DesignFeature

.net Awards 2011: top 10 young designers

The voting stage of the .net Awards 2011 is kicking off today and to get things going we profile the top 10 young designers, who are all under 21 years of age. Here are the rising stars who’ll give the old hats a run for their money in the years to come

This year the .net Awards feature a few new categories. We're always blown away by how young some of the people on showcase sites like Dribbble and Forrst are, so we've decided to honour some new blood with 'Young Designer of the Year', sponsored by BaseKit.To be eligible, candidates needed to be under 21 years of age and have made a name for themselves in web/app design over the last 12 months.

This year the .net Awards feature a few new categories. We're always blown away by how young some of the people on showcase sites like Dribbble and Forrst are, so we've decided to honour some new blood with 'Young Designer of the Year', sponsored by BaseKit.

To be eligible, candidates needed to be under 21 years of age and have made a name for themselves in web/app design over the last 12 months.

Based on your nominations, we've drawn up a list of 10 young talents between 14 and 20, and asked them to tell us a little bit more about themselves. They've also all provided a screenshot of a website they've worked on this year.

You've got until 30 September to cast your vote, which will whittle down the list to a top three. Then our industry judges will vote and the winner will be announced on 17 November.

So, here they are, in alphabetical order:

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1. Aaron Moody

pic of aaron moody

Age: 20
Based in: North East, UK
Started designing websites aged: 15
Clients: JackTheFlipper, FreelanceStudents, petersonauto, YWAM, imgspin, VamBush, Everybeat
Education: I taught myself to design. However, I do have a college design degree (BTEC National Diploma in interactive media and A level Graphic Design)
My web design idols: Josh Hemsley, Rogie King, Jeff Broderik, James McDonald, Michael Heald
Online: aaronmoody.co.uk and @Imaaronmoody

.net: What have you been working on this year? And what's been your proudest moment?
AM: 2011 has been my best year yet, I've worked on many exiting projects, from online communities to mobile apps. I was also able to land a full-time design position, straight out of college at a top local agency. Still, I’d have to say that my proudest moment would be getting nominated for this award!

.net: What advice do you have for aspiring web designers?
AM: Don't get into web design, or design as a whole, unless you’re 100 per cent dedicated and passionate about it. You’ll have to give up a lot of your time to get better and yes, your social life will suffer for this. But the reward that you get back, when you gain praise from the design community, is a great feeling. Keep working and strive to get better each year/month/week! Don't always look for approval from your design peers. If you like what you’ve created and it meets your client's brief, then that's all that really matters.

I've been working on a job board, specifically for students. Here you can see the list of students who have applied for a position. The payment option allows you (as the employer) to unlock credits, to contact students

2. Ben Bate

Age: 15
Based in: Plymouth, UK
Started designing websites aged: 14
Clients: Leon Doyle (The Apprentice), Nightclub Network, Carolina West Wireless, Fred Acler (DJ), Grind to Shine (music network), Basketball Breakdown, Devonport High School for Boys, South Head Engineering Services Ltd
Education: Self-taught
My web design idols: Brian Hoff, Fabio Sasso, Chris Coyier
Online: benbate.com and @ben_bate

.net: What have you been working on this year? And what's been your proudest moment?
BB: I have only this year began to market myself as a freelance designer. Prior to this year, I spent my time running, buying and selling design blogs to earn money as well as to develop my skills both as a designer and a developer. I’m now getting an influx of design work from many exciting clients from around the world. This week, I’m attending work experience at a leading local design company, which is proving to be very exciting. As for my proudest moment so far, it would have to be designing for Leon Doyle, a candidate from this years’ The Apprentice.

.net: What advice do you have for aspiring web designers?
BB: Well, I’m only just starting out myself, so I’m not really in a position to say. I would however, like to stress the importance of networking with other designers and getting your name out there. Doing so has been key to getting most, if not all, of my clients.

