The Imposter In You

Young Guns 11 winner Lauren Indovina opens up about insecurity and creativity ahead of this year's competition


The deadline for entries for Young Guns 15 is fast approaching, with submissions due on Monday, July 31. And while we’ve already received entries from across the globe, we’ve also sensed pangs of doubt within the creative community. We’ve heard from some young creatives whose work is clearly stellar, but they fear that they aren’t good enough.

Meet Lauren Indovina. Lauren is an LA-based director, concept artist and writer. She’s also one of this year’s esteemed Young Guns jury members, but more importantly, she’s a past Young Guns winner, having been accepted into this growing collective of creatives in 2013. And if you feel that you are all alone in your insecurities, Lauren can reassure you that nearly everyone has been there before — especially herself.


LaurenIndovina2017-ForADC-FINALWhen I was sixteen years old, I felt like a real winner. After all, I had so many gold Scholastic Art Awards. I slayed at all of the Pittsburgh high school art competitions. I was kind of a big deal.

I attended the Rhode Island School of Design, one of the most competitive art institutions in the world — no sweat off this brilliant mind’s back. I approached RISD like an athlete trains for the Olympics. And more gold medals were won.

Now there was a reason for all of this goofy competitive drama; being a talented young artist was my identity. The hard hidden truth behind my outward facing confidence was that I was lonely and insecure. I saw my worth only as an artist with a vision and a belief in what I was doing.

After graduating at the top of my class, things changed — and not for the better. I was quickly hired, but I was told that my competitive personality was too much in the professional setting, I felt like my identity as a successful artist had been taken away from me. My fearless innocence and unrelenting optimism was gone.

I fell into a brutal void of insecurity, and I developed what you call the ‘imposter’s syndrome’ — the knowledge that people might find out you’re not good enough. I started to hold myself back, taking bad jobs because I felt like I didn’t deserve better ones. I had no identity, no career, and no friends.

“I fell into a brutal void of insecurity, and I developed what you call the ‘imposter’s syndrome’ — the knowledge that people might find out you’re not good enough.”

And then in a serendipitous turn of events, I met some people at Motionographer, a popular industry site. Some of these people were first class designers, “famous” in our industry. And beyond that, these people were also known as YOUNG GUNS, having been proven talented enough to be part of this special class of creative professionals. “Lauren you’re awesome, you have to apply to Young Guns,” they told me. “I need to get better,” I said. I didn’t feel ready.

One day, I received a call from Psyop, an acclaimed production house; a Young Guns winner had recommended me and my work. Within a week I was staff at what was arguably the best motion design and animation studio in the world. But instead of feeling pride, I was anxious. I was afraid of the thought that they’d figure out that I was an imposter.



And so, after a bit of proverbial soul searching, I decided to finally apply to Young Guns, in hopes of eradicating that fear. My website was boring, quiet, hiding from anything which would expose my fragile self worth to the world. Solid work, lodged in an unspectacular presentation.

I was 26 at the time.

I didn’t make it.

What if Psyop found out? Would they finally realize I was a failure pile, not worthy to be graced by their magical presence?

That following year I worked like a beast. I won a crap ton of great work for Psyop. That work won awards. My designs got better and I, faster. I became one of their most valued and versatile designers. I was asked to be one of their directors.

After that year of work, I decided to enter Young Guns again. The deadline gave me momentum — I built a new site with intent, clarity and new work.

I got in.

At the Young Guns 11 awards ceremony, I had a chance to meet other winners, both in my class as well as past winners in attendance. Behind all of the crazy celebration, I instantly learned that there was a natural camaraderie within this eclectic group of talented individuals, a club within a club.

“Behind all of the crazy celebration, I instantly learned that there was a natural camaraderie within this eclectic group of talented individuals…”

After winning Young Guns, the Art Directors Club became a huge part of my career and creative community. Talking to others within that community, I realized that we all felt like imposters and it was those insecurities which propelled us. I didn’t feel I needed to prove that I was good. I wasn’t worried if they thought I was bad. I was a Young Guns winner. I have a Cube with my name on it.

The point of Young Guns isn’t to win the award. The real award is becoming more confident, fearless, exposed, recognized for your craft and identity as a professional. The true reward is accepting that you are possibly more talented and more respected than you thought.


Young Guns 15 is a global portfolio competition for young creatives 30 years of age and under with a minimum of two years of professional experience. The deadline for submissions is July 31, 2017.