March 3, 2022 The Path To Becoming A Great Designer With Yoki – The Topcoder Nation Show #13

It is not uncommon to feel inspired when you hear a success story. But, when you hear that an electronics factory worker decided to learn design from scratch, in a time when learning resources were scarce, and yet achieved a level of mastery that led him to travel overseas to face the top designers on the planet, THAT gives you the goosebumps.

Our Indonesian guest had us dropping our jaws during this whole interview. He is Yoki Tyas Riesmana (yoki), a beloved member of the community who has inspired and taught many other members to achieve success in design.

We explored the fascinating journey of nurturing a design career in a competitive environment while facing difficulties that ultimately didn’t get in the way of Yoki achieving the greatness he exhibits in his contributions to the projects and customers he works with.

As design became the main topic of our conversation, it was inevitable that we discussed the traits that a designer must have to transition from being just good to achieving greatness. This level of mastery allows a designer to tackle any problem with confidence.

“Once you are a designer, you start seeing the world in another way. A great designer never feels like he or she is a great designer. Why? Because they keep learning and always try to find a way to be a better designer. There is no limit for a great designer.”

— Yoki on what makes a great designer

Besides the challenge of creating his own strategy for learning from scratch, one of the highlights of his journey was the struggle with access to the Internet back in the days when he started in Topcoder (2008). He relied on verbal advice from his early mentor, basuki (who recently qualified for TCO22), and the connection from Internet cafés, where he could upload his work. 

The tolerance for discomfort and the experience he accrued on his path gave Yoki the edge he needed to become a prolific designer in Topcoder. The knowledge he shared with us is just priceless, please enjoy the gems of wisdom found throughout this interview.


These lessons, tips, and advice captured my attention, they may also help you:

  • Yoki enjoys playing video games. He joined community members iamtong, gh3ablo, nicokontes, and starck181995 to clash in multi-player games.
  • When there are no active challenges he keeps practicing his speed and fundamentals.
  • He learned design from scratch through the platform and the help of basuki as his initial mentor.
  • His mindset as a new designer was to push victory out of his mind and focus on completing a full challenge to learn.
  • Yoki grew up in exotic Bali and now lives with his family in Surabaya.

Topcoder Nation Show #13 is up on YouTube. See timestamps below for a summary.


  • Yoki playing video games with community members: 04:20
  • Moving from an electronic factory to design: 07:00
  • Learning design from scratch: 10:00
  • Lessons learned that still serve his life: 14:10
  • What makes a great designer: 22:24
  • Learning design fundamentals: 25:35
  • Struggling with completing work: 30:35
  • His life in Surabaya and Bali: 34:39
  • Parenting and working from home: 37:45


We held an AMA (ask me anything) with yoki. Curious community members asked questions for him to ponder. Watch the video from 44:02 to check out the replies to questions such as:

  • Sometimes there are long periods of time without challenges, which means you have much leisure time. What do you do during this time? Learning, holidays?
  • What are the prerequisites if I want to start designing? 
  • Can you please tell me what is the recipe for success?
  • What was your favorite TCO and why?
  • I compete but I keep losing. How can I deal with this? It’s been a four month unlucky streak
  • What things set you in a design mood? For inspiration and better focus.
  • What tool do you prefer for design?


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Peace out.


Are you living the gig economy lifestyle at Topcoder? Want to join fellow members? Share your story, your travels, and experiences about the ultimate goal of working at Topcoder; the freedom, the flexibility, and the earnings that make it happen! Join Topcoder Nation.

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