Our newest artist interview is with Elmer Tranquilino Jr. A freelance graphic designer based in the Philippines and the guy behind the pen name, foggyboxes

We are proud to announce that Elmer is one of the winners from our recent
T-shirt contest which we ran with the global creative platform 99designs!

It was a pleasure working with Elmer. He was very responsive to our feedback and had a lot of creative ideas. We are very pleased with the final artwork

Winning Design for our T-Shirt Design contest

How long have you been using 99designs? and how has your experience been so far?

I signed up at 99designs when I was 18 while I was studying engineering in college. Back then, I was just starting to learn about graphic design which became a hobby. Three years ago, I decided to leave work as an engineer to pursue this creative path. It was crazy how a lot of people have been telling me that I wasted my engineering degree as I changed my career path. In my mind, this is what I have to say to those people, “Sorry, but I am not sorry.” I love this work and a lot of times it feels like this is not work at all.

Right now, I am 25 and doing full-time freelance work as a graphic designer, mostly at 99designs. I still join contests whenever I got enough spare time but mostly I earn more by doing direct client projects.

This career I have chosen, I admit, was quite challenging and hard, especially when I was just starting out. But the learning part of the journey and meeting fellow creatives along the way were some of the things I find fulfilling. A huge thanks to 99designs for the opportunities.

"I think it is worth spending time to browse the right contest which you think you are most confident and interested at!"

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

Well, I feel like I am not yet on a position of giving great advices. With that, I will just speak based from my experience. I think one advice I can give is to carefully choose contests to participate in. 99designs has a lot of contests to choose from so it is worth spending time to browse for the right contest which you think you are most confident and interested at. This will give you higher chances of winning.

We love your hand-lettering style, can you walk us through your process?

Thanks for letting me know that 🙂 About my process, I started out by carefully studying the creative brief. I like the challenge of it and how the brief was very well-written and thought-out with lots of samples. I allotted enough time to let the info sink in, do some research and think about what would be my take on this. 

I like brainstorming and making drafts using pen and paper. That's what I did in this design. It happened that the idea of combining a bulb, a pencil and a plant came in the next morning while I was still playing around with my sketches. I then added a bird inside and some musical notes to fill the other spaces. 

I like the final sketch I came up with. It was like my interpretation of creativity as a designer. The inspiration of this concept mostly came from designs in nature, from particular works I find interesting, as well as from abstract things. Here is how I explain it. This pencil, a common tool for creating, has this kind of source where the ideas are coming from. I visualised it as a light bulb connected to the pencil. Ideas that could be as fertile as a plant or a vine. The bird reminds me of the “muse,” the creative designers’ source of inspiration, producing music making us feel various emotions. Thus, those emotions could possibly reflect on paper using this pencil. 

Then, I worked on putting the design on Illustrator later in the afternoon. I used thick lines for the style, matching the inspirations from the contest brief. I chose yellow, green, orange and black as my main colors.

The entry got the attention of Martin from team YES. He likes the concept and even without my explanation, he understood what I wanted to implore. 

This got selected as one of the finalists in the competition. During the finals, I got a video feedback with very helpful thoughts to improve my work. Although this first draft really went well, Martin encouraged me to explore other possible things to put at the center that something connects more to the creation process. I experimented other possible ideas. See Figure 1 and Figure 2.

Figure 1.

In this one, the idea was using a tablet that
symbolizes a portal to a realm of imagination.
The idea is metaphorical which is quite different with Figure 2.

Figure 2.

In this one, I borrowed the phrase "Learn, Create, Inspire" from the contest brief. I made some sketches and I played around with wavy lines to achieve a smooth and free vibe. See Figure 3.

This one got a very positive feedback. I then added a bird at the top to add a nice small detail giving more life to the composition. 

Figure 3.

The bulk of the work I did was actually coming up with the idea/concept. Putting it on the computer just comes second. More than that, I enjoyed this challenge so much. 

Thank you team YES!

Thank you so much for speaking with us, Elmer. And thank you for creating such a lovely T-shirt Illustration. You can check out more of Elmer's work on 99designs, and​ Dribbble 


Artist Interview with Denis Angelov

About the author 

Shumi Perhiniak

Shumi is a self-taught graphic designer and illustrator who has worked for Toni&Guy, Renaissance Learning, Baker Ross, and many others.

Additionally, she owned a brick-and-mortar stationery shop selling her art prints and now sells wholesale to retailers and online shops under the brand name www.herdesignworld.com.

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