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A sixteen-year-old go-getter, cycling professionally for Bulgaria, and “In the morning you see with new eyes.”. This week we meet Alexander Dimitrov (xavortm) from GraphicRiver and CodeCanyon.
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Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from, what do you do for a living?
Hey! I am Alexander Dimitrov from Bulgaria. It may not be big country (or rich) but here we have some great talent, for example the creators of Vray.
Now something about me. I am 16 years old and my dream (I hope it’s close to reality) is to become a graphic designer and web developer.
Now I study electronics and programming in school, but far removed from any type of design stuff. Actually I have a nothing to learn from there, and I am sure your case is the same as mine.
For living, I rely on my parents (you don’t say), but I really try to earn some money for my personal stuff, like upgrading from PC to Mac. (This is partly Jeffrey Way’s fault, because of his course: So You Bought a Mac?)
Which marketplaces do you belong to? What types of files do you sell?
I think my talent is pointing to GraphicRiver, but life realities are more likely to drive me to ThemeForest, and everyone knows the reason. People want to do as little work as possible, and what’s better than “download -> install -> use”.
But, my main thinking about this is that if you are not good in arts (just not born with it) it will be somehow hard to push yourself into GraphicRiver. I’m talking about web design/development. And this sounds just fine, if you are OK with programing. Still, this is a problem and I wonder if there are people that succeed on ThemeForest, while they “suck” at design.
My best-selling files are the ones that are most searched for. So far I have poor portfolio that waits to be expanded.
How did you get started? Have you had any formal training?
My start was actually in drawing (this one is from last year). This is the first thing I started to do, and is and the reason I looked at design. I started at age of 13 maybe, when I met the good old Web Page Maker. And I just loved the way everything worked.
Then a friend of mine told me, “Dude, this is lame. Learn CSS and HTML.” And because I hate to be left behind, I did. In two days I read the basic tutorials about HTML, then I started to memorize the basics of CSS.
Many make the first step. But there is one thing that drawing teaches me. Practice! After five drawings I master a technique, so i thought after five sites I’ll be just fine! And that is what happened.
Each subsequent attempt was powered by a lot of reading about design tips (and “rules”), techniques and… well to be fair, minutes (not hours) exploring CSS galleries. And so after each subsequent design I got better and better until today – and I hope I will continue improving in the future.
Describe your home workspace.
Workplace or “liveplace”? I do it in home…
- Two monitors, and I can not imagine having just one. (It really helps – try it!)
- One old keyboard, because the keys have been pressed so may times that they just feel so natural and easy to press, so I won’t buy a $200 keyboard to replace this one (that cost maximum $5-6).
- Two mouses. The first for everyday use and the other for relaxing (also known as spamming the right click).
It’s usually is a bit messy but I totally clean it when starting some new fresh design.
Describe your creative process. What steps do you normally follow to create your files?
Well I will tell you one my little secrets, that maybe you have too. I created one small document, around 15-17 pages, where I listed all the elements one site has. From all types of sliders, to tabs and types of widgets. Then when I get stuck after designing the header, I check the list and find what will suit best. I do it so I do not forget that there is a feature that will fit right in place.
Next, when I get stuck again and start thinking I don’t like the way things are going, and can’t find a solution to the problem, I stop everything and take a nap. This saying sums it up – “In the morning you see with new eyes.”
But there is a nasty thing called a “deadline”. Then there is just one thing I can do, and it is to make changes non-stop (and save each one in separate file) until I find what I’m looking for. Don’t think about whether it is good or not, just make different variants. After that I have like five to twenty files. Check them all, take the best one, make some more tweaks, and it is just fine.
What is your advice to other authors regarding how to create a successful portfolio?
Number one is to always look good. This is totally the main thing and there is no doubt about it! Everyone knows it, but sometimes we forget it on purpose, and realize that after over an hour of “working”. That’s just a waste of time, so each time you look what you have done, think of that first, then everything else.
After this, to have success you have to make your items as the user wants them. As responsive design is popular this year, this should be your aim.
Another thing everyone knows is creativity, but not always. There are customers who are traditionalists. They want what the others have, so this is something to think about.
For me, the best portfolio is the one that has most sales (talking about a marketplace portfolio). I am telling you this because it is realistic.
But if I have to answer the question as “best scenario”, the greatest portfolio is the one that covers all user needs. From minimalistic, to heavy ornamental “red and gold” designs.
What do you do to market your files?
I hope that my files will market themselves. I don’t have experience with advertising so… yeah, this is my only choice. ;/
What are your three favorite files, and why do you like them?
My favorite files are the free files of the month. Really, because I can see them “at the core” and not just images. I also love the ones that are sellable. I just feel so good when I see a succsesful author.
But my favorites are:
(Note that I am not listing then as a Top 3, but my three favorites, and there is no particular order.)
I must say that I haven’t seen all the themes and designs here, but these are the one i just love. Minimalism is my goal and I try to stick with it as long as I decide what to do.
Apart from yourself, who is your favorite marketplace author, and why do you like them?
Again, I haven’t met all the authors, and I don’t know all of their products. But I can say that I admire the ones that can sell their products, and this is just enough. You know them.
What do you do in your spare time?
Cycling. Every day from 1-2 to 6-7 hours. I race professionally for the Bulgarian team. My best result so far is 4th place in a national competition.
Actually, after reading this question I really asked myself and this is the main thing. Each day I think about what to eat, when to ride, what pills to take (just vitamins guys magnesium for the cramps, mineral salts and other regular and vital vitamins).
Apart from this, I like to read, just for fun. Now i almost finished the second book of Hellgate.