After just six months of participation on 99designs, Djordje Makovic (aka MegaOptimus) has bowled us over with his aptitude for interactive designs: games, apps and other products that entail a dynamic give-and-take with the user.
We spoke with him about how he transitioned from more conventional training to this exceptional skill set. Read on for our conversation.
Name: Djordje Markovic
99designs handle: MegaOptimus
Location: Novi Sad, Serbia
Specialty: App design
We always like to start with the question: what was the path that led you to 99designs?
From my childhood I had a huge passion for video games, and I was always curious about making them. But since I was good at drawing, I decided to follow the path of graphics instead of programming. I went to a specialized high school for graphic design and continued to study it later at Academy of Arts in Novi Sad.
All those years of graphic design, but I never actually liked it. I graduated as quickly as possible to escape the world of posters, business cards and other things I didn’t like. I tried working on a couple of projects on 99designs, but didn’t like it so I moved on.
For next three years I worked on various things, striving to return to my original dream: making interactive design—apps and games in specific.
And once you achieved that, you found your way back to working on such projects on 99designs?
You make it sound easy to just go out and acquire new, rather different skill sets. How do you do it?
I always pay attention on how things are made, so down the road I can try making them on my own. It’s a combination of technical knowledge, practice, observation, and overall artistic experience, which could be collectively called “a passion.”
When I don’t know how to do something, I take some time and learn it. The Internet is a blessing in this respect. I’m glad you like my work, but I expect it to be much better in future.
We also noticed that you have a very keen eye for color—your app designs are often very vibrant. What do you think is the role of color in design?
Actually, it surprises me that you say that, as I have always seen that as my biggest flaw! But, yes, I knew I had to work on that if I wanted to make nice apps. The role of color is very important here indeed. It calls attention to certain parts of an app, like notifications, buttons, etc., but it also brings out the character of the app.
What is your process for determining that character?
When I read a briefing, I put myself in user’s place to get a picture in my head: “What would I, as a user of xxx app, like?” Then I search for inspiration in some already existing apps to match the picture and work from that. I usually have about 10 screenshots of different apps, games, posters, logos, etc. open while making my own. But in the end, I usually end up making something completely different.
Where else do you find inspiration? Is there a lot going in your local city, Novi Sad?
I use a lot of apps and play a lot of games, but the major source of inspiration while working is Pinterest.
As for Novi Sad, it actually does have a decent amount of cultural events, but I have to say I rarely visit them. Just being honest, hehe.
What would you say are the most difficult or frustrating aspects of app design, and what are the most interesting or rewarding aspects?
This isn’t just a frustrating aspect of app design, but of all creative work: sometimes you just can’t make the magic happen. But that’s normal, and when it comes back, it’s really rewarding.
The big thing about apps and games that keeps me interested is that people actually use the design. Users literally interact with it, and this gives another level of challenge—to make it intuitive, simple, clean, catchy and fun so that the user will want to use it.
Tell us, what are your career aspirations now that you’ve found your niche?
I would really like to bring together a team of nice and fun people with whom to make inspiring apps, games and, who knows, maybe even more than that!