Peter Takacs (aka Wintrygrey) got his start designing album covers and merchandise for metal bands. But when he found 99designs in 2012, his hobby began to transform into a tangible career. He quickly began winning contests and loved how easy it was to connect with clients around the globe.

While he’s still a big music fan these days, he now gravitates towards the beer and coffee industries, where he has more creative freedom to express his own style. Great client relationships keep him going—especially when the client sends a photo of his work in real life later on (who wouldn’t love that?).

We chatted with Wintrygrey about how he cultivated his style, his favorite projects and his top advice for new clients.

Wintrygrey overlooking the Duna (in Hungarian) or Danube river in Budapest

Name: Peter Takacs
99designs handle: Wintrygrey
Location: Hungary
Specialty: Branding & packaging design

Tell us a little about yourself.

Currently, I live in Budapest (Hungary), and I really like this city. I’m 29 years old and also a big music fan. As a kid I used to draw a lot, and I remember that my beloved grandmother always said to me, “You are going to be doing this when you grow up.” And she was right. Drawing has always been a big part of my life.

I think when I was about 16 or 17, I started using Photoshop—first just for fun (that was when things were getting more digital). Afterwards, I realized I can express a lot of things with it and totally fell in love with designing. At that time I simply mixed pictures in Photoshop or affected my own scans, photos and drawings.

After a while, I started working with metal bands and creating cover art and merch stuff for them (something I still do to this day). But I always thought that this would just be a hobby in my life. So that’s how it started…

How did you get started on 99designs?

So, as I said, I thought that designing would remain a hobby in my life until I found 99designs. I started entering contests and managed to win one very quickly. I was totally happy and almost didn’t believe it.

I’ve learnt a lot of things on the site. It’s a really great opportunity to show yourself and your talent to clients.

Perfect Moment IPA
You’ve experimented with quite a few styles. How do you decide on the right look for each project?

I’m a self-taught designer, and I think it’s a really cool way to learn. I always want to try new things and see the design from a different perspective. I really like vintage, Art Nouveau, minimalism and Pop Art, but I always try to find my own way outside the boundaries of any style.

It depends on what I see fitting, based on the brief. If something comes to my mind—even if it doesn’t totally fit, but could become a really out of the box design—I trust my intuition and let these ideas come to life. It’s a great feeling when you see your ideas in a physical form. The whole process feels like some sort of alchemy to me. My goal is always to make a timeless design, which can catch attention and serve the client and company well.

Do you have a favorite industry to design for?

Of course! The beer and especially the craft beer industry. I really like to make labels, because it usually gives me a lot of creative freedom to express my own style. And, of course, I like great beers, too, and always inspect the label on the bottles and cans first. My other favorite is the coffee industry for the same reasons.

What do you wish clients always knew before starting a design project?

Before you hire a designer, do some research on the price ranges. Here’s a good article about it.

Also, if you have done some brainstorming and have some ideas, send them to the designer. But at the same time, allow for creative freedom as well. Don’t force things that don’t work, because the designer might have a better eye for these kind of things. As long as both of you communicate well throughout the whole process, you can be sure that the outcome will be satisfying.

And one last thing: deadlines are not just for the designers, so keep this in mind also.

beer label design by Wintrygrey
Swear Jar IPA
Do you have a favorite client or project you’ve worked on? Tell us about it!

Fortunately, I have a lot of favorite clients and projects, so I can’t choose just one. A lot of times it happens that a good relationship is established between me and the client.

It’s always a great feeling when the client sends me a photo with a message like this: “Hey dude, this is what your work looks like printed on a bottle and everyone in the company is really proud of it.” And they have trust in you and they always find you with new ideas, and want to work with you over and over again. So, it’s really cool when the process goes well, because both of you are satisfied with the outcome.

If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger designer self?

Don’t work in RGB color mode if you make cover art that will be printed out!

And just for fun, what’s your favorite…
  • Late night snack: Biscuits, chocolates and fruit
  • Music to design to: Hard to choose! It depends on my mood, but it needs to be real music like Tool. I really listen to a lot of different genres, but I prefer live music.
  • Place to relax: Nature, forests, hills and mountains
  • Hobby: I’m a bit confused… does designing count as a hobby or work? 😀 Anyways, I’m often going out to gigs and really like to read books.

Some last words… I want to thank Kelsey for this interview and the whole 99designs team. I’m happy to be the part of this great community.

Check out more of Wintrygrey’s work here.