. I learned lettering by doing it. I'm not one of those people who stay in theory - I'm all about practice. Today I know that I was supposed to use the vector tool to build a perfect "S". The less pressure I have, the more I like the result.
I love it when I find little "mistakes" in my first sketch and when I learned that these "mistakes" made all the difference. I started to leave my mistakes in my work. Imperfect curves. If you can read it and get the message across, it's great.
One thing about my process is that I also like to do things quickly, to visualize where I can go the easiest way. My sketches are very dirty and I like that. It is the rough idea without worries and judgments, and I try to leave as much of that feeling as possible in the final version. If I like it, it's good to go.
Who are some of the biggest influences on your work and career, people who may have had a hand in mentoring and supporting you?
There are two people who helped me the most with my career and my self-knowledge - Wendel Anthuny and Paula Cruz. They helped me in two different ways, but they complement each other.
In addition to being an incredible designer, Wendel is my boyfriend and he helped me to make decisions that were crucial for me to see my potential and to win this award. Two gay black designers coming together with their own insecurities, frustrations, and fears, and serving as support to achieve all of our goals. Paula is my favorite person to draw with- we're gold together. She helped me a lot in the sense of trying new things, cheering for me and supporting me to start combining illustration with lettering. I'm a huge fan of these two people and I wouldn't be so confident today if it weren't for them.
Now that you’re in the Young Guns family, are there any past winners you look up to and admire?
Wow, there are several. I think the Young Guns community is one of the things that made me the most happy to win! To see with my name beside so many wonderful and talented people. Like the iconic Kate Moross (YGX), Andy Rementer (YG10), Jessica Hische (YG7) and Jon Contino (YG9) who have been essential since the beginning of my career as a designer. A few others that directly influence the way I express myself are Zipeng Zhu (YG13), Noemi Le Coz (YG15), Hassan Rahim (YG14), Leta Sobierajski (YG15), Hattie Stewart (YG15) and Skip Dolphin Hursh (YG12). I have a friend crush on all of them.
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?
I finally understand that I have time for everything - I just need to organize myself. I found time for myself to improve my work, to get more clients that I really want work with, to collaborate with people I've dreamed of working with, and to understand more about finances. I was able to get more involved with social causes through exchanges, experiences, and knowledge of life. Of course, all of this was coupled with a lot of therapy to deal with the frustrations and mixed feelings that this year has brought.
Name a creative/professional dream that you have yet to fulfill — hey, maybe Young Guns can help propel you in that direction!
My biggest dream is to have a sneaker signed by me. It would be the greatest achievement of all. Hello Adidas! Hello Nike! I'm here.
Any last words about winning Young Guns 18 that you'd like to share?
To all black creatives out there who are intimidated or who are hoping to have a better portfolio to enter Young Guns, you are not alone. All of these feelings are valid, but we need to occupy these places. Our work needs to be seen and rewarded. Only we know how important it is to be seen.
WORDS FROM THE JURY
"Using unexpected color combinations and striking letterings, LEBASSIS easily takes us into his universe. His work charms me for the genuine way it deals with issues as important as anti-racism and the LGBTQI+ cause."
Graphic Designer and Partner
"I was very delighted to see LEBASSIS’s name in the winners list! His colourful and fresh lettering style had me drawn into his imagery that is honest, vibrant and energetic. His work is passionate while reflecting on his unique vision for society. I can’t wait to see more from LEBASSIS in the future!"
Type Designer and Partner
"The work of LEBASSIS is pure personality. It’s a rush of color, flavor and character. His lettering pieces transmit all these sensations with an enormous visual power, full of perfect-imperfect typographic compositions that, without a doubt, they won’t let him go out unnoticed. Going through his portfolio was inspiring. It surprises with simple letterforms and close messages, making his designs work and at the same time drawing a smile on your face. I’m convinced that the world of design would love to see more from him."
Creative Director, Type Designer & Co-Founder
"LEBASSIS has a very strong aesthetic; his work is super-fun, relatable and memorable. I love how he focuses on important matters like black culture and LGBTQIA+ subjects; you can see his work is not only beautiful, but meaningful. Definitely stands out! Parabéns pelo trabalho, Leandro!"
Young Guns 17 Winner
Make sure to check out all the Young Guns 18 Winners in the archive!