We caught up with Maja Dakic, a.k.a. adhocdaily, about her work and her life since moving from Serbia to Australia. Read on for her recommendations of design resources for self-taught graphic artists, plus a peek at the thought process behind all of those simple yet distinctive logo designs of hers that we know and love.
Name: Maja Dakic
Location: Maidstone, Australia
99designs handle: adhocdaily
What brought you from your home country, Serbia, to the Melbourne area?
I came to Australia six years ago, driven by my heart (love). In Serbia I was working as an administrator in the sport fashion industry and earning a degree in international marketing, but after coming to Australia and starting a family, my life took a turn in a very different direction.
Is that when you began to design?
Yes. I first encountered the profession via Freelancer.com, which I had found while browsing the web. I had no previous design experience whatsoever, but decided right then and there to switch gears. I am a very competitive persons and I like challenges, so contests were a perfect place for me.
And this led you to 99designs.
Correct – and when I found 99designs I was delighted! The quality of designers was much higher than on Freelancer, which really raised the bar for me. So I quit Freelancer for 99designs and sat down to write out my goals, which were to start learning design skills and working on my development as a graphic artist in a serious manner.
I read a ton of material about branding, marketing and design, and acquainted myself with the CorelDRAW software. Blogs helped a lot as well. I spent then and still spend hours and hours behind my computer, reading and learning.
Are there any specific resources you would recommend to people in the position you were in? Or design principles that really stuck with you?
“Less is more” is a phrase that really stuck with me. While browsing the net I discovered a totally new world – the world of minimalism. My favorite book about this subject is Minimalism, Simplicity and Rules of Design by Dr. Hartmut Obendorfand. I think that every designer should read it.
I was also interested in negative space. On that subject I would recommend the book Effective Use of Negative Space in Graphic Design, by Dong Hyun Lee. As for blogs, there are some very useful ones about brand identity, like Creative Market (and for people who don’t know what this is all about, I would recommend reading this post on designing brand identity by Jacob Cass).
Are there any designs of yours that you are particularly proud of? What was your process that brought you to the concept?
There was a very challenging contest where the client was determined to have a light bulb in his logo. In that kind of situation, no matter how clever your idea is, the chances that someone has already come up with something very similar are huge. It gets more and more difficult to create original logos as we’re all surrounded by the same influences and exposed to the same shapes, forms, and patterns.
How do you overcome that?
When I am faced with that kind of situation first thing that I do is tell myself, “someone has undoubtedly already thought of this. What can I do to really set it apart?” Then I start drawing and making a logo concept, treating it almost like a puzzle.
For example, I draw a light bulb and then start twisting it, shaping it, cutting it and trying to include some smart elements. It comes out looking like a mess or kid’s drawing. Throughout this whole process I keep in my mind that somebody has thought of this or that shape already. Usually, in that phase an idea is born and suddenly all the pieces, so to speak, come to make sense and form a whole. All I need to do after that is put that idea in vector shape, and voila!
Do you have any other recommendations for designers in contests?
It is very important that, as a designer, you have a good relationship with a client: fast response to feedback, lots of work and, most importantly, dedication to the project. These are the main things in building a successful relationship with a client. I am driven by customer satisfaction and appreciate every bit of feedback that I receive.
How do you like living in Maidstone? It’s not far from 99designs’ Melbourne office! What inspires you there creatively?
We love it here. All my free time I am spending with my family. When you have 5-year-old girl in the house, every day is new adventure for you. She loves arts and crafts, drawing and painting. Sometimes I even learn from her. I have to say that I couldn’t do this without my husband and family’s support.
I also have to say that Serbia has a lot of talented artists as well — some of whom are right here on 99designs as well.
What do you think is next for you?
The process of self-development is ongoing. The more you learn, the more you realize that the knowledge you have is not sufficient. One day I would like to be a famous designer, but I am only a halfway there. Years of learning and improvement are still in front of me.