1. PlayLab's Construction Helmet

  2. Rich Tu's Rejection Letters from The New Yorker

  3. Dan Savage's Wrist Guard

  4. Dana Tanamachi's Measuring Tape

Gleaming the Cube

Young Guns X winners Dark Igloo cram 13 years of history into YG13

Young Guns 13 — the global competition for professional creatives 30 years of age and under — is in full swing, with entry deadlines due on March 31 (and yes procrastinators, there’s a ten-day late-fee grace period after that).

For this year’s campaign, creative duties fell upon the dynamic design duo of Dark Igloo, who decided to embrace the competition’s creative diversity and history in a very literal and tactile way.

We caught up with Dark Igloo’s Dave Z. Franzese and Mark Richard Miller to discuss the new Cube, the campaign and how the whole Young Guns community came together to make both happen. 


ADC: How did your idea for both the Young Guns 13 campaign and Cubes begin?

Mark: (laughs) Well it began with us throwing out all of the ideas we had for Young Guns 12. We were stoked to take pictures of ‘dozens’ of things —donuts, eggs, friends.

Dave: (laughs) But seriously, we wanted to get across the feeling we felt when we had won Young Guns ourselves. One of the things that makes Young Guns so special is that it brings together so many creative disciplines. It’s not a graphic design competition or a photography competition, but rather it celebrates creativity across the spectrum. You have programmers and architects and inventors and advertising people all under the Young Guns umbrella. From the beginning we knew we wanted to showcase that diversity.

We also wanted to get across the history of Young Guns. Thirteen years isn’t that long of a period of time, but it’s still incredible to look at some of the earlier inductees, names that just about everyone in our industry recognizes, and see that yes, they are indeed Young Guns, and thus winning one puts you in some pretty remarkable company.

ADC: To tie in with that history and diversity, you had a Young Guns winner from each of the twelve previous years to create their own interpretation of a wordmark. What was it like to get everyone on board?

Dave: It was surprisingly easy. It felt like past winners truly value being part of Young Guns, and they also respect other winners. Everybody was happy to participate and got back to us really quickly with some amazing art.

Mark: The campaign is resonating within the Young Guns community simply because it demonstrates that we are indeed a community. There’s not one stagnant look, but rather a living, breathing creation that’s truly in line with what Young Guns is all about.


Stefan Sagmeister


Christoph Niemann


Scott Teplin




Justin Gignac


Damien Correll


Jessica Hische


Frank Chimero


Jon Contino


Tim Lahan


Will Bryant



ADC: Your campaign has carried on through to the designing of the YG13 Cube. Every year it seems like a challenge to try to top a previous Cube design, from the wood Cube from a few years back to the concrete Cube to the Cubes of YG11 and YG12, which were both transparent but very different from each other. What do you guys have in store?

Dave: Well I don’t think our aim was to beat the earlier Cubes. The creativity behind them not only let us know that the bar has been set very high, but it also informed us that we could get as weird and as experimental as we wanted.

Mark: For this year’s Cube, we’ve been working in partnership with industrial designers Chen&Kai. They have this kind of secret recipe where they embed everyday objects into coasters and keychains and whatnot. In our case, it’s going to be the Cube.

Dave: As we did with the YG13 logos, we wanted to get across the idea that when you win Young Guns, you’re joining thirteen years of people all doing wonderfully diverse things. So what if your Cube included Christoph Niemann’s (YG2) pencil shavings or Rich Tu’s (YG8) paintbrush or some other memento from a past winner? When you win, you will actually have a literal piece of design history in your hand, in the form of all of these objects embedded in a beautifully designed Cube.


ADC: I’m guessing the Young Guns community was just as open with submitting objects as they were logo ideas. What sorts of things did you receive?

Mark: The response has been incredible, every submission came with great stories. We’ve received rejection letters from The New Yorker, wrist guards from people who have literally broken themselves making their work. Dana Tanamachi (YG9) sent the tape measure she used for five years of murals.

Dave: Stefan Sagmeister sent in this antique pocket microscope that looked absolutely beautiful. Faust (YG12) submitted his Yankees cap, and it’s apparent that this was the cap that he had been wearing for all of his graffiti work, because it was the grimiest hat I’d ever seen! (laughs) PlayLab (YG11) sent in one of the first hardhats from their Plus Pool project – a great example of the Young Guns story, when ideas become reality, when side gigs and labors of love become your day job.

Mark: We got some really goofy submissions as well. One person sent in the Altoids tin where he stored his weed all throughout college.

Dave: (laughs) That one can stay anonymous. I swear it wasn’t us.


Mark: But at the end of the day, these Cubes will each tell a story of the legacy that the YG13 winners will find themselves part of later this year. It’s been a challenge, an honor and a pleasure for us to play a part in that story.

ADC Young Guns 13 entries are open until April 10. Shutterstock is an official partner of ADC Young Guns