Meet PinchStudio: designer and small business owner

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This week, we’re hoping that hundreds of small businesses around the United States will be posting this awesome illustration by PinchStudio in their real or virtual storefronts:

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PinchStudio’s poster/social media banner illustration for National Small Business Week

Most of the folks who run contests on 99designs are small business owners (and many designers are, too), so we knew we wanted to do something special for National Small Business Week. We ran a contest, and PinchStudio blew us away with his uplifting illustration.

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Having co-founded an animation studio in his native Serbia that now boasts clients as big and global as MTV, Sinisa Sumina – a.k.a. PinchStudio – knows a thing or two about what a small business can accomplish with talent and dedication. We caught up with him about all this and more; read on!

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Sinisa Sumina – Novi Sad, Serbia
99designs handle: PinchStudio
Projects won: 12

You’re a designer of many talents. Can you give us an overview of your career?

As far as for my roots, I studied Fine Arts – traditional painting. All my life I’ve been drawing, and I am most inclined towards illustration. However, my career as a graphic designer was short: soon I went into the animation business and stayed there. I started my own studio with partner Vuk Tatalovic in 2005, which we merged into the larger entity Doktor Fried in 2012.

Your work at Doktor Fried is really impressive. How does animation compare to graphic design?

Working in animation is a rewarding experience because projects vary so much, you never get bored. The only question is how much you are limited in your own creative input by the client’s perspective. It’s a big thrill when we get a package for MTV with no limits, of course, but that is a rare occasion.

A showreel of Doktor Fried’s animation work from the past year

How did you wind up using 99designs, then? 

My best friend, Aleksandar Pers, created the profile PinchStudio, which is the name of his actual studio he runs with his wife Aleksandra Zivanovic in Novi Sad. He introduced me to 99designs and I wanted to try few contests in my spare time, so I used his profile and liked it.

Being here on 99D actually woke up my illustration and concept skills which I’ve neglected for the past few years as I’ve been running the studio primarily as a manager and as supervisor. When you run a studio, there is so much you need to do besides sitting with the guys and animating stuff. So I hadn’t been regularly designing, except sometimes doing style frames, storyboards, character design here and there.

So you relished the opportunity to return to your drawing roots?

Yes. I prefer infographic and illustration contests and I compete if I feel there is room to be a bit playful (or dare I say, creative) and if I have a strong feeling that I could win.

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PinchStudio’s ad for an Android development company

And our National Small Business Week contest caught your eye?

Yes. It had interesting potential within its brief, so I decided to give it a go and have some fun, and I am glad I did as it turned out very nice.

Small business is very important. Without it, big global companies would swallow everything in their way. Small businesses give much more identity and diversity to their respective communities. Not to mention the fact that they are generally more fun to work with. We’ve been doing work for both big and small companies, and with small ones we often can have more influence on the final product and could make some really cool stuff.

An ad by Doktor Fried for ADFC Buy Local

What’s your community like in Serbia? Is there a lot going on to inspire you creatively?

Serbia is now in a tough economic period. We’re hoping for the best. And for inspiration, yeah, I enjoy beautiful things as everybody does: nature, books, films, friends … but my kids are the biggest inspiration in my life. They keep the smile on my face no matter what.

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PinchStudio’s logo design submission for a production company 

You’ve accomplished a lot since starting your animation studio almost 10 years ago. What do you hope to achieve next? 

Well, as I am in animation and production business, and we’re trying to make original content – TV shows, films etc. – I’d like to direct some day. I am preparing a short Sci Fi live-action film and hope it’ll turn to reality in a year or so.

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Alex Bigman is liaison to 99designs' awesome community of graphic designers. He is a recent grad of UC Berkeley, where he studied history of art and cognitive science.