MAIPers Make it Happen | Juan Carlos Pagan

Juan Carlos Pagan

maip c/o 2005 | Co-Founder & Creative Director, Sunday Afternoon

The One Club for Creativity reached out to me to see if I wanted design the call or entry campaign, branding and award design for the Young Guns 16 competition. Young Guns recognizes the vanguard of creative professionals 30 years of age and under. Founded in 1996, the portfolio-based competition has grown to become one of the most coveted awards for young creatives around the globe. One of the coolest Young Guns traditions is that its trophy — the highly coveted Young Guns Cube — is redesigned every year by a previous Young Guns winner, making each Young Guns class truly unique. As a past Young Guns winner myself and a huge supporter of the One Club for Creativity I agreed, but only under one condition. I wanted to make the worlds first levitating award. 

Young Guns has always been one of the most exciting and challenging awards for a young creative to win. Each entrant really has to elevate their work to stand out amongst the participants, and so we actually decided to craft our entire campaign around the concept of elevation. I felt that the word represented so much of the Young Guns DNA.

As we thought about the Cube, we wondered how we could translate that concept in the physical award? Well hey, what if it floated? And so we worked towards making it float. My business partner Ahmed Klink and I also gave a great deal of thought to what happens to a trophy after it has been received. Once an award is won, it normally just sits on a shelf somewhere at home or office, admired but collecting dust. We didn't want to create an award that collected dust. We wanted to make an object which not only reminds you of past accomplishments, but serves as a constant reminder to go beyond what's seemingly possible. 

Now conceiving a floating Cube is one thing, but making it a reality is a completely different beast so we enlisted some help. We did some research and connected with the great people over at Crealev in the Netherlands. They had a lot more experience in making things float than we did. We explained to them what we were looking to do, and picked the materials. It had to be light enough to levitate, but also sturdy enough to feel substantial. Each panel of the cube was handcrafted, bent, and welded in a factory so we could put all the floating technology inside and enclose them in a way that was completely seamless. At that point the Cubes had arrived in our New York studio. We had these amazing floating Cubes, but they were completely bare. They were regular aluminum cubes, grey, kinda raw, and pretty ugly-looking. And so we started investigating a few ways to apply our Young Guns branding we created onto the cubes in a way that wouldn’t mess with the technology inside. It turned out that  the best way was to hand-paint each one of them so I slept on the couch in the Sunday Afternoon studio and painted non-stop for a several straight days. 


We are beyond thrilled with how the Cubes came out. It’s a rare thing to have something come to life that is exactly how you had envisioned it in your mind. The YG16 winners are all artists that we admire, and we’re honored that they all have a little something of ours. We hope they enjoy their Cubes, and that it serves as a reminder to keep pushing the boundaries, and elevate their work.