Young Guns

Young Guns is a portfolio competition awarding creative professionals 30 years and under, including designers, illustrators, entrepreneurs, and more!

2020: Let's face it — this was not going to be a normal year for anybody in the creative community. COVID-19 has affected everyone in ways great and small, but we knew that Young Guns 18 would carry on. After all, this is an award that honors a young creative's body of work over multiple years, not just what could be done over Zoom and with social distancing. And so the call for entries was opened in June, and the global response far surpassed expectations that had been muted by the pandemic.

Believing that diversity breeds diversity, this year's Young Guns jury was expanded to include more than 80 creatives from around the world and across many cultures and disciplines. With the usual split between past Young Guns winners who know firsthand of the glory this accolade brings, alongside other respected professionals bringing their own unique perspectives, the jury spent nearly three months going over hundreds of submissions. After multiple rounds of scoring, they settled on a finalist list of 83 entrants, all leading to spirited discussions that resulted in this year's class of 31 new inductees into the Young Guns family.

Alas, the raucous New York awards ceremony that is a hallmark of the Young Guns experience was not to be this year, but we still managed to salute the Young Guns 18 class virtually, from wherever they are in the world.

Young Guns 18

Michelle Watt


Michelle Watt is a Hong Kong-born photographer currently based in Brooklyn, NY. She specializes in staging conceptual narratives with a whimsical flair, often addressing themes of freedom and restriction within cultural identity.

As an immigrant growing up in America, she was often ridiculed as a foreigner and took solace in assembling 1000-piece jigsaw puzzles that allowed her a sense of control. “I became obsessed with assembling tiny details into larger pictures. It made me feel like, no matter how tiny a piece I was, I could ultimately be part of a grander story upon which I might have an impact one day."

As a result, her work often engenders stories about the female minority experience, with the aim of giving life to unique standards of beauty and culture, including ones informed by her Chinese American background. She finds joy in assembling tiny discrete pieces to create vast meaningful worlds, embedding hidden ‘Easter eggs’ as varying social commentary throughout her work.

Her photographs have been published in The New York Times, USA Today and Blanc Magazine. Her commercial clients include Cadillac, The North Face, LG and Arcteryx.




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