This is my portfolio I designed and coded into WordPress earlier this year. I kept it very minimal in order to cast the focus on the work being displayed. It proved to be very popular, featuring in some of the top web design galleries such as Design Shack and CSS Mania

3. Brandon Wang

pic of brendon wang

Age: 14
Based in: Houston, TX area
Started designing websites aged: 9
Clients: I primarily do work for myself and other web apps
Education: Design/development education completely self-taught
My web design idols: A big fan of Jason Santa Maria, Tim Van Damme, and countless others. Although truthfully, I admire many people's work, and find myself coming back to a website just to see their design. The especially good ones I bookmark to check back on; it's interesting to see evolution in design sometimes.
Online: brwang.com and @bradr

.net: What have you been working on this year? And what's been your proudest moment?
BW: Currently I’m working on Schooltraq, a powerful, clean and somewhat minimalist online academic planner for the modern student. I do feel this is an area I have grasp and potential in, and what is being done is very cool. Previously this year, I also worked on other web apps and projects. My proudest moments have always been when I can unveil something; regardless of whether people like it, I feel happy inside. I also value being able to improve on my work after said unveiling.

.net: What advice do you have for aspiring web designers?
BW: Gotta start somewhere, my friend. No place better to start than a real-world project you want to work on. Make yourself a portfolio, create a web app: do something that immerses you into code and design. Don't be afraid of criticism, but always accept feedback.

screenshot of brwang.com
This is my personal site over at BrWang.com. Designed early 2011, runs on top of WordPress

4. Callum Chapman

Age: 20
Based in: Cambridge, UK
Started designing websites aged: 17
Clients: Envato Blogs, The Geek Store, CRMFrota, Crowdsource, Scalar, SnoozeFail, BeerBuddy, MUD Inc
Education: Self-taught
My web design idols: Luke Beard, Elliot Jay Stocks, Matthew Smith
Online: circleboxcreative.com and @callumchapman

.net: What have you been working on this year? And what's been your proudest moment?
CC: This year has been a rollercoaster! I've mainly been focusing on interface design, and took a big step towards iOS UIs, some of which include Scalar, SnoozeFail and Mud Map. My proudest moment is hard to choose; this year alone I’ve been offered a handful of superb job opportunities in UK, Sweden and Australia. I accepted the job offer in Australia, so my guess is that this is my proudest moment, although there have been many!

.net: What advice do you have for aspiring web designers?
CC: Some think this is hard advice to give, but it isn't. Work hard, always give 100 per cent, and get yourself out there. If you do a good job, the opportunities will quite literally appear in your inbox. For me, Dribbble.com has been hugely successful!

This is my first big project since being employed by an Australian company, MUD Inc. I designed the company’s new website/blog from scratch. The project is not yet live, but will include a handful of beautiful jQuery to compliment my design

5. James Billingham

Age: 16
Based in: Warrington, UK
Started designing websites at: I began designing websites with my own personal website (a collection of Flash games) when I was around eight
Clients: MindBody Solutions Ltd (corporate wellness), Projectivity (project management/training and IT consultancy), Berghaus (international outdoor clothing company), Harley Street SPMU (cosmetics company), Code Computerlove (a web agency, where I did the Berghaus websites)
Education: So far, I'm educated up to GCSE level (although awating my results). With regards to websites, my Dad taught me the basics, but since then I've been self-educated
My web design idols: I’ve always looked up to Chris Spooner and have been forever fascinated by the Flash work of Eric Jordan from 2Advanced
Online: jamesbillingham.com and @BillinghamJ

.net: What have you been working on this year? And what's been your proudest moment?
JB: This year has encompassed a variety of personal projects. Amongst other things, I've been playing with some game development for the Xbox 360, using the XNA framework and various pieces of Autodesk software for 3D design and animation. Hopefully one day, I'll be able to put my name to a title. I've been running a popular server for Minecraft, called Craftia, and making a website to go with it that involves microtransactions for memberships and in-game currency. These are processed through Google Checkout and ImpulsePay (an SMS payment provider).

My proudest moment for this year was probably finding out about making this shortlist. I could barely contain my immense excitement. I've never been nominated for any award before and this was pretty superb! Although receiving my first orders for my website was a pretty high moment too. 

