Interview: Petar Stojaković

Petar Stojaković
Name: Petar Stojaković

Where do you live: Subotica, in north of beautiful country called Serbia.

Known for: Digital Product designer & Art director

Currently working with:
I am currently self employment working like Product designer and Art director, also working with my team trying always to bring something fresh and unique!

When did you realize that you were going to work with this/in this area?
In third year of my college, where I first time meet with Photoshop CS3.

If you could choose one place only to live, where would that be and why?
I really love Serbia like country, not politically, not by living standards, but according to our nature and culture. But If I could choose a place, definitely would be New Zealand.

How would you describe your creativity?
I always try to see things from a different angle! Try to experiment with new and exciting ideas and details. Try to bring something new, fresh, and different. Even if my attempt was a total disaster, even if I throw away two weeks of hard work, and if at least 5% of that failed attempt taught me something new, fresh and unique I consider that a success!

How and when did you start to work with this in a serious manner?
Let’s say my freelancing career started almost two years ago, to be precise: 1st December 2013‚ a very important day for me.

What do you do at the moment?
Unfortunately I cannot disclose a lot due to an NDA, but I can say I finished it recently.

Also I can say that it is a dating app which will, I’d like to believe so, be a game changer in that industry. The complete vision of the app is made in accordance to the passion of the user itself, and merging the user with another user who shares the same. UX is very innovative and much different from what we could see until now. UI also brings a very fresh and different approach, which should bring a unique, luxurious and fun experience with the user.

A recommendation for those who think about starting and running a creative business?
Life as a freelancer or running a creative business is not easy, if you think otherwise then you are only seeing the nicer side of it. You need to be aware that you are a small and very insignificant startup in a huge mashup of other people and companies, all competing on a global scale. As with any beginning, there will be problems. The first clients and good reviews are always the most difficult. But once you get a few of them, and see the good reviews coming in, your desire for work grows and grows.

This helps you fight all future challenges. When starting out, I did not give much thought to money (even though, that was the time I needed it the most). I gave it my max and worked on projects which were severely underpaid. That did not worry me too much, or lead me astray, since I knew that these experiences would lead to something better. Also I faced a very big challenge when starting freelancing: Multitasking! When you start to work as a freelancer, you are EVERYTHING. And I really mean EVERYTHING. You are a salesman, a project manager, a designer, the business owner, PR. All the people that one big agency has. You are in charge of all the details and do various jobs.

For me that was one of the biggest challenges, how to overcome that and how to be the best in all fields. This is where it breaks, either you overcome these obstacles and become the best freelancer out there, or return to your 9 to 5 job and chug at it. If you manage to overcome these issues and become more and more efficient and profitable in your work, you can hire people to do these other tasks for you. Then you can focus on the things you love. In my case that was design and only design!

Tell us how it all started.
Until let’s say, I was 22 years old, my “talent” for design was not visible at all. Usually people who have some talent and show interest in design have fairly good art class grades, attend various creative workshops and in general are acting in a creative way. Me, on the other hand, I was far from it. But in spite all of that I knew, deep down, that I want to have a career where I can, with my own wits and hands, create something out of nothing and shape the impossible.

The start of my university years also meant the start of my search for a job, since I was paying for my own education. Interestingly enough, my first job also landed me my first baby steps in design. I was a kitchen designer in a local furniture store and after 11 months of hard work I managed to obtain a leading role and told myself: “Hm, this design thingy seems to fit me quite well!” On my third year of studies I had a course in “Computer design and graphics”, which I fell in love with and there I definitely found myself. I was 22 at the time and I had a whole bag of mixed feelings about it. I was still not 100% sure in which direction should I expand myself, but I knew that I needed to make that decision pretty fast.

After I finished the university, I got a job at a local agency “Heavyform”, in that same agency I made my first steps and walked into the world of professional design. After a year or so, I decided to quit and begin my freelancing adventure. I bet you are wondering why. The work environment, the salary and the working conditions were not the reason, quite the opposite, we had amazing conditions, excellent team mates and we worked for world renown brands and companies and that brief period there helped me get a great deal of experience. But I figured, as a very young designer, I need to feel out my direction, achieve my own style and make my own decisions, and that was difficult to achieve there, when you are constantly under the lead of someone else. I just simply wanted to learn by myself, and I do believe that was the more difficult road to take, but I also believe that is the best way I can improve myself. And make my own specific style for which, someday, I will be recognized.

After two years of being a freelance art director and designer I still think that that was the best decision I ever made. Now, in front of my team and me, stands a whole slew of new challenges and a whole lot of learning, but that is the bread and butter of this job that fulfills me.

What is the most important thing in a workplace/studio for you?
Nothing special, clean tidy workspace, comfortable chair and lots of natural light!

What is your favorite film?
Rocky 1 and 2, perhaps cliché. But very honest and mood/initiative booster movie, especially if you know the background story and how the first Rocky movie was made.

What is luxury for you?
Offline is the new luxury for anyone in this industry, also for me!

What is the nicest compliment youve received for your creative work, and from whom?
From my true friends who saw how much progress I’ve made and where I started!

What do you fear most?
Height, I really do not like heights! 😀

What is a happy life to you?
To do what I love, and that I have a partner who supports me in it!

What does a regular day look like for you?
I usually get up around 7 in the morning, go to training, eat breakfast, hear and arrange with my team what we will do today, answer all emails that have arrived during the night, against them or current projects I prioritize what I will do today, I focus and I’m working on that to some 8-9h night when my workday ends. So basically I try not to work more than 60h a week. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve never really shown any talent for the work I do, so sometimes I need to work a bit longer in order to achieve the thing I really want. Working 12h a day does not present any kind of problem to me, sometimes it doesn’t even feel like work anymore, more like one big classroom where I learn something new every day.

Tell us about your dream project.
I think the true designer should never have the dream project, because each project which she/he accept to work would need to make his own dream project! Because if you are not passionate about work which you need to do and you have the ability to walk away from it, walk away!

Who is your professional role model/inspiration?
As I said in some of my earlier interviews. I think a lot of designers have their role models and idols. Which, in hand is okay up to some extent, but we come to the point where you need to develop your own style or “brand”, something for which you will be recognized as on first sight without the need to exclaim it. I think this should be a goal for every designer. So because of that I cannot really answer the question, since I really didn’t have any role models, but I am self taught designer who learned from his own mistakes and failures, and that is the way I developed myself and gotten to the point where I am now. But if I can twist the question a bit.

From whom I would like to learn and to be my mentor or Hero? Well, that is an easy answer, which is Anton Repponen. If I would ever work with him on some project in my life, I would consider my goal accomplished.

How would you describe your work style (academic field or fashion style, or both, or something entirely different)?
Hmm, well let’s say that my style is something between skeuomorphic design and flat design.

Which is the one thing you cant live without?
Photoshop and Spotify simple as that. 😀 On a professional level of course.

What inspires you?
I look for inspiration in being relaxed with my family and friends. I walk the streets and travel. Most of my best ideas pop to mind on my way to work or back home, when I travel, simply put when I don’t have to think about design but somehow subconsciously I solve a puzzle which has been bugging me in the past few days. I don’t want to force my creativity and inspiration, I just let it flow and allow it to come to me. It doesn’t come from reading other designers books or looking at their work, just when I don’t even have to think about work inspiration comes by itself when I least expect it.

A book that has changed/made the most impression in your life?
I do not read a lot of books, more are internet blogs and articles.

Check out Petar’s website
Follow him on Twitter @Stojakovic57
Check out his work on Dribble & Behance
Connect with him via Facebook

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