Introducing Ones to Watch 2020!
We are excited to be announcing our Ones to Watch for 2020. They’re a multi-talented, cross-discipline, globe-trotting bunch.
A new year only means one thing: a new batch of fresh talent ready to take on the creative world. And Ones to Watch is our opportunity to shine a light on the emerging talent we believe are about to hit it big.
2020’s line-up has been chosen from a global pool of creative talent, as always, for their ability to consistently produce inspiring and engaging work across a diverse range of disciplines. And this year, we really do mean a diverse range of disciplines, as we have everything from robotics to film to machine learning included. No matter what their chosen creative path is, however, each of our Ones to Watch has been selected on the merit of their work to date, and in anticipation for their work in the future.
Check out this year’s impressive line-up below, where you’ll find the basics you need to know about everyone and a link out to an in-depth interview about their work.
Name(s): Andrea Anner and Thibault Brevet
Location: Marseille, France
Highlight: Grève Genérale workshop at ECAL
This duo caught our eye for its entirely unique (and almost made-up) practice, self-coined “a practice for non-industrial robots”. This has seen Andrea and Thibault experimenting with how robots can be used for creative means, outside of industry, and often for counter-productive activities. Think robots brushing hair or blowing bubbles.
To see what else AATB can make robots do, including for an installation at the V&A Dundee, read the full interview with Andrea and Thibault.
Name(s): Marie Grønkær, Kristoffer Li and Martin Bek
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Discipline: Graphic design
Highlight: Visual identity for the Danish Pavilion at the 2019 Venice Biennale
A trio based in the Danish capital, Alexis Mark is a studio which looks for the obvious solutions – and then does exactly the opposite. Marie, Kristoffer and Martin initially met at the Royal Danish Academy’s School of Design and it’s safe to say they’ve had a busy year, designing everything from identities and exhibitions to T-shirts and publications.
In their interview, the trio discuss establishing in a creative hub in Copenhagen, confusing people with their moniker, and looking at design laterally.
Name(s): Jameela Elfaki, Sunayah Arshad, Noor Alabdulbaqi, Evar Hussayni and Ella Lucia
Location: London, UK
Highlight: Azeema x Nike: Move Without Limits
What started out as a university project by Jameela Elfaki is growing into a movement and a team of five aiming to tackle the lack of representation of Middle Eastern and North African women in mainstream media. Having published three issues of their print edition so far, and with a whole host of events to their name, Jameela, Sunayah, Noor, Evar and Ella are stepping things up with the launch of their creative agency.
When we caught up with the team, they told us more about their story, the reasons Azeema exists and the community they’ve created.
Name(s): Caitlin McCarthy
Location: London, UK
Highlight: Lite Me Up
Animation director Caitlin McCarthy’s work has been going from strength-to-strength and we’ve been eagerly following along for a while now. Her stories are full of teenage heartache and relatably cringy moments and everything always seems to go wrong, but they’ll no doubt have you in stitches. With MTV, Nike and Adult Swim now on her client list, alongside several personal projects, she’s firmly earned her spot on Ones to Watch 2020 – find out what her next story is shaping up to be in her interview.
Name(s): Hezin O
Location: Seoul, South Korea
Discipline: Graphic design
Highlight: Because I can’t start with just a blank page, Can I?
Hezin is a designer who we’re sure has graced your screens many a time as she’s been working in the industry for ten years now. During this time, however, her practice has developed greatly from one that saw graphic design as a form of decoration to a medium with conceptual depth. At the end of last year, Hezin completed a master’s at the University of Seoul, graduating with a project investigating analogue tools and the surprising (read: more interesting) results that can occur when you step away from the computer.
This is an exciting time for the designer as she re-enters the working world with a host of exhibitions to add to her CV.
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Hezin O: Because I can’t start with just a blank page, Can I?
Name(s): Jessy Moussallem
Location: Beirut, Lebanon
Highlight: Cavalry, for Mashrou’ Leila
It’s no exaggeration to say the work of filmmaker Jessy Moussallem had some of us in tears. Having grown up in Lebanon towards the tail end of civil war, Jessy’s films are poignant reflections on the experiences of many in the Middle East. That’s not to say that the stories Jessy tells are marginal, however. Her work connects audiences from all walks of life with a subject that every nation in the world can relate to; political oppression.
In her interview, Jessy explained how growing up in a place like Lebanon gives you purpose and a mission, and how that now manifests across her works.
