Najla Mansour – Syria
99designs handle: RotRed
Projects won: 60
How did you get started in design?
Designing is my life!
Ever since I was 11 years old, drawing has been my favorite hobby. I started getting into graphic design at the age of 15 and from then on decided to be a graphic designer. However… I managed to join the school of architecture to become an architect instead :)
I thought by studying architecture I would be a designer who can design everything – graphic design is in my blood and under my skin! My graphic design skills helped me graduate on the top of my class in 2009 and get a scholarship to study for my MSc in Advanced Architectural Design in the UK starting in September 2011.
How do you get your design inspiration?
It’s very difficult to determine what or who inspired you, but we are always affected and influenced by our surrounding environment. When I say environment I mean everything – the people and all the other things around you. It all affects me… sometimes negatively and sometimes positively and both are important in developing my thoughts and designs.
When I started drawing and designing I was in total control – I was the one who set the rules and conditions that dictated the direction of my work. But after I entered school I have had to give up some of that control to the clients. They are the ones judging my work – people whom I may never meet look to me to create a design that suits their needs. I do my my best to interpret what they want from their creative brief and deliver – it’s been a tremendous learning experience. I always try to learn from everything and everyone I meet and I’ll keep learning as long as I can hold my pen (and mouse ! :P )!!!!
What led you to start using 99designs.com?
Well I am an architect, and in my country architectural universities focus on building establishment and design more than a broader type of design. Because I had to focus so extensively on architectural design, I felt that I had lost some skills and flexibility in more general design work.
Therefore, after graduating I tried to get back and rebuild these skills. I started surfing on the Internet, which is my second favorite activity, I researched design and companies involved with design… and I found the blog about 99designs. I LOVED it! I loved everything about the group – the designs, the staff, the idea of meeting designers over all the world… but the thing I liked most is the contests.
I started participating and I actually won my 9th contest! I was so happy and decided to continue at 99designs as my extra job. After designing for a year in the 99designs community I feel like I am working for a big company. I have met so many great friends around the world who are great and excellent designers. Many of them have helped me improve my skills and the staff is pretty awesome at taking care of the community.
What are three things designers can do to have success at 99designs?
Lots of designers keep asking me this! I want to tell everyone that I also used to ask if there was a secret to all this and… unfortunately, NO there is no secret at all! Once a good friend of mine, khingkhing – one of the best designers on 99designs, told me… Najla, Don’t stop, when it is time to start winning, you will win and then never look back! And that is exactly what happened :)
So I will tell you what I found out:
1.) Don’t enter any contest that is not your style: don’t just enter for the sake of entering – enter to win! Don’t enter a contest that will end in few hours unless you KNOW you can do much better than what’s already submitted.
2.) Build a powerful PORTFOLIO: your portfolio is so important! Always add the best of your work – only the best. When you have something like 30 of your best work in there, you will start winning. The client will see your work and give you feedback and direction about what they like and don’t like in your style.
3.) Never stop trying to win: losing and losing and losing should only make you stronger and push you to work harder! When you work harder – you will be better designer and will start winning.
4.) Read the brief, don’t beg for feedback, fight as your life depends on it!!! Don’t make bad comments on wall that will make you lose your respect :)
What do you love most about being a designer?
Being a designer means two things for me, two things I love a lot…
The first is that being a designer means that I can offer something to myself, something that relieves me and helps me relax… everytime you finish a design you feel that you brought something to life, you give something a soul, something came from your mind and thoughts – this is what I call creation.
The second is that i can make people SMILE! It is a great joy to get to make people smile. As a designer you may not be able to change the world but you CAN add something to it! Something that would last – something that came from you that you give to the world and represents all.
Najla also wanted to share one of her architectural designs with you – the above is her graduation project.