Dear eYeka community, It’s March now and time to meet our "Creator of the Month"! Please welcome Maria Grazia, who is known as sm_all on eYeka! She participated in 8 contests and won 4 prizes so far. Let’s learn her secret of winning together! ;)

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Hello everybody! My name is Maria Grazia Piccolo, I’m Italian and a I am a freelance Art Director. I graduated in Industrial Design, but later I decided to go down the path of advertising and graphic design. Actually, I have been working for 8 years for an advertising agency, and then I thought it was time to challenge myself  to try to work as a freelancer. I like photography. I like irony. I like clear and clean design. I like working on design.
You joined eYeka one and a half year ago. May I know how did you find out eYeka at that time? And why did you decide to participate in our contests?
When I left the advertising agency I was working for (To tell you the truth - they sent me home after my maternity ☹), I soon felt the need to put myself to the test, so I started to look for graphic and advertising contests on the internet and then, I found out eYeka - the crowdsourcing universe all around. I was passionate with eYeka immediately, and to me, the most enthusiastic thing is proposing my ideas to the client directly, without getting approval from the entire office - first begin with the boss, then the account, the printmaker... sometimes even end with the business consultant… :D
You won a prize in your very first contest (Signal - day and night) – well done! Any secrets to share behind your success?
You’ll never forget the first victory! I remember I was very happy and I felt very proud of myself for winning the second prize in the ‘’Signal day and night’’ contest, it was such a real and good incentive to me to keep going ahead with my decision and following my road. I do not have a special recipe or a magic formula to win in the contest! :D All I can say is that: since I was a student of industrial design, and  after  I worked for an advertising agency, I’ve always been told that my special ability, or  talent, is to find the most successful idea, the one that is able to help client sell
You won another prize in your second contest, and later you grabbed two more prizes, you are so talented! Can you share with us about your creative process?
I don't really have any secrets, if I had one, I would participate in all the contests :) On the contrary, sometimes, the ideas don’t come up in time in my mind, or I just don’t have proper ways to propose some of them. During my creative process, I don’t follow any exact specific outline, sometimes the ideas come first, or maybe the claim, or the layout comes first. They appear all of a sudden and come straight into my mind. There are times, instead, in which I need to make some careful research of images, just to get inspired from the images first. By the way, we need to understand specifically, what the brief is asking for, for me it's a real challenge. It is very important for me to focus on what the client expects, and then I will try to give client a quality final result. I used to take part in the contest not only for having the chance of winning. My goal, indeed, it's more about hoping client to produce and execute my idea to the real work, as my idea has been chosen as a winning work, if it happens for real that my idea is used for a real work, I will be highly satisfied! otherwise it's just a project to put in my portfolio :)
What are the things you like about eYeka and what are the things you think can be improved in the future?
What I really appreciate about eYeka is the friendly atmosphere you can perceive, being part of the community. I guess because members in other communities have the chance of sharing comments, sometimes they are inappropriate and very offensive, which is very lucky that it doesn’t happen on eYeka. What I would love to see are the other winning entries of the contest, also to get a general idea of what the client was asking for, what the client liked most and how to do better in the future. I also like the staffs from eYeka, the way they reply our comments is not just automatic and not formal, but always friendly, professional, human and spontaneous. Concerning the themes of the contests, I’ve noticed that the number of video/animation contests has increased recently… but this is not my field, actually I feel it as my limit so I didn't  take part in the contests recently. So I would like to participate more frequently if there are more advertising related contests. I love working on different advertising campaigns, no matter what the products are, no matter what the format is. It’s my cup of tea!
Did you notice that we will be launching the eYeka new website soon! (https://en.eyeka.com/) Do you have any expectations on the new website?
It would be great to have translation on the briefs! Because language is one of the restrictions when participating in your contests. Some words have very specific terms and I would really like to find a good translation. This would allow me to get more information on what the brief wants and what client expects exactly.
Thanks for your suggestion. Do you have any words to share to your fellow aspiring creators on eYeka?
I want to tell all the creators who want to participate in the contest, and eventually want to become a professional: I suggest you to try, to participate without any fears, just to test your ideas and to present them in the best way you can, and please don't  forget the details, so that they would be able to capture the essence of the product and present in an aesthetically efficient way. I want to conclude with a quote from Bruno Munari, that sums up shortly my thought: "The combination between rule and chance is life, is art, is fantasy, is balance". I wish everybody all the best with your work!
Thank you for your time, Maria! We hope to see more creative works from you and wish you all the best! For those who are interested in Maria's works, you can visit her website http://www.smalladv.com/ to find out more about her designs! :)