No vampires can suck the creativity out of Transylvania-born designer, Reka Karpat—or as you may know her, Bloobyrd Art.
A self-taught specialist in character, mascot and logo design (as well as a 1-to-1 Projects enthusiast), Bloobyrd Art is never afraid to try something new. Find out how she improved her design skills, what briefs catch her eye and how she built off-line friendships with 99designers in her own hometown.
Name: Reka Karpat
99designs handle: Bloobyrd Art
Specialty: Characters and mascots
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hi, I’m Reka (codename Bloobyrd_Art). I’m from Transylvania in Romania, home of the vampires, but I try not to let them get to me. I was born 26 years ago into a humble little family, with some artistic ancestry on my mother’s side, though I’d like to think I started doing art by my own free will.
I formally studied cinematography, photography and philosophy, but one day I just realized that the only thing I truly enjoy doing (and am best at) is drawing, so maybe I should stop experimenting and work on that (I’m 100% self-taught).
How did you first get into design?
Considering myself to be mainly a graphic artist, it was only through chance that I tried my hand at design. I had just left my job as a video game tester, and started a new risky one as a semi-video game artist (I made flash games for kids at a start-up company).
Since I was getting better at working with vectors, I also started entering 99designs contests to try my luck. I first entered illustration and mascot contests, but my admiration towards logo designers pushed me to also leap into that unknown territory.
Describe your typical day.
I wake up in the morning feeling like P. Diddy, so I dedicate the first few hours to enjoying my coffee and creating mental plans for the day. If I’m not at all in the mood to work, I do some soul searching and convince myself of the opposite. I then continue working on my current project, check if any new contests or opportunities arise or if I have any communication from clients.
The rest is usually random. Some days I work till midnight, other times I spend more time slacking and just enjoying life in general. This, I think, is the charm of freelance life, the unpredictability and flexibility of your work schedule.
What inspires you?
Nothing inspires me quite like a well-written, interesting design brief. I love the ones that make your brain-cogs move with every added word and force you to envision the design subconsciously while reading it. Other than that examining successful designs, trying different things and starting new projects are always things that get me going.
What are your hobbies, other than design?
I’ve always had a bit of ADHD, and was always intrigued by any potential new hobby I discovered. I even took up knitting once! Table tennis, volleyball, singing, guitar, piano, photography, movies, blogging, reading, philosophy, a bit of coding, hiking… those are things I’ve been involved with. But nowadays, I mainly paint and play video games.
Well, that sounds boring, so I have to add that I do also decorate my days with just random, spontaneous and incredibly fun activities.
What’s your most memorable project on 99designs?
My first win on 99designs was the most awesome experience so far. Kim, the client, makes handcrafted jewelry in New York, and wanted a cool, sexy redhead mascot with a torch and an acetylene tank. She was super nice to work with, and thankfully she fell in love with my second submission in her contest.
We worked together closely. I made a considerable amount of small revisions until we were both satisfied with the result. She’s such an awesome person that not only did she send me a pair of earrings as a bonus “thank you”, but later she even got a tattoo on her arm based on my design. It was such an honor, and I’ll never forget her or this whole experience. It was a giant ego booster, and just fun times all around.
Tell us what you’ve learned since joining 99designs.
I’ve learned not to take myself and my ego seriously, but to be dead serious about my work.
99designs is excellent at pushing you to do better than your best. This platform is competition-based, but most importantly you constantly compete against yourself.
Also, all of the feedback I’ve received in contests gave me a better insight into clients’ mindsets, which is invaluable information. As beginner designers, we tend to make designs for us, based on what we like, but I’ve learned to mix that with what works best for the particular company.
How have the friendships you built in our designer community helped your design skills?
So there was this one designer on 99designs that I admired a lot, and I reached out to him for some advice. He was very friendly and helpful and as we got to know each other better we realized that not only were we from the same country, but we were also in the same city. That awkward moment when we switched from English to Romanian!
So we met up for a coffee, he offered me a lot of useful tips and told me about a little group of people who meet up every Saturday for 4-5 hour sketching sessions. He was nice enough to let me tag along, and since then my drawing skills have improved considerably, and I even found new friends to bond with over art (and sometimes Diablo 3!).
It’s weird but amazing that I met a group of awesome people in my own city through 99designs, and I might have never met them otherwise in this overpopulated world.
It looks like you have a repeat client for 1-to-1 Project. What is it do you think you’re doing that keeps them coming back?
At one point I won a contest with a cute little monster mascot design. The client, Guido (a young web and UI designer from Italy) loved my style so much, that now I’m one of his go-to illustrators.
I think what made him stick with me was that we’re like-minded when it comes to aesthetics, and we’re both passionate about our projects and don’t mind going the extra mile to arrive to a design we’re proud of.
We’ve worked on mascots and logos together, and are thinking of even making a mobile game together, which is awesome! I’m very happy that I met him through 99designs, I never expected to find a long-term client here.
Even though contests are fun and challenging, I kind of prefer working 1-on-1 with clients, because the communication is always better, and that’s key to reaching a good final design.
What would you tell yourself from 3 years ago?
“Hey, past me! Fix that hair, it looks terrible on you! No, but seriously, stop being lazy! You become an artist by relentlessly making art. Stop whatever you’re distracting yourself with and do what you love to do, the rest will work itself out! Now let’s go grab a beer and discuss time-travel.”
What do you do differently on 99designs now compared to when you first joined 2 years ago?
Wow, I can’t even measure how much I’ve grown since joining this site. At the beginning I was nowhere skill-wise, I only knew the basics of Illustrator. Now I can confidently say that if someone needs a logo, mascot or illustration, I can provide a quality design, thanks to my experience here.
What do you think you would be doing if you weren’t on 99designs?
I would probably be struggling on some other freelancing platforms, or I’d still be working as a game / software tester. It was very important to me that I could take a break from full-time jobs and focus on enhancing my skills.
And even though my goal is to work full time as a game artist, I want to continue working on 99designs on the side, mostly because of the fun factor and the challenge. It’s definitely been quite a ride so far!
Anything else you’d like to add?
I like turtles.