Young Guns 19: Gabriela Namie
By Alixandra Rutnik and Brett McKenzie on Oct 27, 2021
Featuring the creative stars of Young Guns 19
A year and a half of uncertainty across the creative industry and beyond has finally given way to a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel — a spotlight with a great big "YG19" standing in the middle of it. After more than 70 acclaimed creatives from around the world and across a multitude of disciplines reviewed hundreds of submissions, whittling them down to a formidable finalist list, we can finally reveal the phenomenal winners of Young Guns 19!
This year, we welcome a diverse class of 32 inductees into the exclusive Young Guns family, a collection of young creative talent that is already near the top of their game — and will only get better. These are the designers, the art directors, the illustrators, the filmmakers, the animators, the multidisciplinary artists whose names you'll want to know — if you aren't already following their every move, that is.
Ahead of the Young Guns 19 Ceremony + Party taking place on Wednesday, November 17 — our first in-person event since the pandemic began — we are featuring the future legends who will be stepping into the spotlight that evening.
New York City, New York
São Paulo, Brazil
When did you first hear about Young Guns?
When I moved to New York City my coworkers would talk about Young Guns and the amazing designers that were part of its alumni. Although I didn’t care about awards, Young Guns felt different because it highlighted work I was actually inspired by and recognized people I looked up to. I was 26 at the time I first heard about it and wondered if I would ever feel confident enough to apply. I am happy I did.
Since you’ve entered before, what did you do differently this time around that may have pushed you into the winners’ circle?
I applied to Young Guns two times before and this was my last year to apply. I wasn’t sure if I should or not, but I am glad my friends encouraged me to enter. This time, I put more thought into which projects represented me as a designer.
I was able to work on a wider range of projects and push my skills to different types of media, reach, and constraints. I strive to be better at my practice and I like to think I learn a bit everyday.
Since you are only allowed to submit six projects, how did you decide which pieces were best to enter and truly reflected you and your work?
I was indecisive between some projects. In the end, I selected the ones that best represent me as a designer. They address problems I care about through a combination of systematic creative thinking and culture.
How did you celebrate when you found out you won Young Guns?
I was in Vermont on my last bike ride before coming back to New York when my friend called me and told me I was a finalist. Finishing the ride knowing this news was an amazing feeling. When I received the email about making it into Young Guns, I was in a meeting so I had to keep a straight face, but I celebrated later by eating a burger and drinking wine.
"When I received the email about making it into Young Guns, I was in a meeting so I had to keep a straight face, but I celebrated later by eating a burger and drinking wine."
If you had to pick one of the six projects that you entered as your favorite, which one would it be and why?
I am unsure if I can answer this question without regret. I am proud of the work I did for YouTube Music to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Its graphic choices represent my expanded and unfinished views of the world.
As a fourth generation Japanese woman in Brazil, I grew up around Japanese traditions, so the duality between Brazil and Japan never felt complex to me– I never felt less Brazilian because of it.
After I moved to New York, my racial identity became a much louder part of my interactions and it was interesting for me to learn when I was perceived as a “Latina” or as an “Asian.”
Suddenly my identity became a bit more complex and “interesting.” I started putting more thought into the concept of one’s identity and I still am. I talked to friends about their Asian experiences in the United States and I loved exploring this part of our shared identity, while still acknowledging the unrealistic broad bucket of the term “Asian” itself.
I worked on several iterations of that project and never showed them to anyone. They are my failed attempts to represent the multiplicity of Asian narratives across the continent. It is naive to think this can be done anyway, but the last iteration of that design felt closer to what I was trying to accomplish.
If you had to describe your creative style, the part of your work that’s most distinctively “you,” what would it be?
I am definitely type-driven, but style can be a limiting force for me, especially when working in branding projects. I prefer to approach it as a way of thinking rather than being guided by specific visual elements. My concepts and visual ideas usually start taking shape by researching the history and context related to a given project. They change and adapt depending on the project’s target, goals, and media and technical constraints.
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 am constantly in awe of my friends in many ways: Felipe Rocha, Leo Porto, Heejae Kim, Emily Simms, and more who continue to inspire me daily. I learned from everyone I’ve worked with and I have a strong admiration for the work of Herb Lubalin.
Now that you’re in the Young Guns family, are there any past winners you look up to and admire?
So many, but some of them include Leo Porto, Eric Hu, Tracy Ma, Damien Correll, Braulio Amado, Nejc Prah, and Laila Gohar. Their work is really fresh and distinct in their own field.
The pandemic of 2020 is slowly starting to taper a bit, so do you have any big goals moving forward into 2022?
I’d love to find more positive and impactful ways to use my design skills. Personally, it’s been a goal of mine to go on a 2,000 km bike trip.
Name a professional dream that you have yet to fulfill — hey, maybe Young Guns can help propel you in that direction!
I don’t have specific professional dreams. My happiness comes from learning, changing, staying in the present, and making decisions once they arrive. I have been dedicating time on my calendar offering free portfolio reviews and general design advice.
These experiences make me think more about the issues of design and inclusion, and the education system. I'd love to work on something related to inclusion, but I am still planning on how this can become a reality.
Any final thoughts?
Best piece of advice: “Just leave it.” I love design, but there are a lot more important things in the world. If getting to a high quality of design will negatively impact me or someone’s health and well-being, it is not worth it. And my life motto is, “This is my time. Am I enjoying it?”
Go check out all the Young Guns 19 Winners in the archive!