Designer profile: IfThenElse

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Name: Marija Rakic
Location: Novi Sad, Serbia
99designs handle: IfThenElse
Projects won: 28

How did you get started in design?

Some of my friends were building websites and I started to learn html/css as an option to provide some extra cash. I was student of Faculty of Technical Sciences, University in Novi Sad, and I saw myself working as hardware programmer – I was more geek than artist so having a creative job never crossed my mind :) .

At first I was all over the place: flash, html, css, illustrator, Maya, php … Coding and programming was very interesting and easy for me but I found myself enjoying the design process the most. I’ve started paying more attention to it and spending more and more time working in Photoshop. It took 5 years, and 3 PC’s but now, what started as additional income has become my full-time job.

Jeep Club Web Design

How do you get your inspiration?

Inspiration is everywhere. It can be my desktop wallpaper, a TV commercial, a tea cup… The main thing is not to force it, sometimes it takes days to come up with a wireframe and general idea – and in some cases a design brief is so interesting that you immediately get inspired.

CSS galleries are always a good resource for inspiration and as a way to follow design trends. You can learn a lot just by watching and analyzing other websites. Never stop learning, read as much as you can on design process and trends. Even when not inspired by the theme of the site you are working on (your 10th commercial site this month) it is important to develop a skill and to be able to produce quality work.

Hexaville Web Design

What led you to start using 99designs.com?

Sitepoint.com was one my favorite websites, and at the time the design contests were part of the Sitepont marketplace. … back in 2006. I spent some time just following the contests and then eventually decided to give it a go.

99designs has helped me develop my design skills – I’ve learned a lot through the contests and watching how different concepts are created based on the same brief. This is an excellent learning environment. The majority of my regular clients found me on 99designs, so it is good place to find clients.

This doesn’t mean you have to win a particular contest to get work, very often people will hire you based on your designs. So don’t be discouraged when another design wins. Keep in mind, that even if you loose, quality work will be noticed, and in time you will obtain clients and a steady workflow.

On the other hand, even when I have work, it is too much fun to participate in the contests :). Measuring your work against others and trying to guess what the CH will like is very exciting. This will always bring me back to 99designs.

Cigar Info Web design

What are the three most important things that designers can do to have success at 99designs.com?

1. Have respect for contest holder and his decisions
When entering a contest, keep in mind that the contest holder is spending time and money, and can conduct the contest any way they choose. Treat the contest holder as a client – not as a buddy. Be aware of when the contest ends and try to submit designs in a timely fashion ( you probably wouldn’t go to your boss or client 2 days before deadline and say: ”Please, please extend!”:))

2. Choose projects based on how they interest you, not by the prize money
I understand that high prize contests can be very tempting but you will do a much better job, and probably have more success if you only enter the contests that are appealing to you.

3. Keep your integrity
If you are asked to use other people design elements – respectfully decline. In my experience – this usually results in a win ;). Your opinion matters, don’t be afraid to suggest something different to a contest holder or propose a different solution for revision request. Treat any kind of feedback as constructive criticism.

Endurance Magazine Design

What do you love most about being a designer?

First of all, I am a web designer and developer – so for me – the perfect blend of technology and creative work is the part that I love the most. I love the variety of work – you can work on a website for children one day and do a corporate and clean style the next.

Every project is different. Also, working with different people from different parts of the world can be very interesting.

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Jason Aiken is the Community Director of 99designs.