Name: Loida Yu
99designs handle: simeonmarco
Projects won: 190
If you’re interested in the world of greeting cards, then Loida Yu (aka simeonmarco) is the designer to talk to. With a background in accounting, she taught herself photography and design — invitation cards being her specialty!
And we really do mean “specialty” as she has a 91% win rate on 99designs. Loida talks about how her knowledge in design has helped her photography, and why it’s important for all designers to find a niche and hone their skills. Here is Loida’s story.
How did you get started in design?
I can’t remember when I got started in art and design. All I know is I was born with so much love for all things “artsy”. I studied Accountancy in college and had no formal education in design — everything has been self-taught. I played a lot with design software and discovered new skills by “googling” free tutorials.
While working as an accountant, I was able to make an extra living in designing invitation cards and photographing children. I got a few clients while designing and photographing and in 2009, decided to leave the corporate world to become a full-time designer and photographer. I became a mom in 2010 and now I design while taking care of my baby.
How has being a designer helped your photography business?
My designs influence my photos and my photos influence my designs. As a designer, I learn to see colors and relationships between shapes in a unique way, and I carry that with me when I’m shooting. I believe my design skills are subconsciously changing the way I shoot without me even knowing it.
A lot of rules between photography and graphic design may differ, but for me learning design has improved my photography. Design helps me answer quick questions while taking photos: “why am I shooting in this specific way” or “can I eliminate some elements to better focus on the desired message I’m communicating”?
99designer simeonmarco is self-taught in photography and design.
Describe your design style.
I love “minimalism”. I also don’t have a favorite color for my designs because I love them all. I can’t say that I don’t love other design styles, but I am more motivated in creating clean and simple designs. I just love connecting simple things together to create a great masterpiece.
What led you to start using 99designs?
My husband introduced me to 99designs — a friend told him about it. But when 99designs first appeared on my computer, I was overwhelmed with all the creative winnings and didn’t join contests right away. I just started browsing design briefs for a few weeks, until I saw a contest that motivated me to join in June 2011. I started loving the challenge of joining more contests, and I got addicted to 99designs in just few weeks! Surprisingly in just a month, I was chosen for 99designs’ Top 9 at 99 for July 2011. I continued winning and this experience gave me the motivation to keep on designing at 99designs. I didn’t expect I could win 82 contests in 6 months!
Joining 99designs contests is like a hobby for me now, but earning cash while doing what you love is really amazing! Even if I’m a self-taught designer with no formal education in design, it hasn’t stopped me from believing I can do it just like other professional designers.
What do you think is the most important part of the design process?
It’s the design idea that matters. This process is the most important to me because it helps me organize a design, eliminate unimportant elements and focus only on what will create beauty in the whole design. I definitely cannot put a spark of uniqueness in my invitation designs without going through this creative process. This is the process where I come up with keywords and transform it into certain objects, shapes and more. Then comes the second round of evaluating the design elements.
What are the 3 most important things that designers can do to have success?
1. Find a niche that makes you stand out in a crowd. In my case, my love for invitation cards often gives an edge over people who are better artists than me. Some are excellent in logos, banners and illustrations which give them an edge over other great designers. But make sure it’s something you really love to do and not for the sake of competing in the market. Find your own style. Your work should inspire you, and the joy you put into it will always be evident.
2. Accept rejection and be persistent. I’ve had plenty of my submissions get rejected. Rejection doesn’t mean your work isn’t good, you just have to adjust, and prepare to send out another batch of submissions.
3. Hone your skills. As a greeting card designer, I spend a lot of time looking at cards. I observe how a design elements work together, and how different card designs are appealing. The more I learn about cards, the more I learn to determine my own style. Train yourself. Nothing happens overnight — it takes countless hours, practice and patience. Keep improving your design style and try introducing new ones.
How would you sum up graphic design in one sentence?
Graphic design is indeed worth a thousand words. Graphic design is everything we see around us, turned into an artistic masterpiece!
In your opinion, what separates great design from good, poor and mediocre design?
A good design must be able to communicate. A poor design keeps things vague.
A good design achieves its purpose. Mediocre design never reaches its desired audience.
I believe great design has it all. It’s beautiful, effective and functional. It’s not just attractive, not just effective, not just functional — it has everything! It’s the “platypus” design of 99designs.
Is there anything else you’d like to add? Now is the time to tell us. 🙂
I am not someone who can teach other designers because I’m still learning too. I had no formal education in graphic design, and sometimes it’s difficult to compete with the most talented and experienced designers. However, I discovered everybody can be an expert in something when a lot of time and effort is put into it.