Where to start?!
I first became aware of a new company on the Flash scene back in 2000. The company was called Fantasy Interfaces and they had a typical 2Advanced futuristic style website at the time. I can remember looking at their site and being impressed by the bios of the people who worked there.
In 2001, a website called Starbreeze.com hit the FWA submission inbox and this would be the first time there was actual correspondence between myself and David Martin. In fact, back in those very early beginnings, I would correspond more with David’s now wife, Camilla. She always hugely impressed me with her professionalism.
In December 2001, I wrote this email:
Hope you are all well over at Fantasy Interfaces.
Okay, here's a real long shot but I'll never know if I don't ask!
I'm in need of a new award graphic for my award program and you are at the top of my list!
I'm looking for a cutting edge design to reward the cutting edge sites who are listed on my site.
As I say above, I know it's one hell of a long shot but you never know!
Thanks in advance for your consideration.
As many will know, FWA has never been a funded project. In the early years, in fact the first 6 years, I personally funded the project from my own savings, so this type of email was my only way of pushing the project forward.
To my delight, the response was positive and Fantasy Interfaces “lead designer” David Martin would be heading the design of the new award graphic.
In early 2002 myself and David began to exchange some emails on the new graphic design. In fact, it was David who pretty much coined the term FWA at that time. Up until then it was always Favourite Website Awards and many will remember the original domain name of favouritewebsiteawards.com.
David created the new FWA One Award graphic and just to add a cherry to the cake, he created an amazing Flash intro for the website. There was quite a buzz at the time around the intro and I received many emails about it and how the speed and quality was so good.
Bizarrely, the One Award logo would later see me receiving a cease and desist notice from MTV Networks, saying it was too similar to their VH1 logo and was causing confusion in the industry. In 2006, David and team would go on to redesign MTV.com so it couldn’t have been all bad and the, now widely known, FWA yellow ribbon would adorn more than one MTV site.
There has always been a mutual respect between David’s company, Fi and FWA. I believe the fact that we were, and still are, so passionate about pushing the boundaries of digital is something that will bond us for life.
Fi set many new records at FWA, wining multiple SOTM awards, SOTY, PCA, first ever FWA interview (in fact an idea of David’s) and first ever Hall of Fame member.
In fact, there have been times when some even thought Fi owned FWA or had a stake in it… which, whilst funny was equally crazy.
David has been a great proponent when it comes to getting FWA exposure. He got me my first ever magazine interview in the legendary Cre@te magazine. It was such an amazing issue to be in as well as Jakob Nielsen was interviewed on the page before me. He was going on about Flash usability and then along I came bigging up Flash and everything about it.
Many years ago when I put FWA publically up for sale, I received hundreds of emails, many of which were just inquisitive but David went a step further and introduced me to one of the biggest companies in the USA, who amazingly had interest. Nothing came of this but it was incredible for someone to see FWA’s potential and to try and move it to another level by way of acquisition.
David has always been a great critic of FWA as well. He sees the potential and I believe he is sometimes frustrated that the project doesn’t propel itself further forward as the ultimate designer / developer community. I guess it’s our differences in personality and drive that sees David flying areoplanes and driving Ferraris and me still living with my parents! The aeroplanes and Ferraris bit is true. ;)
Whenever I am planning a big change at FWA or whenever I am thinking of a new addition to the project, there are a handful of people I’ll always ask for an opinion from and David is one of them. His honest and frank comments have influenced the way FWA has gained momentum over the years and the work himself and his team has created, much of which has won FWAs, has equally inspired a whole generation as FWA has done itself.
Some of you may remember the original FWA Theater site. Another massive show of generosity from Fi to help move FWA forward.
I’m sure David would agree that we are digital brothers, growing up online in a world none of us could even have imagined when we were kids at school. And, I’m sure he’d also agree, that we are effectively middle aged in this digital timeline and are both craving the fun, excitement and the buzz that many of us experienced from the late 90s through the early 00s.
I know there are many individuals, agencies and even brands who have benefited from winning FWAs over the years and the exposure those wins have brought them (of course, without those agencies etc submitting amazing projects, FWA wouldn’t be where it is either). However, not many are happy to stand up and say just that and I was touched by this article David wrote in 2013, How award-winning work can make or break you http://blog.f-i.com/how-award-winning-work-can-make-or-break-you/
Finally, I have never met David Martin and I have never spoken to him on the phone. I understand he thinks I am a woman. Stranger things have happened!