.net: What advice do you have for aspiring web designers?
JB: I think one of the most important ways to go about things at this age is to be confident, use your initiative and just to go for it. I'm well aware that it’s very difficult to get a job or freelance work at this age. What’s always served me best is to get stuck in, explain that whilst I'm young, I'm capable, and just to be honest and as confident about my abilities as I can.

Also, don't undercharge yourself too much. Obviously you do have to drop a little from an experienced, extensively qualified person, but if you're good at what you do, you're good at what you do and you deserve to be paid as such.

I designed and developed the Craftia site for a popular Minecraft server

6. Janna Hagan

Age: 20
Based in: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Started designing websites aged: 18
Clients: Award Limousine Services (Hamilton, ON), Sage Sustainable Living (Fort Saskatchewan, AB), Mind-Body-Learn Yoga Studio (Halifax, NS), MPA Engineering Ltd (Sherwood Park, AB)
Education: Attended Durham College in Oshawa, ON for Web Design & Development. Currently taking business
My web design idols: Meagan Fisher, Sarah Mick, Sara White, Dave Ruiz, Andrew Wilkinson, Jo Klima, Sarah Parmenter, Heath Waller, Allison Nold
Online: jannahagan.com and @_jannalynn

.net: What have you been working on this year? And what's been your proudest moment?
JH: I am currently working for the summer at a design agency called Mediashaker in Edmonton, AB. I’m also setting aside time to do freelancing, as well as start a personal project specifically for web design students. My proudest moment this year has been to be named on the list of "50 Awesome Portfolios from Female Designers and Illustrators".

.net: What advice do you have for aspiring web designers?
JH: Since I'm so young and just starting out in the industry myself, I can't really give professional advice for students about their career. However, I recommend being proactive about your future. Being passionate about what you do and working hard are a must if you want to become successful in this industry.

This is a design for The Eye Shoppe, a complete eye clinic in Oshawa, ON offering surgeons, opticians and optometrists under one roof. I completed the design aspect of the website as a school project

7. Joel Drapper

Age: 18
Based in: Bournemouth, UK
Started designing websites aged: 15
Clients: Internal projects (9miles Media), Classy Llama Studios (Missouri, USA), International Mac Podcast (Leeds, UK)
Education: Self taught, on-the-job training at 9miles Media
My web design idols: "You shall have no other gods before me." - Exodus 20:3. But here are some web designers who inspire me: Rogie King, Melanie Matthews, Jacob Cass, Mark Jardine, Jon Hicks, Dan Cederholm, Philipp Datz, Konstantin Datz
Online: joeldrapper.com and @JoelDrapper

.net: What have you been working on this year? And what's been your proudest moment?
JD: Building up 9miles Media to the point that I can work for it full-time before the year is out. Learning how to make Mac and iOS apps.

.net: What advice do you have for aspiring web designers?
JD: Always make time to work on your own projects.

8. John Moss

Age: 14
Based in: California
Started designing websites aged: I started developing websites when I was 10 years old. That is to say, I hacked together some HTML that managed to display on the screen. That really was the extent of my ability back then. However, if you'd like to get technical, I'd say I only really started designing websites when I was about 13. It was only around that time that I finally started to understand the value of aesthetics in technology, and that was when I started to transition from a hardcore-developer to the mostly designer-developer I am now.
Clients: I really don't do much client work. Personally, I'd much rather work on a project that I'm passionate about than a project I'm getting paid for. And, until I have bills that need paying, that's the way I'd like it to stay!
That being said, I have done some logo/branding work for a handful of companies and individuals. Most notably, I did the logo for Magic Productions, an indie game studio. I'm also currently working on the upcoming personal branding of a wonderful developer, Will Smidlein.
Education: Pretty much everything I've learned about web design has been self-taught. You might think it's harder that way, but so far all of my problems have been solved by some diligent Googling. However, although I haven't had a teacher, that doesn't mean I haven't had outside help. Fantastic designers on communities such as Dribbble and Twitter help me everyday to refine and test my creations.
My web design idols: Wow. This is tough. There are so many great web designers out there for me to choose from, but think I've got it narrowed down to just three: Chris Coyier, Roger King and Dan Cederholm.
Online: worldmoss.com and @worldmoss