Name(s): Joy Yamusangie
Location: London, UK
Highlight: Blue Glass Fortunes
With an approach that includes illustration, typography, poetry, ceramics, collage and painting, this artist caught our eye for their cross-disciplinary practice which just keeps on getting better. You never know what medium Joy’s next piece will take, but there’s one thing you can expect: an introspective and personal narrative which pulls on Joy’s experiences – whether that’s small-town racism, trips to Congo to visit their family or simply dinner with friends.
When we spoke to Joy, they told us about keeping dream diaries, not working on Mondays and the excitement of trying a new medium.
Name(s): Karabo Poppy Moletsane
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
Highlight: Nike By You Air Force 1 Low Collection
Growing up, a career in the creative industries was not an option for illustrator Karabo Poppy, and the odds were firmly stacked against her. Today, however, she‘s developed a flourishing career which sees her permeating an authentic African aesthetic worldwide, collaborating with brands like Nike and Netflix, and joining other black creatives in trying to rebalance African representation in the media and contemporary design sphere.
In her interview, Karabo talks taking inspiration from the hand-painted signage of the old school barbershops prevalent throughout Africa and buying her first pair of Nikes.
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Karabo Poppy: Nike By You Air Force 1 Low Collection
Name(s): Leonard Suryajaya
Location: Chicago, USA
Highlight: False Idol
As a queer Indonesian citizen of Chinese descent, Leonard’s immigration to America wasn’t all that simple. It’s a tremulous journey which inspired him to create False Idol, a series examining his own identity and past, as well as reflecting on the xenophobic climate of the US at a time when he was granted his green card. It was this story, as well as the adept combination of photography, fine art and set design prevalent in the series which landed Leonard a spot in Ones to Watch 2020.
A complex series but also an entirely joyous one, it’s a story you need to hear from Leonard himself.
Name(s): Robbie Barrat
Location: Nantes, France
Discipline: Machine learning
Highlight: Acne AW20
Having gone straight from high school to work at a tech company developing self-driving cars at the age of 17, Robbie Barrat quit to become a full-time artist and is now one of the most exciting names working with machine learning and AI.
Robbie’s had a bafflingly impressive start to his career for someone so young and the beginning of 2020 saw him collaborating with Acne on its AW20 collection. When we caught up with Robbie, he told us more about this project, as well as his perspective on having his code stolen by the group who went on to sell “the first” AI-created painting at Christie’s, as well as what’s next for him.
Name(s): Sam Nixon
Location: New York City, USA
Highlight: Yafo to Jericho
Working across fashion and documentary photography, Sam is a success story for learning on the job. Self-taught, he picked up everything he knows while assisting photographers like Collier Schor, Ryan McGinley and Alasdair McLellan. Sam’s work drew our attention due to its beautifully consistent sepia-toned aesthetic, one which imbues everything with a hazy nostalgia.
When we spoke to Sam, he told us about how moving from his native New Zealand to New York impacted his practice, as well as his recent foray into film in collaboration with Michael Casker which produced the stunning documentary work, Akhada.
Name(s): Sofie Birkin
Location: Denver, USA
Highlight: Playboy commission
Originally from Southend-on-Sea, Sofie’s an illustrator who aims to subvert traditional ideas of feminity and diversity and queer visibility are paramount to every one of her works. This has seen her working as Cosmopolitan's resident sex illustrator, producing editorial illustrations for Playboy and projecting her work onto a 325ft-tall building in the centre of Denver.
To find out more about Sofie’s empowered and colourful characters and why she thinks you can never underestimate queer visibility in art and media, read her full interview.
Name(s): Yehwan Song
Location: Seoul, South Korea
Discipline: Creative coding
Highlight: Very Responsive Website
Yehwan Song is a creative coder on a mission to radically change how we think about websites, and her unorthodox approach to designing for the web is what landed her on this year’s Ones to Watch list. Not afraid to take risks or go against convention, Yehwan’s websites are playful, inventive and totally unique.
When we caught up with Yehwan, she told us about how accidentally taking a maths class kickstarted her coding career and how, ultimately, she just wants to make people see websites from a different perspective.
Spotify Design is proud to sponsor It’s Nice That’s Ones to Watch 2020, championing a diverse and inclusive creative community. We’re a team of cross-disciplinary creatives who love to design experiences that make meaningful connections between listeners and artists. We’re committed to designing for tomorrow and to supporting future-facing creatives who are out to make an impact on the world.