1. What is 99designs? In which markets and countries are you active?
99designs has been founded in 2008 in Australia and is by now active all over the world, with offices in Oakland, Berlin, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo. We are the biggest online marketplace for graphic design, with an international community of over a million designers. We connect companies and designers around the globe, to make quality, affordable graphic design possible for everyone. We believe that every connection we can make possible, helps a company to go forward, a designer to pursue a career and the ambitious enterprise to be successful. That’s our mission.
2. How do artists come to you? Are they all professionals? Where are they from?
Our designers register themselves from all parts of the world, leading to a colorful and mixed community of creative minds. We work with beginners to improve their skills, as well as industry pros. Besides the various skill-levels, our creative minds cover a diverse expertise, so that we can offer anything to our customers that their hearts desire.
3. What is 99nonprofits and how can you apply as an NPO?
99nonprofits is our initiative to help non-profit organizations. With beautiful designs from our community, we try to improve the communications of NPOs, raising maximum awareness for their cause. With sponsored design contests we help ambitioned organizations to make a positive contribution to our world.
Any registered non-profit organization can apply for the 99nonprofits program on our website. Tell us who you are and what you do. What visions do you have and what is your mission? Then of course we would like to know what type of design you need!
4. Why are you so generous towards NPOs?
First of all, we are all human beings. So when we have something that could help others, why not share it? Community and interaction are an important part of our market place. Also, we know of the importance of visually convincing communication, especially for NPOs. High quality design can make a huge difference here. If nothing else, we want to raise awareness for charity. Within our community, we do that with an exciting design contest for example.
5. We like the idea that artists do not work for free just because it’s for an NPO (known to have not much money…). Thank you for sponsoring our design contest back then! What do you think of the concept of supporting interns in arts with scholarships? What do you think of our mission in general?
You are very welcome! We like your mission! We do want to foster the exchange between young people and the cultural interaction in particular. We just entered that Japanese market recently, so we experienced ourselves how big but also important the differences between Japan and other countries are. It’s still very fascinating for us and I bet for you too! You give youngster the chance to experience these cultural differences up-close while earning first international work experience at the same time. Especially when it comes to arts, foreign countries and cultures are the best inspiration there is. This all sounds very much like adventures but that’s exactly what we like.
6. “The unprofitable arts” - an old saying. What do you think about it?
Actually, the best thing about arts is that it can appease hunger without the need for anything else. If you are a creative person, you know what I mean. Creativity is the new superpower! With it we have the chance to flee the stressful daily life and dive into a whole different world. Creativity makes us and organizations unique! It differentiates us from the others (competitors) and is fun at the same time. The process of creating something with your own hands is priceless. Besides, today’s internet offers new opportunities to make money with creativity, no matter what you do or where you are! Never before was the demand for arts and creativity higher!
7. Why do you take interns? Do you have anything to add to our Value Add?
There is nothing to add actually! Besides their manpower and fresh ideas, we have individual memories and stories about our interns. Each of them is an individual and brings new (cultural) aspects to the team. That’s a lot of fun and takes away the everyday routine at the office. Not to mention an additional pair of helping hands is a great help for for everyone. And last but not least, one should not underestimate the aspect of teaching and learning. It is important to exchange and pass on knowledge and experience. It is boosting the dynamics and the feeling of community in a team.
8. Are your interns international? Do all of your subsidiaries take interns?
We welcome interns in all of our offices worldwide. No matter if it’s Oakland, Berlin or Tokyo - all 99designs teams live one philosophy and that includes supporting young minds from all over the world. Just as our team is comprised of many different nationalities, our interns are from many different places as well. This team approach isn’t necessarily making communication easier but it is a great asset in daily team work.
9. What do interns do at 99designs? Is there a special mentor or is the whole team responsible?
Normally, the whole team is helping the interns with their daily tasks. They often receive their own projects as well, so they can work on them independently for the whole length of their stay. Depending on the department, there is one dedicated contact person but the general rule is that the whole team is available for questions, help and input. This works both ways. So the intern can get an insight into the different departments of a company.
10. How do you find interns?
That depends. Sometimes they approach us, sometimes we actively search for them on our communication channels (website, blog, social media), at universities and other job boards.
11. What kind of person should your intern be? What skills and languages are necessary?
Because we all speak different mother tongues, English is a must for optimal communication in larger meetings. We also speak mostly English with our design community. Specific skills or prior experience surely won’t hurt, but most importantly we want our interns to be curious, passionate and open. The rest will just work out on its own.
12. Can you give us an example about a specific intern at 99designs?
Charlotte from France greatly supported us at our office in Berlin this summer. She worked at the French customer service as well as French content marketing. But let her speak for herself.
13. How important is arts & culture for globalization?
Art & culture connect us and differentiate us. This might sound paradox at first, but it isn’t. To me arts & culture is like a language, used by people from different backgrounds to communicate with each other. Art as a medium helps to express facts that might not be expressed verbally at all. So art connects us in a very special way. In addition to that, art sets the mind and our actions free, nurturing our own individuality and independence.
Like art, cultures are not a fixed construct. The ongoing globalization and new media form our existing culture and create new ones simultaneously. A lot of people look at that phenomena with fear. Not me though. After all these dynamics create a whole lot of new things. Everyone should decide for themselves how much tradition or modern lifestyle they want to live by.
14. In Japan, internationalization is called “kokusaika” (国際化). Your work is an important contribution to that! At 99designs artists from all over the world meet. Our very own designer Coffee Bean for example is from the Philippines. Can you tell us an international story of success? What countries work together?
There are thousands of success stories! Client and designer rarely come from the same country, unless it’s explicitly stated because of language barriers. So we always have people from different cultural backgrounds meet each other. That’s pretty interesting and seldom goes wrong. It rather stimulates creative work and expands horizons. For example, in a very successful project the client E-Plus, based in Düsseldorf, realized an app design with one of our Platin Designers Dawid from Poland. I talked to both of them and they were impressed by each other and very satisfied with the collaboration.
15. “Japan” What does that mean to you?
Only a couple of months ago we opened up an office in Tokyo. Japan is an important market for us. Many exciting weeks have past and more thrilling years are ahead of us. Japan is not the US and not Europe. Asia is a completely different terrain, culturally and economically. A challenge we gladly accept in the light of 99designs’ internationalization.
16. What’s your message for the creative youth of the world?
I’d like to point to our slogan here: Create and grow!