Our latest artist interview is with freelance illustrator Denis Angelov from Sofia, Bulgaria. We are proud to announce that Denis was one of the winners from our recent T-shirt contest which we ran with the global creative platform 99designs!

Denis is a very talented illustrator with a unique style. He interpreted our brief perfectly and came up with a brilliant composition that we fell in love with straight away. He was also very responsive to our feedback and managed to improve an already great illustration even further. Cannot be happier with the final artwork!

Winning Design for our T-Shirt Design contest

Do you want to learn about Graphic Design and Illustration? 

Check out the below video to learn more on how we reviewed some of our favourite T-shirt contest on 99designs.

How was your experience in using crowd-sourcing sites such as 99designs?

To be honest, I only ever used 99designs for freelance work since it's the one that appeals to me the most.
I like the freedom of being able to enter contests whenever I want and I believe one can build a stable income by doing what they love most. Which in my case is making illustrations. It's always a great feeling to see your work is appreciated by a client, especially when you are competing against a lot of talented designers. 

Last but not least, I really enjoy the variety of topics / themes you can work on. This often leads to me dipping my toes into brand new waters for a project's theme, which I find very interesting and most likely would not have done that type of work otherwise.

"A designer has a  greater chance at winning a contest, if they concentrate on one or two at a time!"

What tips will you give to anyone thinking of entering design contest?

First and foremost - quality over quantity. I think a designer has a much greater chance at winning a contest, if they concentrate on one or two at a time. Despite the fact that there are hundreds of contests you can enter, try and find the one that you feel connected to and trust your gut. 

I honestly don't think that your work will be at its finest, if you're just spending fifteen to twenty minutes on a contest and entering as many competitions as you can. I believe clients can always tell when you've done your job carefully while paying attention to their brief. Portfolio-wise, I also think it would be beneficial to showcase a selection of a few strong designs, rather than a lot of rushed ones.

Stage 1

Stage 2

Stage 3

We love your illustration style, can you walk us through your process?

Thank you so much! I'm very proud of the way this design came out and I'm thankful for all the fantastic feedback you have provided throughout the competition. The first thing I did once I decided to enter the contest was to make a big cup of coffee and sit down to do some thumb-nailing. Trying to come up with a strong concept. 

At this stage I'm not at all concerned with the way things look and I always have, what I like to call, an ugly sketchbook, which is use specifically used for quick concepts, thumbnails and notes. Once I figured out a metaphor I liked, I move onto cleaning up the sketch a bit more, concentrating on the composition, the character and the pose. This can normally take anywhere between 5 and 10 sketches. Once I am satisfied and then I can move on to doing the Lineart. 

I work in mixed media a lot, I enjoy drawing the Lineart traditionally (in this case with a soft pencil to get the uneven and rhythmic quality of the line) and afterwards scan it and place it in Photoshop. 

Next I move to colouring while keeping in mind the palette I come up with and the colours I'd like to use. I mostly use a lot of desaturated colours, that have a bit of a retro vibe to them, and enjoy overall softer palettes but, in this particular case, I got some great feedback on how to make the design pop a bit more, so I experimented with brighter more colourful tones. 

The final details I like to work on is the shading and the light. I love making textures and marks, so for this design I used some pencil and chalk textures that I drew on watercolour paper to give the illustration a more traditional and analogue look.

Thank you so much for speaking with us, Denis. And thank you for creating such a lovely T-shirt Illustration. You can check out more of Denis work on 99designs, Instagram and website and if you fancy buying the T-shirt  then click here!


Artist Interview with Andrea Stan

About the author 

Shumi Perhiniak

Shumi is a self-taught graphic designer, in 2012 she took one-year sabbatical career break, where she devoted her time studying Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator. In just after 6 months she started freelancing and within a year become a Certified Photoshop Expert. Over the years she worked both in-house and in agency roles as a retoucher, artworker and moved on from junior to senior design roles.

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