99designs From the Top Designers’ Perspectives

We have had over 10 logos made in the last year from crowdsourcing websites like 99designs.

Here are 2 that we have had done in the last 6 months:

The first one is for a new property we have that has pools on everything from MMA to Nascar to TV shows, and lots of other stuff.  You complete an offer to enter the pool and recieve gift cards and other stuff if you win or place high.

The website is called Offer Pools.

Here is the logo they made for it:

The other design we had made a few months back was for our new Par Program. This stands for People Acquisition and Retention.

This company is focused on companies doing 5+ million a year in gross revenue and have their own products or services. (BTW, if you know any good account managers we need to hire 3-4 to keep up with the demand).

We needed a sleeker, simple, corporate design for this logo. Here is the one we choose and are going with on the site.

My experience has been really awesome.

But thats what everyone says, right?  What about from the designers perspective?

So I reached out to the top designers at 99designs and asked them the following questions:

  • Hi what is your name?
  • For our readers, can you tell us briefly about yourself? (please keep short as possible).
  • How did you discover 99designs and crowdsourcing?
  • How much have you made to date?  How much were you making before doing designs?
  • How do you feel sites like 99designs have changed the graphic design industry?
  • Can you give us the url to your portfolio?
  • Any leaving thoughts?
And here was their answers:

Hi! I’m Shana Cinquegrana (aka: Shanashay). I am currently a full time mommy/artist, but before my daughter was born I was a bartender/artist living in New York City.  I grew up in Minnesota, but came to NY to study fashion design at FIT.  I lived the “artist” life and enjoyed pockets of success showing and selling my paintings in bars/restaurants and in the city for over 10 years, but when Dave and I got pregnant everything had to change.

I needed to find a way to bring in some money, but even more than that, I needed a creative outlet.  The abrupt change in lifestyle brought on by motherhood was challenging, to say the least.  I stumbled across 99designs during one of my many fruitless Craigslist job searches where the only available positions were for non-paying interns. Browsing contests and eventually entering in them became an immediate addiction.  My focus was always fashion illustration, but certain contests were just too fun to pass on, so I got involved.  This forced me to get a real grip on Adobe Illustrator, too.  I had been playing with it for a few years, but really had no clue what I was doing until my crash course in graphic design via 99designs contests, then I began to win and make money.  I have found my niche entering design contests geared toward fashion, beauty, women, and children.

Before 99designs, my income was a reasonably steady flow of cash from bartending.  I lived comfortably enough to enjoy myself, but I really don’t know what I made. Selling paintings supplemented my income. Now I make more than I ever did as a bartender and I no longer have to rely on the service industry to sustain my lifestyle.  I only enter the contests that interest me, so it never feels like work.

I can’t really speak for the graphic design industry because I wasn’t ever employed by it.  I am well aware of those who say crowdsourcing has damaged the industry, and in all fairness I’m sure for some people it has.  My experience, however, has been extremely positive.  The competitive environment fuels me.  Dealing with contest holders and trying to accommodate their wishes while staying true to my own vision has made me a better artist and businesswoman.  I have clients from all over the world now, many of whom refer me to their friends. I am busy. I am happy. I make good money and I have 99designs to thank for that. The cherry on top is that I get to be a full-time mom while I design from home.  Interestingly, the bulk of my wins have come from entrepreneur moms or career women starting their own businesses trying to get ahead in this scary economy.

My website is www.shanashay.com

Even if I got some fabulous job offer (which I would take, by the way, once my baby starts school in the fall), I wouldn’t stop entering 99designs contests.  I love the competition. It is fun.  I have met so many brilliant artists who inspire me, and I love belonging to a growing global community of designers.  I feel connected to a movement and empowered by my freedom to participate in it on my own time.

Shana Cinquegrana

My name is Branko Loncar.  In the design world, I’m also known as Ludibes.  I’m a bit over 30 years old and living in Serbia/Europe. I’m happily married and blessed with an energetic son.  Though I started as an unschooled amateur with design, I managed to build my own style and now I work for several design agencies around the world as a full-time professional designer.

