Young guns

We are living in a revolution. Swathes of young designers and illustrators are turning the industry upside down by rejecting education and forging their own careers. These 'young guns' aren't confined to unpaid projects, they're landing whopping briefs from their bedrooms and exposing their work in the streets, in print and online. "New creatives are coming from diverse backgrounds and embracing a DIY spirit - there's been a definite rise in that," says Anna Doyle, associate director of the onedotzero digital film festival. With inspiration, tutorials and software readily accessible in mags and on the web, young guns are running amok.

Things weren't always this way. Early last century, graphic design's career path was formulaic. Designers would take an apprenticeship at a small studio, learn craft skills from an older, 'wiser' practitioner before moving to a larger company, where they might finally lead on a project. Graphic design then evolved into an academic discipline: students could study specific techniques at art schools and gain qualifications before joining the rat race. We've now reached a third age, where the epidemic spread of computers has democratised the tools and techniques of the trade. Rather than spending years in rote-learning environments, designers are emerging younger, teaching themselves and winning huge freelance briefs. What's more, young guns' idiosyncratic go-it-alone routes enable them to develop individual, expressive styles.

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