ADC’s Young Guns Prepare for Battle

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[Editor’s note: In the spirit of fairness, we asked Justin Gignac, the ADC’s Young Guns committee chairman, to respond to August Heffner’s earlier post lamenting the combative nature of the competition’s call for entries campaigns. Below is his reply.]


By Justin Gignac

As chairman of the Young Guns committee and a former winner (YG5) I feel an obligation to reply to August Heffner’s recent post criticizing the Art Directors Club’s Young Guns 9 call for entries campaign. I absolutely agree that a culture of forced long hours and sacrificing personal life for work is no way to live (and definitely not a way for any creative to strive), but I disagree that we’re promoting that mentality.

“You fight for your work. Now it fights for you” is about rewarding all of the time and hard work young creatives have put into their projects – both personal and professional. It uses metaphorical imagery of people in battle to encourage creatives to let their work fight it out with the best in the world. This is an entertaining way to bring the creative struggle to life and just a good excuse to wear fake blood and jump on trampolines.

Above and below: Young Guns 9 poster designed by Nessim Higson and photographed by Brady Fontenot.

Yes, late nights are one battle we mentioned on our poster because it’s relatable, but it’s not a standard to judge work by. This definitely isn’t a timesheet competition. We all “fight” for our work in different ways – through late nights, stress, insecurity, clients, whatever. I’ve probably pulled more all-nighters on my personal projects than I ever have at an agency. And it has everything to do with my own ambition and desire to express my artistic vision.

Most of the Young Guns I know work compulsively because they’re committed to their project and love what they do. They’re obsessive noodlers and perfectionists. Those details excite them and sometimes that enthusiasm manifests itself in staying up til 4AM editing a video or designing a website. Nessim Higson (YG5), the creator the Young Guns 9 campaign, and photographer Brady Fontenot have worked tirelessly on this effort because they’re passionate about the work. You can see that same passion in the portfolios of the Young Guns winners. We’re not telling people to work harder, we’re celebrating their hard work.

People like Stefan Sagmeister, James Victore, Deanne Cheuk, Christoph Niemann, Julia Hoffmann, Andrew Zuckerman, Tom Kuntz, Peter Buchanan-Smith and Jessica Hische (all past winners) didn’t get where they are today because someone told them they had to sit at a desk for 20 hours a day. Young Guns winners have created their own success through hard work and dedication. They’re people I admire and feel lucky to be in the company of.

The ADC Young Guns is the only global, cross-disciplinary portfolio competition. It exists not only to find the best young talent, but to unite them as well. We want designers to befriend photographers who befriend copywriters who befriend illustrators and film makers and architects and interactive designers. It’s the antithesis of an “only socialize with your co-workers” attitude, we’re all about inspiring creativity and an orgy of multidisciplinary collaborations.

At the end of the day, this is a campaign for a competition. It’s about fighting to be one of the 50 best young creatives in the world. It seems worth putting in a few extra hours for that.

Young Guns 8 poster designed by Justin Gignac.

Young Guns 7 poster ("Words are Pictures"), designed by Craig Ward.

Party Like a Young Gun!The Young Gun kickoff party, poetically titled “A Young Guns Parade and Funeral March for Fighters and Lovers,” is this Thursday night from 7-11pm at the ADC Gallery. It will feature live rock n’ roll by Nihiti and a DJ set by The Surveyor. The “fight” theme will be brought to life by the Gorgeous Ladies of Bloodwrestling.Tickets can still be be purchased at

Click here to enter and learn more about the Young Gun program.