I was introduced to 99designs by a friend two years ago.  At first I was just learning, but everything changed after I won for the first time.  No wonder 99designs has been the most visited site in my browser ever since. 🙂

Lets say I have a decent life here in Serbia thanks to 99designs and clients I meet there.  My average monthly earnings here are equal to one logo contest prize. 😉

Like every revolutionary change, there are good and bad aspects for sure, depending on who’s judging. Personally, 99designs was my school, workplace, and playground, opening many possibilities in life. Of course, clients benefit too. For less money they can expect much much more than they used to when hiring one agency.

Here is the url to my page: www.ludibes.com/work

Branko Loncar

My name is Alex (Aleksandra) Bilusic.  I’m a 30 year old designer living in Zagreb, Croatia.  I have an MA in Graphic Design and Visual Communications and have gained professional experience working at design studios and advertising agencies.  I have worked as an independent graphic designer for the last 3 years.

Google is my friend. 🙂  I was curious if there was a way to get new clients when I quit my last job.  I lurked at various design crowdsourcing sites and job advertising boards and tried out a few of them.  After a while, I decided to stick to 99designs because their system fits my preferences best.

I rather wouldn’t talk about precise figures now, but I make as much (or more) now as a freelancer than I was making before when I was employed as a designer and later as an art director.  What is most important here is the follow-up work from clients whom I have met through 99designs site. They are satisfied with our collaboration and communication during their design contests so they keep coming back to me whenever they need anything else designed.  I have established successful business relationships with them so I do have continuous work.  Shortly: with the current economic situation in my country, I am continuously making more than the average salary here in Croatia.

This is the never-ending story about “no-spec work” with solid arguments pro et contra, but the existence and expansion of such sites has definitely changed the industry a lot.  Personally, I find those changes welcome in many ways since now everyone in the industry has to work harder.  The “big guys” need to keep their clients as those clients have the opportunity to get the same work done faster and cheaper with no loss in quality – which eventually leads to better design.  The other thing is that without such sites I would probably never meet clients from the USA, UK, Australia, etc. since chances that we would just accidentally bump into each other on the internet are very poor.  So in my situation, as it is now, I strongly believe that such sites are way more on the bright side.  As I keep the same professional and ethical standards whoever I work for (or work with), this is a great deal for me both professionally and privately.

Yes, such sites are making huge figures – but hey, they are not Good Samaritans and they do a job just like anyone else; and we can always choose to participate or not.  I have only benefited from their existence, so I believe there is much more on the positive side of the story.  Speaking of 99designs, there is always room for improvement but they keep listening to what their users have to say and it is a hard job to keep both the client and the designer happy.  There are also negative things about crowdsourcing sites but the positive ones outweigh them, at least from where I stand and they are (or should be!) constantly improving.

Here is the url to my website: http://www.alexbilusic.com

Aleksandra Bilusic


My name is Najla Mansour (RotRed).  I am an architect from Homs, Syria.  I am now living in Newcastle, England, doing my masters degree program at Newcastle University in Architecture and Planning Design.

Back in 2009, while I was doing my graduation project, I wanted to see if there was any opportunism to find a graphic design jobs online.  I searched the internet and found some crowdsourcing websites, but 99designs was much more comfortable for me since it posts money via Western Union and it doesn’t ask for a PayPal account when you join.  For anyone who is living in those countries where we are not allowed to get a PayPal or MoneyBookers, the idea of having the money via the Western Union was just perfect!  I wanted to try it out so I won the 9th contest I entered!  After that, I stopped until I graduated and started in a more serious way at the beginning of 2010.

In two years I have made up to $20,000 from 99designs contests and logo store (together) and some more from freelancing jobs that came through seeing my portfolio in 99designs or continued jobs with the same clients after winning their contests.  Before that, I was teaching architectural design at the University of Homs getting paid $350 a month (which was good for the rates in my country).

These sites have changed the industry in a global way.  In one hand, all designers around the world could meet and compete against each other. On the other hand, people could just go and see millions of designs produced by different people from different countries and get a much bigger opportunity to get exactly what they are looking for, not just from one company or one designer.

Here is my contest url: http://99designs.co.uk/people/najla
Here is my logostore url: http://99designs.co.uk/logo-design/store/search?q=@designer%20RotRed

Najla Mansour


I would like to thank each of these designers for letting us in from their perspective 😉

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