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.
When did Young Guns first pop up on your radar?
Young Guns is an global competition for young creators to show off their energy and enthusiasm. I first heard about Young Guns after I graduated from school and one of my collegues encourged me to enter. At first, I thought it was unthinkable. I changed my mind after seeing the winning work over the years, and I am very eager to step on this international stage and compete with excellent creative people from all over the world. So with a trial mentality, I signed up for this competition.
You're a first-time entrant — congrats! What made you enter this year?
I think the Young Guns age limit of 30 and under motivates people, which also encourages us to continue to create. There are many talented people, and it is necessary for me to set goals for myself to improve and to be seen by others. We need to constantly be challenged to grow.
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 combined personal projects with commercial projects, so as to highlight the diversity of a creative medium.
What went through your mind when you discovered that you won, knowing how difficult it is to make it into Young Guns?
It was amazing. I couldn't believe it at first.
If you had to pick one of the six projects that you entered as your favorite, which one would it be and why?
My favorite project is Transtype A Poster. Transtype is an experimentation project created by Transwhite Studio in 2017. We tried to explore what kind of visual outcomes can be produced under human-generated grid systems based on “Grid System” by Carsten Nicolai. The fonts in Transtype are a collection of ideas and creations from many members of the studio. From manuscripts to digital graphics, to physical products, the creative process and results are very interesting.
If you had to describe your creative style, the part of your work that’s most distinctively “you”, what would it be?
I prefer to use typography and images in creative style. The projects I have done mainly focus on culture and art. On the premise of not interfering with the subjects, I need to strike a balance between self-expression and requirements, so I can use appropriate design language.
Who are some of the biggest influences on your work and career, people who may have had a hand in mentoring and supporting you?
Yu Qiongjie is the person who has the greatest influence on my current career. In addition to being the art director of the studio, she is also the teacher who brought me into the field of graphic design.
Now that you’re in the Young Guns family, are there any past winners you look up to and admire?
NEJC PRAH (YG14), whose works are vivid, crazy and dramatic. Through recombination and distortion of ideas to create images, it gives daily life an extraordinary new experience and it always surprises me.
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?
In the first half of this year, online lectures, exhibitions and courses emerged in large numbers. It lifted the limitation of time and space, and it also allowed people to absorb knowledge and improve themselves anytime and anywhere without leaving home. I attended a lot of online lectures and it was like going back to school.
Name a creative/professional dream that you have yet to fulfill — hey, maybe Young Guns can help propel you in that direction!
I hope I can go abroad to continue my studies, communicate with more people and broaden my horizons. At the same time, I need more personal design practice to enhance my strength.
Any last words about winning Young Guns 18 that you'd like to share?
It’s meaningful to win a prize, which is the recognition of oneself. Most importantly, it means new opportunities and new challenges. Believe in yourself and keep creating.
WORDS FROM THE JURY
"The work of Xiaomei Liu balances between the hard to grasp and experimental and the clear and commercial. Her works seem to be in a constant motion that has yet to settle in its final form. Regardless if it’s a book cover, a visual identity, or graphics for an exhibition, her design stands out as beautiful and progressive."
Partner & Creative Director
"Elegant, surprising, and carefully crafted, this is someone working within and adjacent to traditional design mediums that exhibit a lightness of touch and a strong grasp of contemporary culture. Xiaomei Liu's portfolio merges established Western visual canons with Asian influences to create new interpretations of both. As the internet collapses distances between us all, the speed at which we can see what others in our community are doing – creates opportunities and rich material for those deeply interested in visual cultures. It’s an exciting time to be a designer, as Xiaomei so aptly illustrates."
Brand Design Lead
Young Guns 9 Winner
"Xiaomei’s style and approach towards graphic design is modern yet at the same time classic. Her work is rooted in expression with different styles and outtakes, ranging from big palettes to chopped up, playful type treatment. Xiaomei has her own take on what aesthetics are about and this is represented throughout all of her work. Underneath these expressions we see the most fundamental parts of graphic design, a solid system, making sure of the functionality of her work."
Jens Jørgen Krogsveen
"Xiaomei Liu's work is exquisite. I enjoyed every little detail from the design pieces shared in her presentation. She’s a versatile designer, with a fresh and modern style, and with an esthetic refinement that makes you enjoy the results. Xiaomei moves with confidence in the field of editorial design, standing up with a work full of color and typographic detail, where concept takes the lead."
Creative Director, Type Designer & Co-Founder
Make sure to check out all the Young Guns 18 Winners in the archive!