Young Guns Reflections: Gemma O’Brien

Looking back with past Young Guns winners


Happy July! The weather is getting hot, and so is the Young Guns 15 action around The One Club For Creativity. With just over three weeks until the entry deadline, we’ve already had tons of young creatives from Ghana to Greece begin their submission processes. 

We’ve also noticed that we’ve received a number of submissions from the land Down Under. Could young Australian creatives be inspired by Sydney-based letterer, illustrator and typographer Gemma O’Brien? Gemma had already been making Bondi Beach-sized waves in her native land, and after being named a Young Guns 13 winner in 2015, her star has shined even brighter on the global stage, even earning herself a n esteemed position on the Design Jury for the ADC 96th Annual Awards this past spring.

We asked Gemma to share her thoughts on Young Guns, to help inspire this year’s potential winners, both in Australia and around the globe.


GemmaHeadshotGEMMA O’BRIEN
Letterer, Illustrator & Typographer
Sydney, Australia
Young Guns 13 Winner


What does being a Young Guns winner mean to you?

It was a great honor to join a group of esteemed creatives who’s worked I’d admired for years.

What made you want to enter Young Guns in the first place?

The Young Guns competition was always in my sights since the beginning of my design career. One year, I gathered all my work together, but then missed the deadline. As I edged closer to turning 30, I knew it was time to get my act together! In retrospect, I’m glad I waited an extra year as my folio was a lot stronger and unique to me.

Why is it so important to recognize the creative excellence of young professionals?

The advertising and design world is a competitive space – even more so now with the advent of social media. I think it’s really important to recognize creative excellence of young professionals in the early stages of their career. You can come up with some of your best ideas and work when you’re young. It’s often a time where you’re more experimental and ahead of the curve. Any encouragement to continue along this path is a positive.

In your experience, how has being a part of this vibrant, creative Young Guns community helped you in your career?

I always thought of the Young Guns as a benchmark for success. It’s a creative community that is actively creating good work and trying to push the boundaries in their practice. I think the best part of being a part of this group is the wider sense of community – I spend a lot of time working in my studio, so when I travel and meet a fellow Young Guns winner, I always seem to have an instant design-buddy.

What’s the coolest project you’ve worked on that came as a result of being a Young Guns winner?

I’m not sure there was a single project, but becoming a Young Guns winner definitely showcased my work on the world stage and led to a variety of amazing projects. I also won the Levine/Leavitt Artist-In-Residence Award that year, and I continue to work with them today.

What advice would you give to potential Young Guns 15 entrants with regards to how to craft your entry and what it takes to win?

I think it’s important to select work which showcases your craft and mastery within your discipline but is also unique to you – a folio which has your own voice.

Entering Young Guns is an amazing way to give a boost to your career and join a group of esteemed artists and creatives from around the world. Why not enter? Also, I hear the party is pretty good!

Young Guns 15 is now open for entries. The deadline for submissions is July 31, 2017.