After moving through the worlds of comics, video games and Nordic runes, designer Dusan Klepic arrived at a handcrafted logo style that is extremely time consuming, but which he says pays off in every possible way. We got together to chat about his creative trajectory.

photo of Dusan Klepic

Name: Dusan Klepic
99designs handle: Dusan KlepicLocation: Novi Sad, Serbia

It looks like you found a niche for yourself in logo design. What brought you there?

When I was finishing high school, I never thought that I would be a designer or create logos. All I knew at the time was that I liked to draw, read comics, play video games do all sorts of creative stuff on my PC, so graphic design just seemed like a generally good choice, but I had no sense of where I would specifically end up.

My first encounter with a serious project was here on 99designs, back in 2008 I think. My first successful logo project was a great motivator for me and confirmed I was on the right path, but I also realized that I had a very long way to go to be as good as the people whom I admired at the time on 99designs. So I focused all my energy learning and exploring the logo world.

Do you think your original interests in comics and video games had any impact on the kind of designs you make?

I think so. The 80s and 90s, when I was growing up in a little town called Novi Knezevac, were full of awesome cartoons, books, comics, board games and video games which are now a huge source of inspiration for me.

To this day, one my aspirations is to work in the video game world, designing symbols, characters, weapons, armor and all the other important little things we miss while playing a game. I like to walk around with my character through the game world, looking at everything people have designed in it.

So far I have had an opportunity to work on couple of video and board games projects such as “Mythros: The Rise Of El’Arog,” “Battlecast Miniatures” and few more, so this practice has coincided with my branding work.

Lately you have been favoring logos that resemble engravings. Does this relate to your broader visual interests?

Yes, this is something that I’ve been exploring for some time now. I have always liked that vintage stuff—old drawings of the human body, plants and animals, like the sketches by Leonardo da Vinci.

I’m also exploring a lot of ancient symbols, all sorts of runes and the meanings behind them. My personal logo, for example, is based on the Nordic Dagaz rune, which means “a New dawn” or “awakening,” and yin yang, which all together forms my initials “DK.”

In addition to the engraving feel, which comes from a cross hatching technique, I also started exploring stained glass designs; the kind you see in churches. I find them really interesting and inspiring, so I tried creating something like that—for example in my logo for Storybox Studios.

Tell us about your design process

The logo for Stonegate at Braeburn was something I enjoyed working on. I almost immediately got an idea and threw myself to work. I started sketching the options, drawing about 20 of them all in different styles and compositions, but the first one was ultimately the one to go with. So I took a photo with my phone, opened the image on my computer and started tracing it with a pen and tablet.

But the hard truth about the engraving style is that it is difficult as hell; there is no way one can learn it overnight. An experienced artist can do an engraved style illustration in one afternoon, but that is only because of years of hard work, searching and exploring. You need to understand a lot of things before even venturing into those waters.

I don’t want discourage anyone—it’s really fun working in this style— but it is time consuming; for example, my design for Fastnet took a solid 37 hours. You really have to love what you do so these things can be more like a game than like sweat work.

How do you stay up to date with trends in your field?

I don’t. My philosophy is to create something of my own. Following the trend is basically following other people and repeating what someone else already started. Creating something of my own may last forever, and the challenge is way more rewarding, even if I don’t succeed.

Do you have any other tips for other designers using the 99designs platform?

Work hard, find your vibe and share that talent with the world. 99designs is perfect opportunity for a freelancer to do just that.

See more of Dusan Klepic’s work here.