designer profile – hoshimo
July 18, 2009
One of the things I most enjoy is connecting with the people who use 99designs on a regular basis and hearing all about their experiences. A while back I was able to meet up with a prolific member of our design community who resides right here in the city I call home – San Francisco, California.
Brian Tom – San Francisco, California
99designs handle: hoshimo
Projects entered: 500+
Projects won: 74
How did you get into design?
Well I failed chemistry so I went into design. I got an Associate in Arts degree at City College of San Francisco and since then I’ve really just been looking for work and things like that. 99designs started out just as a hobby for me and it became really enjoyable so that’s how I got into it.
I randomly found 99designs online. I entered a few contests and I honestly didn’t think I would win anything. After about my 20th contest…I won and it was actually a lot of fun so I started doing more.
Tell me about your experience with the design community at 99designs so far?
So far it’s been great. There have been a lot of supportive designers from all over the world. They give you tips and they help you…you know…you toss back and forth design tips and feedback. It’s the feedback really that is most important to me just because I work at home as a freelance designer so I don’t have too many people around me saying “oh you know Brian… this is not so good or Brian this looks great” It helps a lot.
What have you learned as a result of participating in the 99designs community?
I focus mainly on logo designs at 99designs, so I’m learning a lot of different things about how to minimize your design yet having it speak boldly, or learning how to use typography effectively in a logo. Things like that have really helped me a lot especially when it comes to working with some of the more experienced designers on the site. One of the biggest things I’m continuing to learn is how to effectively blend the mission of a company with the style that they are looking for and coming up with a simple graphic element that tells a story that is unique. I think designers who are successful in this really pull away from the rest of the crowd.
Do you have any tips for other designers in the community?
From my own personal experience on 99designs I tend to design stuff before I look at the other submissions. When I do look at the submissions it can hinder or box up my creativity. It is important for designers to respect and value their own personal creativity. Then before submitting, I check out the other designs to make sure I’m not too close to anyone else’s.
Read the brief and design according to it. I’ve seen contests where it’s titled “Logo for Dog Tag Shop” and you see submissions for a pet store when in reality it’s a store for custom military-style Dog Tags. Additionally, I see a lot of generic submission that has nothing special or unique to that particular company. Reading the brief allows a design that has more depth and meaning to it.
Has using 99designs lead to additional work to help you build your business?
Oh yeah…that’s half the fun! I think at least half the design contests I win results in the contest holder coming back to me and asking about getting business cards or website graphics and things like that. If they love the work that you do and they love your style then it makes sense that they would go back to you for additional work and even refer you to their friends. All of my closest client relationships and the bulk of my freelance work has come from the results I’ve had in past 99designs contests.
What about a tip for contest holders?
If you utilize the star ratings and give lots and lots of feedback, you will receive 10x more submissions that are closer to what you’re looking for. Write a clear brief and provide links to examples that you love to help give us a better idea on where to start. Tell us a story that is unique to your business. Don’t be afraid to eliminate designs, and probably most importantly, when choosing a design, don’t do it yourself. Get as many friends, coworkers, business partners and even close clients as you can, to help you decide and give you suggestions. Having more eyes on the project can really help identify which design resonates the best.