Greetings and salutations, dear DevriX blog readers!
Our favorite initiative continues. Over the past months, we have interviewed our:
- Recruiter – Molly.
- Front-end team lead – Tony.
- Marketing coordinator – Elly.
- Project coordinator – Reni.
- Backend developer – Emo.
A graphic designer drives the creative force of every organization. Be it making graphics for blog posts, social media creatives, or creating designs for the websites of our clients.
Today, we’ll be talking with one of our graphic/web designers – Nikolay Yovkov. Read on, as we discuss what are his favorite aspects of design, the common mistakes beginner designers make, and the upcoming World Cup in Qatar.
A Day in the Life of a Graphic Designer
Hello, Niki, thank you for being my guest today. For starters, I would like you to present yourself briefly – your hobbies, education, etc.
Hi, I’m Niki, I work in the field of graphic and web design. My hobbies include sports, I mostly enjoy playing and watching football. I’ve also played different types of sports like swimming, taekwondo, badminton – a lot of sports. Although my most serious sport was badminton which I played during the last few years before I graduated from school. Then I had to give it up for a bit, because I moved to Sofia.
At the moment, I’m studying Business Management Information Systems at the Technical University of Sofia, third year course.
From the point of view of someone who combines work and education, how do you have enough time to deal with both?
Well, it’s hard (laughing). I would even say that managing both at times is an overstatement. In terms of responsibility, a lot of things in university are relative. There are on the spot changes, quite often. Some things happen, some don’t, some happen at the wrong time.
In general, being at the office for at least 8 hours a day, and having to travel to the university almost every day, means that quite regularly I have to work later in the evenings. Thankfully, at the end of the semester, everything is usually okay.
You don’t have time to feel bored, then?. You recently celebrated 1 year with the company, congratulations! In line with one of our core values, which is to evolve and adapt, what would you say has changed for you this year? Have your obligations changed over the year, and how?
Evolve and adapt, I can totally relate to that. I started working here with little-to-no experience, and I’ve gained a lot of insight on the best practices, and things not to do working with clients. For example, and regarding my duties and responsibilities, from the day I started, I began working on a task for a client, which was rather interesting.
Now, I try to take the best and most useful aspects, and learn from different people. Overall, I have noticed great developments regarding the technical execution of tasks, professional behavior, communication skills. I would say I’ve become rather well-rounded jobwise.
To what extent would you say that working with clients is more exhausting than working by yourself, and would you want to work with clients again, some day?
Working with clients is always interesting. You have to always expect the unexpected, you need to take a different approach according to each client’s needs. I would definitely work with clients again in the future, because it builds up your confidence and skills faster compared to calmly working on a product. With clients, you learn to navigate problematic situations that you would never encounter working on products only. Working with clients really builds you, it really helps.
You learn to be flexible.
Yes, it’s true.
Okay, another interesting fact about you is that you were invited to attend a sports academy. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
That happened when I was in the 7th grade, and before applying to a high school. Here, in Bulgaria, we apply to high schools in the 8th grade, and you need to decide where you want to go education wise.
For context, I was at a badminton competition, and my team was a bit of an underdog. Overall, we did pretty good – we were first in our group, and we finished 3rd in the national competition. Then, some people from Veliko Turnovo, who were attending the competition, and were from the sports academy invited me and my partner to continue our education and development there. They contacted us a couple of times, but my parents decided that it was not serious enough as a sport in Bulgaria. I would say I had the desire to follow through with the sport, but at the same time, I was also skeptical. In either case, I still did a lot of thinking on the matter.
From today’s perspective, if you received the same offer, would you go for it, or would you leave it solely as a hobby?
I’ve found something here that satisfies both aspects: recently I started playing football in a fan/amateur league, and in general, I really enjoy it. Now I can satisfy my hobby, which also adds that competitive element to it and takes me back to those years, when I was competing.
Very cool, now let’s go back to your job – what does a day in the life of a graphic designer look like?
My day, in particular, is quite dynamic. No two days are the same. Each day starts differently, depending on what day it is, whether I have to attend university, whether I’ve been to the gym… however, I always start working at some point of the day, I come by, I try to organize myself as soon as possible, etc.
Once I start working, I check my daily tasks, my emails, and based on the priorities, and any emergencies that might have occurred 10 minutes ago, I start doing whatever’s the most important and needs to be done ASAP.
In general, whether it’s a client task, or a social media creative, I try to be as useful as possible, and to finish my task as fast as possible. Additionally, I try to stay at the office for as long as possible, so I can do more work. I drink my coffee or coffees, depending on the workload, and my days also end at different times, depending on when it started.
Also, during this year at work, I’ve noticed I’m most productive in the morning, and early afternoon.
What, actually, ignited your passion for design? What made you decide you want to do this for a living?