.net: What have you been working on this year? And what's been your proudest moment?
JM: This year has been the year everything has really come together for me. Both my design and development chops have improved so much these past few months, even I can't believe it sometimes. As for what I've been doing, suffice to say I've been pretty busy. My personal site has undergone upwards of three redesigns (with another one in the works right now) and I recently opened up a new website as a freelancing portfolio. When I haven't been working on those, I've been working on some personal branding for Will Smidlein, as well as some web design work for an up-and-coming website called Teenage Pixels. My proudest moment? Right now, no contest.

.net: What advice do you have for aspiring web designers?
JM: Just get out there and design!  Build, and if you don't like it, tear it down and build it again.  Have fun!

The latest evolution of my personal website, worldmoss.com

9. Jonathan Olsen

Age: 19
Based in: Sweden
Started designing websites aged: 12
Clients: Bruno Banani, Fishermans Friend, Henkel (Syoss), Hewlett Packard, H&M, Oboy, Stimorol, Travellink
Education: I'm self-taught all the way. I have a college degree in Graphic Communication, Front-end Programming and Interaction Design, but most of the things they taught in school I already knew, so school for me wasn't that educational (even though I went to the only school in Stockholm that had special focus on these three subjects).
My web design idols: I don’t have any web design idols, even though I look up to certain very talented people (Rogie, Pedja Rusic, Konstatin Datz). I don’t really admire one single person though; I mostly enjoy checking out the works of web agencies such as B-Reel or Fantasy Interactive. I also like the people over at the Dribbble community.
Online: Lilypad.se and @lilypadse

.net: What have you been working on this year? And what's been your proudest moment?
JO: I have been working on several projects actually. I'm currently starting up my own company. Meanwhile I’m working as lead designer for a web agency here in Stockholm. I'm also exploring jQuery and PHP (usually I just write XHTML/CSS). So I'm up to my own projects right now, even though I do client work. Stimorol is one of the projects I've been involved in this year.

.net: What advice do you have for aspiring web designers?
JO: My advice is to read books and follow guides on the internet. The best way to learn is to do. Practice makes perfect. Nobody is a professional in the beginning.

Stimorol wanted to promote their new chewing gum "Fresh & Clean" so they decided to launch a campaign site, http://whatsfresh.se, including a competition and some video content. My task was to create the design/user interface and XHTML/CSS-markup, as well as the jQuery interactions

 10. Lauren Thompson

Age: 20
Based in: Newcastle upon Tyne
Started designing websites aged: I started (badly) when I was 13, with a three-column frameset with a soft pink stylesheet. And pixelled hearts
Clients: Newcastle College Group, Stephen Hendry Snooker, Sailor Girl Ltd
Education: My main skill set is self taught – design fundamentals, HTML, CSS etc, but I also studied web design at Newcastle College, which shaped me into a professional and helped me fine-tune all of my skills, as well as connecting me with an awesome network of talented people.
My web design idols: Too many to possibly mention them all. I find myself inspired hourly by some ridiculously talented people, but I’ll give it a shot: Sarah Parmenter, Jason Santa Maria, Tim van Damme, Mike Kus, Kyle Meyer and Simon Collison.
Online: www.iliketheuniverse.co.uk and @lrnn

.net: What have you been working on this year? And what's been your proudest moment?
LT: I’m lucky to be working at hedgehog lab as a UI designer, working across the board on some exciting mobile and web projects. I moonlight as a freelance designer, working mostly with local clients and start-ups. Proudest moment (so far) was graduating with a distinction in my degree after two years of hard work.

.net: What advice do you have for aspiring web designers?
LT: Throw yourself out there. Go to conferences, geek meet-ups, get involved in conversations on Twitter, read everything you can get your hands on and make some noise.

Redesign of the hedgehog lab website, a mobile development agency

So, who deserves the title of 'Young Designer of the Year'? Cast your vote at www.thenetawards.com and check out our top three on 12 October.

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