Name: S. Riz
Location: Toronto, Canada
99designs handle: Terry Bogard
What is your background in art and design?
I had the creative knack since childhood and used to actively participate in all the art events at my school. I pursued my bachelors in business informatics while realizing my creative abilities on my own.
I joined a small design agency at an early age which led me to understand the nature of the trade and develop my skills further. I think 99designs has been a huge learning curve for me due to its competitive nature. Being challenged each and everyday raises the creative bar for a designer, and 99designs played a crucial role in my development.
Can you share with us your overall experiences on 99designs over the past few years?
When I joined 99designs, the community was not as huge as it is today, but it was still the biggest design community of its time. I have been fortunate to come across some extremely talented individuals with whom I have developed great friendships. If I start to name everyone it’ll be a long list of very creative people, but they know who they are.
Relationships at 99designs are one thing I cherish the most. Not only with designers but also with contest holders and clients who I continue to do business with from time to time. Because of my exposure through 99designs I have been contacted by many marketing and branding agencies to work as a freelance designer for them.
What’s the most important part of the design process for you?
I think design is not just a fancy picture with some colors and ripples; it is a solution that interacts and derives behavior between a business & consumer. I think the most important part of a design process is the ability to visualize a company’s core values and translate those values into a visual-solution.
My favorite part of the process besides getting paid, is when I lay out all my ideas on a piece of paper with my pencil. That’s when I am able to look at all my ideas on one drawing board and figure out which one of them really stood out and made the most sense. It is a great exercise.
Tell us an interesting fact about yourself.
An interesting fact about me is that I still work full time as a finance professional. 🙂 Design is a passion that runs in my blood.
What is a hobby that you enjoy doing outside of graphic design?
I love reading books related to history and psychology. Also I occasionally write poetry. However I hardly get any free time, any time I have is usually spent with my 3 year old daughter.
Do you have any helpful tips or words of encouragement for other designers?
Well, I get asked this question via PM almost once every month by new talent and I always try to give them a few tips. Encouragement will automatically come as soon as you win a contest.
The winning itself derives the motivation to participate more, and to get that motivational win I would say:
Always enter contests that you know you can win. Meaning, a designer by reading the brief should know that the style he/she is strong in can best be utilized in this contest. Otherwise it becomes a lottery. I think a designer should know his strengths and enter contest that best fits their style and visualization. And they can work on their weaknesses by entering other contests to improve their skills.
What has been one of your biggest motivators or points of inspiration?
My biggest motivation was actually my first win. Victory itself is an element to performance. Success paves the way for the next challenge. I remember there were a time when I did not win any contests for 20 contests I entered and pretty much lost interest. But all of a sudden I bagged a win and it acted as a fuel, and that week I won 2 contests in a row. Negative feedback from CH should never let you down.
There is an old saying, “Expect the worse, get the best.” It’s an opportunity to understand the diversity of the business/people/corporations and also polish yourself. Remember, a diamond has no beauty until it is carved by a harder material.