That’s an interesting question. I started using the computer a lot from an early age. I remember playing around with some letters on Word, and trying to type on the keyboard with the same speed as my parents. Eventually, my mother proposed I play some browser games, and from thereon, (I was around 6-years old), I started browsing different things, and I was captivated by how things were done – some things popped up, others disappeared, etc. It was so fascinating.
When I was in the 5th or 6th grade in school, that interest was still in me – I was curious to how websites are made. Then my school had a sort of field trip to another school. A part of our schedule for that trip was that we were going to look at some of the school’s websites, which were created by the students from that school.
Eventually, I ended up studying in that school. And that’s where my interest came from, out of pure curiosity. Apart from that, I had started doing design on my own in the 7th, 8th grade, I was watching YouTube videos, and short Photoshop tutorials. For example, my first website was done with Photoshop, and it was about bio products. That was quite some time ago, when I think of it.
What would you say is your favorite aspect of design? And is it something more UI/UX-oriented, or something more creative?
My favorite aspect is the symbiosis between the beautiful and the working design. As someone once said, a good design is the one you don’t notice, it just works, and it is there for everyone to use. That’s what I try to achieve with every project I’m working on – to create a design in a way that the user doesn’t have to feel or think about whether it is good or bad. The design should work, and be good enough, so you don’t notice it.
Well said. , I would also like to ask you, as someone who has some experience in the field, what are the most common design mistakes you’ve noticed, or the ones that bother you most?
If we’re talking about mistakes that junior designers make, probably one of them is that they shouldn’t take themselves too seriously. No designer should actually take themselves too seriously, because we all make a lot of mistakes, and it’s not like writing code, where absolutely everything must be perfect.
Here we make mistakes, a lot of them, and on a daily basis. Taking this too seriously will interfere with your work. In fact, most designers are somewhat afraid of mistakes, and design is something where that happens because it’s naturally part of the process, I think.
So, a designer should be able to take criticism, and accept the fact that a lot of mistakes can and will be made?
Absolutely. If you’ve decided that design is the thing you want to do, you should continue grinding. Some people might tell you, at some point, that design is not the thing for you, and you should think about a different career, but those people are, most probably, not right. You are, more likely, just very green.
Okay. So, the takeaway point and advice for junior designers is just to be stubborn, and keep on making mistakes – one day you’ll make fewer errors.
Awesome. Now let me ask you, as a big football fan, what are your expectations regarding the upcoming World Cup in Qatar? Who do you think will win, and what sort of competition do you think we’ll be witnessing in this interesting and unique tournament?
Being a unique tournament, in the winter, it will be extremely exciting to watch. I expect a lot of surprises, especially given the performance of the teams in the UEFA Nations League. For instance, Hungary, who placed first, in the “group of death”, where all the “big players” have failed.
Overall, I anticipate a solid performance by Brazil and Argentina, eventually Portugal, as well. I would like to see Argentina vs. Portugal in the final, since we know that this would probably be the last time the two greats (Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo) meet. From this World Cup, I’d love to see a lot of surprises, loads of goals, and to witness Ronaldo triumphing at the World Cup.
Okay, so we’re waiting for Portugal to lift the trophy. Cool. For my final question, we’ll stick with the football theme. If we imagine life as a football game (1 minute = 1 year of life), where would you want to be at the end of the 90 minutes? Would you want to be in the role of the goalscorer, who scored a hat-trick, or the playmaker, who orchestrated the game, maybe the defensive midfielder, who “destroys” the other teams’ game, or the goalkeeper?
When the referee gives his last signal, I would definitely want to be on the field, not on the bench. I want to be as productive, and active as possible, and to live life fully right up until my last days. Somehow, I don’t see myself as a goalscorer, but more like a playmaker. Someone, without whom, it would be hard for the team to achieve results, but is not constantly in the spotlight.
So, perhaps, the number 5 with the captain’s armband, and hopefully not like Zinedine Zidane, headfirst, but rather more graciously.
Alright, Niki, thanks again for this interview, would you like to say anything else before we wrap everything up?
Thank you, too. I would like to note that, when someone asks me what I do, the answer should start with “I lay blocks”. That’s my catchphrase.
The football team at DevriX is quite balanced – we have playmakers, goalscorers, fast wingers, and impenetrable goalkeepers – check out our services.
What Is It Like to Work With Niki?
“He’s reliable and hard-working. We can laugh, talk about sports, and discuss work. Whenever we collaborate, I know I can trust him to get the work done with swiftness and quality.”
“I see him more as a mentor, and I can say I’ve learned a lot from him since I came to DevriX. He pushes me to do better and more interesting designs.”
“Niki is one of my favorite colleagues, most definitely. From a working perspective – he always responds to his tasks on time and delivers great outcomes. Niki is a very reliable co-worker and friend. I enjoy talking with him about work-related topics as well as any other topics. I hope he continues developing at the same pace and I believe he can achieve a lot!”