An interview with Fernando’s design

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Name: Jude Fernando
Location: Philippines
99designs handle: Fernando’s design
Projects won: 29

How did you get started in web design?

I got my start in design a long time ago, 1995 to be exact. It was not in web design, but in Architectural design. Yes, that was my foundation and my five years in architecture school developed my aesthetic sensibilities.

However, architectural practice in the real world didn’t work out for me. It was not my cup of tea – I discovered that creativity in the world of cement and steel was limited by so many factors. I started looking into other creative outlets such as traditional art and sculpture. All this was until the day I discovered Photoshop…

I was so amazed by the capabilities of the software, that I started spending all my waking hours messing around with it. I tried my hand at some personal websites for friends and poster designs for local events. I realized that this was something I could get good at after much encouragement and appreciation from my friends, family and early clients. This was also the time when websites were not cool and pretty to look at and there was definitely no web2.0 and glossy, shiny interfaces! There was and is so much potential on the web!

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How do you get your inspiration?

My initial inspiration is always the client. A good brief inspires me and gets me thinking about the possibilities. I also spend some time every single day just browsing the web, looking at great designs, seeing the work of other designers. The more you appreciate the work of others the more you grow in your own work. Most of my ideas come to me at night – when the world is asleep. A calm mind and quiet surroundings inspire a lot of thought. I never rush into a design.

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What led you to start using 99designs.com?

Unlike many here, I discovered 99designs quite late. I was randomly browsing through a popular web design forum when I came across a discussion about contests. The whole concept of crowdsourcing was new to me and I was curious enough about 99designs to give it a try.

I was hooked immediately – each and every contest gave me a rush but I was also depressed when I didn’t win. I am sure all of you designers here have felt the same. After 126 contests its still a rush and I have learned to deal with losing :)

99designs has been invaluable in providing me with a lot more opportunity than what I had before. Every contest is a learning experience and I have built relationships with more than a few regular clients though this site. I have improved a lot since I first started here – much of which is due to the concept of this site. Being able to compare ones work with the work of other designers gives you great insight into what you need to improve on. Without this constant interaction with other designers through the contest environment, I would still be stuck where I was a year ago.

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What are three things designers can do to have success at 99designs?

  1. Understand the brief. This is the the most important aspect of any contest, yet is more often than not the most overlooked. I don’t mean just read the brief, but actually understand what the contest holder wants. Read it carefully, take the time, don’t rush things.
  2. Think like the client. Put yourself in the clients position and think about what you would want if you were the client. What would be most important to you? Sometimes I even think about where the client lives and the acceptable current design practices in that country or that city. For example Scandinavia has a minimalist, functional and ultra modern design language, whereas Miami beach is about being eclectic, colorful and a little over the top.
  3. Offer something unique with your entry. Everyone likes to be surprised and clients remember unique designs. If two designs follow the brief to the letter and both designs have excellent technique, it’s likely the design that offers something unique or something extra will win. Remember, think like the client. Every client wants their website to standout from the crowd.

Web Design

What do you love most about being a designer?

Creative freedom is what I love the most. Each new project is a creative outlet and a challenge in itself. Each project brings something different. Not having to do the same thing every day for years is what I love most about being a designer.

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Jason Aiken is the Community Director of 99designs.