Skip Dolphin Hursh: Second Time’s the Charm

ADC Young Guns 12 winner scores big on his second attempt


March is ADC Young Guns Month here on the ADC Blog! As we head towards the deadline for Young Guns 13 entries, we will be featuring the works and thoughts of Young Guns 12, the latest class to join the exclusive club of young creative professionals. We will also be sharing the thoughts of the judges who voted them in. This way, you’ll have some idea of what it takes to become a Young Gun — and the answers just might surprise you.

 Not every Young Guns winner makes it in on his or her first try. Our first Young Gun of the week is an animator and designer who made the cut on his second attempt ± blowing away the judges with his playful yet polished body of work.



Brooklyn, NY, USA



When did you first hear about Young Guns? 

I can’t remember when I first heard about it, but I remember that it kept coming up that so many of my favorite designers and illustrators had been a part of Young Guns, which got me more interested in following the community, going to talks, and finding out about more interesting creative people. I entered once before but made it in the second time.

What were your impressions of the competition before entering?

I really liked the fact that the criteria involved in Young Guns is more loose, about the total picture of your work, both from an applied commercial standpoint and a self-directed experimental standpoint. I never felt like I clearly fit into any one category and have been that guy who uses five or six different terms to describe what it is that I do. It felt like Young Guns supported that way of operating.

There are lots of big names among the list of past Young Guns winners. Did you ever think that maybe you weren’t good enough to join them? How did you overcome that feeling?

Of course! I think that’s a lot of what makes it so compelling, that it’s a group of people with amazing work, many of whom now have been Young Guns winners for many years and have produced loads of great work since winning. It doesn’t mean you’re the best ever, or are as good as the rest of the previous winners yet, but it means your work is really good already and shows a lot of potential at a young age.

How did you decide which pieces to submit? Was it a no-brainer or did you have to really think about your entry?

I submitted less work on my second entry and made sure each piece was pretty different. It was also split about 50/50 personal work and commercial work.

“… I remember that it kept coming up that so many of my favorite designers and illustrators had been a part of Young Guns…”

Tell us what it was like when you found out you won.

It was pretty surreal and hard to accept, honestly, because self-criticism and creative dissatisfaction are such a driving force in pushing my work forward and keeping me interested in what I’m doing. It’s weird to have a stamp of approval from a group of people you look up to, validating your own work in a way that you can’t really do yourself. There’s an increased level of confidence but it also raises the bar.

Which past Young Guns winners do you admire most?

I’m lucky to be working at Tumblr with one of my favorite designer/illustrators, Damien Correll (YG6), and previously the awesome Dan Blackman (YG9). I started my career working for Dress Code (YG5), which was an an invaluable experience. I’m also a huge fan of Dark Igloo (YGX), Mike Perry (YG6), Andy Rementer (YGX), Will Bryant (YG11), and Elizabeth Weinberg (YG9).

What have you been up to since winning? Has Young Guns opened up any new doors for you since winning last fall?

’ve gained a bit more “internet fame”, but I’ve also noticed more projects coming my way that are not something I have an example of ever having done before. There seems to be more confidence from clients that I can figure it out.

What would you tell someone who was deciding whether or not to enter Young Guns 13?

It couldn’t hurt!


ivancashcircle“Skip has such a fun portfolio, it’s impossible not to smile while looking at all of the different colors, shapes, lines, & animations. It stood out to me because his work borders the fine line between being playful/experimental and professional/polished. Few portfolios have such a keen sense of optimism and exploration. I’m looking forward to see what Skip comes up with next.”

Ivan Cash



daekigloocircle“Everything Skip makes has an incredibly unique and nuanced sense of motion … you can tell an animation is his just from the way things wobble, sway and transform. On top of that, his sense of design jumped off the screen: nothing else we saw during judging looked like his work. Classic and contemporary – I feel like you could hang a screen with one of his gifs next to a Stuart Davis painting and it’d be right at home. His entry nailed the perfect balance of professional accomplishments and personal explorations, and his middle name was the cherry on top.”

Dave Z Franzese (Dark Igloo)




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