Finding your own voice in the visual arts is a challenge for any young creative, as you learn to transcend your influences and training and develop a personal aesthetic that is wholly yours. The Art Directors Club of New York recognizes the achievements of promising artists under 30 with their annual Young Guns awards, which highlight professional photographers, illustrators, designers, filmmakers, and other visual storytellers carving a unique path in their field.
2014’s ADC Young Guns winners were announced this October, and among the inductees is 2010 Digital Arts & Design graduate Colin Hesterly. Colin got his start in the film and motion graphics industry working at top agencies like Buck, Imaginary Forces, and Royale, before continuing on his own as a freelance writer and director.
His approach to the animated shorts World of Motion, The Mighty T, and When I Grow Up (all three chosen as Vimeo Staff Picks) showcase his refreshing visual taste. The work blends a retro cartoon style with modern technology and animation techniques, and it’s easy to see why his projects have caught the attention of both clients and other artists.
“It took awhile for me to feel like I was saying something of my own as an artist,” Colin says. “At a certain point I realized that I wasn’t pursuing what I liked visually, so I just started playing around with old school visual techniques. I think as funny as it might sound, the way I found my aesthetic is I kind of stopped looking for it. That style just kind of found me.”
Each year’s Young Guns are voted on by a panel of previous winners, with their selected work to be showcased this fall in an exhibition at the ADC Gallery in New York City. For Colin the experience has been a validation of his early decision to trust his creative and professional instincts, even if getting recognition from his contemporaries still comes as a surprise.
“This honor happened at a really nice time for me, and I was completely freaking out when I got the news,” he says. “Especially being inducted with the kind of people that I’ve been looking at for inspiration. I get weak in the knees thinking about that. In some ways I still feel like I am that kid walking into Full Sail as a student. This has all gone so quickly and even with all the work I’ve done I’m still trying to find who I am as an artist.”