Zehra – or Arthean (as you probably know her) – has been an active designer on 99designs since 2012. Previously an architectural engineer, she found her creative niche in design and now works on brand and identity projects full time. Many of her winning designs have lead to long-term 1-to-1 projects on 99designs and enabled her to build an exceptional client portfolio (the client testimonials really say it all).
Learn more about Zehra’s success on 99designs and some of her favorite client stories in the interview below:
Name: Zehra D.
99designs handle: arthean
Location: Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a designer with a diploma from the Faculty of Architecture in Sarajevo. I love everything related to art and design. I enjoy creating beautiful and smart designs which is what I have been doing for over 10 years now. For me, the most important factor in being successful in what you do is to have a devotion and passion for it.
Design: Seal Media
How did you get into graphic design?
My love for design and aesthetics dates back to my childhood. I was always running around with my sketchbook and drawing things from my imagination. With every sketch I saw a chance to improve and learned that it’s the details and the meaning that differentiate it from the ordinary.
That is why I became an architectural engineer. I saw it as a chance to design something beautiful with meaning. The years of studying architecture were great and I learned a lot about the history of art and architecture and how to do professional drawing. After I got my diploma I started working as an architectural Project Manager in a local project bureau, it was a nice job in the main town of our country and I was satisfied, but there was always that little something that was missing.
I missed the freedom to choose my projects and how to execute them independently. Working in a firm meant being bound by strict rules, which sometimes lacked creativity. I wanted to fill this creativity gap and I started to work on graphic design related projects in my free time. At the beginning, it wasn’t much, but it was fun.
Then at some point, while I was browsing for some fonts I saw an ad for 99designs and I took a peek. It looked like fun and it was challenging to compete with other designers so I gave it a try. After the first win I knew I found a great platform to express my creativity. Today I am fully dedicated to graphic design and I finally do what I love. Isn’t that what is called a dream job?
Design: District Cookies
How do you think you’ve grown as a designer over the years?
Well, it is hard to be objective when you are talking about yourself, but I have to say that I am satisfied with my progress. For now :). It is interesting, but when you take a look at my portfolio, you will find a lot of different styles and approaches. From retro to modern and from simple to complex.
However, I do not want to put any kind of a limit to my creativity, so I guess this is positive even if I am still searching for my style. I really like negative-space logos, smart logos with hidden meaning and of course retro and vintage designs, but I’m always open for something new.
A great role in my growth as a designer and a person belongs to my husband. He supports me in the first place with his endless understanding and love. His good sense for details often help me to perfect my designs. In his free time he helps me with professional advices as he has a great experience in project management so that I have full freedom to develop my creativity. He also helped me with my website arthean.com.
Design: Sustainable Harvest
You do a lot of work in branding and identity. What are some of the first things you do when you start a new project?
Hmm… usually it starts with lot of thinking. People would not believe how time-consuming that can be. It might seem as a simple shape, but there might be many hours of brainstorming behind a concept. Sometimes it is really a creative challenge to come up with a simple yet smart design.
It is also a personal satisfaction when, after many hours of work, you create something which is amazing and also gets client’s recognition. I also have my sketchbook, so many of my designs are hand-drawn and later digitized. But there are times when I just “see a solution” and I hurry up and open my Illustrator while the idea is still there. I guess that’s when the inspirations comes in place.
The part which I can’t leave out is designing with a nice music in the background. Sometimes it really helps to relax and explore ideas. It is really a unique feeling to achieve a well-executed design while listening to some of the greatest composers like: Vivaldi, Vangelis, Ennio Morricone.
Designs: FishoilNordic.com (website via 1-to-1 Project);
What’s the best 99designs project that you’ve ever worked on? Is there one that went beyond your expectations?
Yeah, of course! As an identity and branding strategist, I have met a lot of clients internationally, but I think I have met the kindest client of my life on 99designs. His name is Mr. Jostein from Norway. I would like to use this opportunity to thank him once again for being so polite and kind through all the amazing projects we had.
Also from today’s perspective, I can’t believe that the logo design for Fish Oil Nordic would lead me to take care about all the marketing materials for Mr. Jostein’s company and to create 3 custom website designs via 1-1 for him. I am even considering visiting him in his country, since we became good friends too.
There is also one project thst I would really like to mention. I met Katy on 99designs and she had a really unique idea to start her business. It was about a retro-style mobile hair salon in a vintage airstream, which was completely overhauled. This logo design is really one of my favorites, which incorporates in a smart way an airstream and comb.
Also, I really like when I can develop my identity concept further, which was in this case a website. I find it especially interesting because of the background story and such a unique concept of the business. All of this that I mentioned shows that 99designs is full of amazing experiences.
Design: Hair & There (website via 1-to-1 Project)
You seem to make a lot of great client connections on 99designs. What advice would you have for designers looking to have more repeat clients?
I think it is important to work with passion, the best recipe is really that you need to like what you do. In the world of capitalism with degraded real values we still need to cultivate some qualities that are much more important than income.
Be 100% professional, be kind and always take a bit more of your effort to make the experience nice for client and designer too. On top of that you need to be up to date with the newest design trends and offer the best product to the client. Also, it is a huge benefit to be able to provide a design solution in multiple and different business branches.
Anything else to add?
Well, I would like to end this interview with my personal gratitude to 99designs for such a nice opportunity to share my opinion and recognizing the quality of my work. It is an amazing platform for connecting clients and designers. I also have met some extremely talented designers here which have been an inspiration for me.
I am really thankful to 99designs and it’s great staff for making all this possible and for taking care of an exceptional community, making it even better each day.
Since 99designs is a place with such great connections I would like to mention one of my designs that is very special to me and end this interview with this beautiful story:
The design for Wolkenpalast Berlin (above), translated it means “Cloud-Palace”, was done for a couple, crazy in love, from Berlin, Germany. The idea was about their own, very special place and a way to achieve harmony. The moon in the design symbolizes unattainable desire and it can be compared to the highest level of happiness in marriage and in life generally – a really long ladder to climb. Those who experience it are the lucky ones 🙂