29-year-old Sekani Solomon was among 28 creatives who made the final cut for the 17th edition of the world-renowned Young Guns Awards.
The elite programme, whose entrants comprised of animators, designers, photographers, illustrators, film directors and editors from 45 countries around the world, recognises the vanguard of creative professionals who are 30 years of age and under.
This year, over 500 creatives applied to the highly competitive awards, judged by a panel of over 60 respected creatives over a 2-month period. Founded in 1996 by One Club for Creativity, the portfolio-based competition is seen by many industry leaders as a sure sign of a skyrocketing career and has grown to become one of the most sought-after awards for young technology creatives around the globe.
This year’s honorees were recognized at a ceremony on November 20 in New York City, where 28 superstars received this year’s version of the Young Guns Cube.
“Your portfolio is your passport that allows you to get into bigger companies and more coveted projects”— Sekani Solomon
Solomon, who is a Senior Motion Designer, said that it was a “great feeling” to be the first Trinbagonian to be included in the finalist roster for Animation, particularly because the selection is usually a sign of a rising star in the industry.
“In my experience in Trinidad and Tobago, Art and Design hasn’t necessarily been seen as a viable pathway to success. Reflecting on my childhood growing up in Tobago, it’s surreal to think how far I’ve come in my career,” he told BUZZ.
He added that winning this award is not only essential to trying to change the general mindset of design not being important but also noted that this accomplishment brings awareness to the many ‘alternate’ career paths that exist for Caribbean creatives.
“Past Young Guns winners have gone on to be some of the most recognisable names in the industry today. I’ve always believed that your portfolio is your passport that allows you to get into bigger companies and more coveted projects, and that mindset has led me to incredible opportunities,” he notes.
“Reflecting on my childhood growing up in Tobago, it’s surreal to think how far I’ve come in my career”
Gordon Jee, a notable designer and a past winner of Young Guns who was called for jury duty for this year’s competition, described Solomon as a brilliant storyteller with a firm grasp of his craft.
“His work stood out in ways that made me excited when I viewed his entries: the exquisite interplay of textures, the strength of the silhouettes chosen to capture maximum drama, and the diverse sources of imagery he integrates effortlessly into his animations,” he explained.
“Past Young Guns winners have gone on to be some of the most recognisable names in the industry today”
In addition to receiving the acclaimed YG17 Award, some of Solomon’s career achievements include winning an Outstanding Main Title Primetime Emmy Award for “Manhattan”, releasing a new short film entitled “Hidden” and working on the main titles for the record-breaking, multiple award-winning Marvel Cinematic Universe film “Black Panther”, starring fellow Tobagonian Winston Duke who plays “M’Baku”.
Currently, as the 3D lead over at Cash App, Solomon shows no signs of slowing down and hopes to continue to use his design skill set to elevate brands that he will work with.
“The community is filled with awesome people willing to help you to get to the next level.”— Sekani Solomon
“I’m working on a Star Wars short that I plan to release in the next few weeks, so this is also a very exciting personal achievement for me as well.” He encourages emerging Caribbean-based designers to focus on the work and make it outstanding.
“Network and get to know your creative peers. The community is filled with awesome people willing to help you to get to the next level, but this will not be possible if you can’t do the work.”
Tenille Clarke is an avid wanderlust, Carnivalist and cultural enthusiast who pens about her ongoing love affair with travel, culture and entertainment through a Caribbean lens. She is the Principal Publicist of Chambers Media Solutions and Managing Director of Industry 360. @tenilleclarke1 on Instagram/Twitter.