10 years from now, 90% of sites will be mobile. The line between physical and digital will be gone and websites will live, breathe (i.e. The Internet of Things) and connect more instinctively with our lives.
Please give us a brief bio of yourself.
I've been working as a creative in advertising for 15 years at traditional and digital agencies like McKinney, R/GA, BBDO, Lucky Branded Entertainment and JWT. I've had the opportunity to collaborate with smart, talented folks and create award-winning campaigns for Nike, Audi, Google, Starbucks, and Beats by Dre.
My passion for storytelling and innovation led me to Olson where I'm able to combine cutting edge digital technologies with filmmaking for brands like Target. My current role is Creative Director and Filmmaker.
What do you do for inspiration?
I play with my curious 2 year-old daughter, take odd community education classes (home plumbing or solar energy), devour all sorts of documentaries and when I can - I travel. Travel, by far, inspires me the most.
Please list 3 of your favourite sites.
I am a huge fan of experiences that combine technology and filmmaking in unexpected and innovative ways. With that in mind, my favs are:
http://www.hondatheotherside.com/?x=en-gb (not technically a site, but definitely mindblowing).
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
Launching and maintaining Lucky Branded Entertainment, a successful agency and production company in NYC, for 5 years. It was filled with adventures, pitfalls and millions of wonderful collaborators. To have all that happen with New York as a backdrop made it even more magical.
How many hours do you work each week?
50-60, but much more if I'm directing something.
How do you relax or unwind?
Fixing stuff that's broken around my house. I love the feeling of seeing a small problem, fixing it in a few hours and then having that physical proof of your accomplishment. It's a big contrast from 6 month digital project timelines.
If you weren't working on the internet what would you be doing?
I'd be working in Energy Efficient Home Construction. There's a lot of room for design improvements there and an opportunity to make a positive global impact.
What's your favourite part of your job? What's the hardest part of your job? What do you do when you get stuck?
My favorite part of the job is experiencing the pure excitement you get when you and your team have hit upon a big idea. It's that moment when you know you've got what you've been searching for and the excitement explodes. Those moments are rare within the hours, days, weeks of concepting you log in to get there, so I try to be present to it.
The hardest part of the job is shepherding a concept through the layers of obstacles (budget, approvals, abstract feedback, etc.). There are so many places that good ideas die. I try to be a good listener, quick on my toes and a brave soldier.
When i get stuck, I walk away from the problem a bit. Sometimes I'll go chat up a coworker, jump on a news site or go for a long stroll. Those little breaks give my brain time to regroup and plan a new approach.
What's the longest you've ever stayed up working on a project?
I've worked 48 hours straight on a few pitches and some overnight shoots. However, as I've gotten older I realize how important sleep is to the creative process. So even in marathon situations, I now make sure I sneak in a few hours of shuteye.
If there are any pivotal experiences/decisions you could point to that helped shape your career, what would they be?
I left my full time career as an Art Director at McKinney in 2006 to become a freelancer and filmmaker in NYC. It was a little nerve racking to jump without a net, but I'm so glad I did.
That leap of faith taught me how to listen to and trust my own instincts. it also put me in touch with a pile of amazing and inspiring creatives, enrolled me at NYU's Film Intensive, and introduced me to an amazing business partner and eventually my wife.
In terms of software, is there anything new you have been playing with lately or that has impressed you?
There are a few video stitching softwares out there that, along with affordable 720 degree cameras, are opening up gigantic new opportunities in the world of immersive sites.
When dealing with major clients, how difficult is it to meet the needs of such wide target audiences?
I think this all depends on the sophistication and experience of your client. If they are smart, they've narrowed the audience in some way or focused on a brief that's based on a unique, ownable human truth.
If they are less sophisticated, then the agency is left to solve a very challenging and possibly unrealistic task.
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
The very first site I created was for the Full Frame Film Festival. It was created in 2004, built in Flash and skinned to look like cardboard art. After the client used it for a year, they requested that we make the pages indexable, which wasn't possible due to our approach. We had to start the development over from scratch. To give us an excuse for the redesign and downtime, we set the cardboard site ablaze and had "The World's First Internet Fire". It's no longer online. At least I don't think it is.
Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?
I haven't written any books, but in 2012, I did launch a film festival called On My Block Films. I had a realization that in my 7 years of living in NYC, I had lived in 4 neighborhoods and yet I never really had any substantial relationships with neighbors. OMBF was created to bring neighbors closer together by challenging them to make a film on their block using only their neighbors as the cast and crew. So far we've brought over 2000 NYC neighbors closer together. Through the experience, I even got the chance to meet President Obama.
Have you been a part of a campaign that was rooted in digital and THEN reached over into other consumer touchpoints? Did this happen organically or was it a part of the plan from the beginning?
I've directed a few web brand videos that have done well and were later converted into 30 second television spots. Definitely wasn't part of the original plan, but I was happy that the client was excited enough to put some paid media behind the filmmaking so more people could check it out.
Looking 10 years in to the future, how far can websites go?
10 years from now, 90% of sites will be mobile. The line between physical and digital will be gone and websites will live, breathe (i.e. The Internet of Things) and connect more instinctively with our lives. Sites will make us more present to our impact on the world, those around us and even ourselves. And sites will enhance the creative powers of individuals in colossal new ways.
Wow. We've got a lot of work ahead of us. Let's get cracking.
There is perhaps a shift in web use these days. We are seeing a decline in the purely experiential sites in flash with huge production efforts, to a relationship with clients based on tools and services, that many times have simples interfaces. How do you see that trend developing? Will Flash suffer?
I am a huge fan of simplicity and giving users exactly what they want. However, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. A simple, tool-based site may be right for a bank or insurance client, but when it comes to say a luxury brand, mood and emotion are more important. Because of that, experiential sites have a strong reason for being.
We're also living in a time where immersive video technologies are increasingly more affordable (720 degree video, Oculus Rift, and Google Cardboard). I find it hard to believe that digital creatives won't find ways to incorporate them. My prediction is that the pendulum will swing back towards experiential sites.
What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?
I highly recommend the specialized schooling route. After undergrad, I enrolled in a 2-year Certificate Program in Art Direction. It taught me conceptual and strategic skills that I depend on and I honestly don't know where I'd be without them. I feel that those students who've taken the time out for specialized schooling have a higher percentage of long-term successful creative careers.
That being said, I also think it's important to mix things up and hire pure artists that are natural conceptual thinkers. They approach advertising in non-traditional ways and that inspires the rest of the team to stay fresh. I think Wieden + Kennedy has always done a great job of mixing up their creative hires.
What would be your ultimate vehicle to travel in?
A hovercraft. When I found an ad for instructions on "How to Make Your Own Hovercraft Using an Old Vacuum Motor", I ordered the instructions and began negotiations with my mother to disassemble our vacuum. Turns out she liked her vacuum motor in one piece.
I'm glad you asked this question. It shows me I have some incomplete things in my life I need to take care of. You don't have an old vacuum motor lying around do you?
What is the most expensive thing you have bought in the last week?
4 fillings for 4 cavities. Those little buggers hurt like hell the day they went in and they'll continue to pound on my pocketbook for days to come.