Name: S. Riz
Location: Toronto, Canada
99designs handle: Terry Bogard
Projects won: 92
How did you get started in design?
Well I remember in school, my classroom’s bulletin board was filled with my drawings. My mom did quite a bit of drawing and my father was a very good poet, so I think I was born with the artist genes.
Plus, I was lucky enough to have a lot of creative friends. One of my friends and I used to sketch fighting game characters and made storyboards for games just for fun.
The first creative competition I ever entered was to design (shape) a game console for a worldwide contest. Later in 1993 when ATARI Jaguar (game console) was launched, I was happy to see that the design actually had a little bit of the angles I proposed. This alone felt like an achievement and motivated me to do small identity design projects from time to time.
Later on I started working with a design studio where I learned more about identity design and market dynamics. That was the start of it really. I have no formal design education or background- I am self-taught.
How do find your inspiration?
I think inspiration can come from anywhere—from an individual atom to the entire universe and everything in between. It’s all about observation and bringing your memory of visuals together for the right brand, at the right time, with the right combination(s) and when the need arises.
But that does not mean that I’m just another creative junkie who is waiting for his next design hallucination. There is a process that formulates this creativity.
I think a product has both functional and emotional attributes. The functional attributes are the brand’s promise to its consumers, while the window to its emotional attributes is what design is really all about.
Although design process will vary depending on the project, my most basic practice is to do a 20 second visual check where I brainstorm the keyword(s) that best describe the business or project I am working on. The idea is to know what emotions those keywords generate and what image those emotions translate into from a consumer standpoint.
What led you to start using 99designs?
I was at my office desk randomly looking at designs on sitepoint.com to pass some time, when I came across 99designs.com. I thought it was a great idea for both businesses and designers to come together on a platform that offers creativity from around the globe.
I participated in a few contests just for fun and noticed that my designs were getting a lot of attention. I pretty much felt the same as I did when I entered the video game console-design contest back in my teens.
After my first several contests I won one, and that’s when I started doing it more and more. Since then, the experience has been phenomenal and there has been a huge learning curve throughout. Watching the world design has helped me improve and deliver better each and every time. 50% of the projects that I won ended up with follow-on work.
In fact there were times when even though I did not win, I was contacted and offered work. It helped me build a great portfolio and understand market dynamics. I have also made many friends from all over the world who have been extremely helpful and very appreciative. These are all very talented people with very respectful and professional attitude for the trade. I think 99designs is the only site that I have seen with so many contests running at the same time, so it’s a big opportunity to make money too.
What are the three most important things that designers can do to have success at 99designs.com?
I get asked this question a lot via private message but nobody ever asked about three things… LOL! Well, success for me is an ongoing process on 99designs.com, and it’s hard to close the box with 3 things only.
As I mentioned earlier, it’s important to deeply consider brand & consumer psychology. Here’s my advice for those who have recently joined 99designs:
- Enter as many projects as you can to get a firm grasp on the whole process, from presenting a design to evolving it as necessary. This not only increases your chances of winning but also puts you in a design-groovy-mode and helps you to consistently generate creative ideas. It very soon becomes a chain reaction and everyone else tries to deliver better and better.
- Do a little research before drafting ideas and look at other designs to make sure your draft is not similar to anyone else’s. This will help you to not waste time on a design that someone else has already made and allow you to invest your time in something unique.
- Explain your thought process if you do something outside of what the client described in the brief – After all, you might be able to produce and envision something that the client did not. Have a positive influence on the community by being appreciative of others for constructive criticism. It has always helped me learn in one-way or another.
What do you love most about being a designer?
I think I’m no different than other creatives in terms of enjoying their work. I can simply put it this way – I love being paid for doing what I enjoy.
Imagine being paid to have fun, eat and sleep. Designing is my passion and every creation of mine makes me feel great regardless if its sold or not. But getting paid to be passionate is just great.