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It's a piece of advice I've read a million times. It's simple and it's true. So here it is again; If you don’t love what you do, leave now. You wont last. If you do love it, every day will fill you will the most amazing feeling of discovery and joy. Show up and change the world.

Please give us a brief bio of yourself.

My name is Behrad Taherparvar. I was born in Iran, raised in Scotland and I talk with a misplaced American accent. I studied a BA in graphic communication split between Nicosia and Wolverhampton, followed by an MA in communication design at Central Saint Martins in London. My current day to day is getting paid to grab people's attention and make them feel something for 18 Feet & Rising.

What do you do for inspiration?

I love gifs, they're like a shot of espresso. An idea condensed to its essence. I read a lot too, and I try to learn from other peoples mistakes.

Please list 3 of your favourite sites.

designspiration.net - great search function

louisck.net - great tone of voice across the website and approach to selling content

werewolvesfuckyoface.com - great for a experience  

What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?

Waking up and not hating my job, everyday.

How many hours do you work each week?

If you're not burned out by the end of the day, then you're a bum. I think George Lois said that.

How do you relax or unwind?

Comedy, food, music, walks. One or all, in any order. Actually that would mean comedy walks is something I do. Maybe I should look into that.

If you weren't working on the internet what would you be doing?

I remember having a conversation with my parents pre-university on what I wanted to do with my life. I answered 'I don't know what you call it, but I want to make spoons and forks'. I later discovered there was a thing called product design. I think I've always been into creative problem solving, so anything that had that at its heart.

What's your favourite part of your job? What's the hardest part of your job? What do you do when you get stuck?

The favourite part of my job is working with people in so many different fields who are amazing at what they do. There's no better feeling than working with someone who is so much better than you at something. That's when you're challenged and surprised. And I haven't met a creative person that isn't intrigued by those two things.

The hardest part of my job is not forgetting who the audience is. It's sometime easy to make work aimed at yourself. I've seen lots of examples of beautiful and complex work that is lauded within the industry, but doesn't get results. And it's because 'ordinary' people are wary of it, the work doesn't strike a human chord.

If there are any pivotal experiences/decisions you could point to that helped shape your career, what would they be?

It's a piece of advice I've read a million times. It's simple and it's true. So here it is again; If you don’t love what you do, leave now. You wont last. If you do love it, every day will fill you will the most amazing feeling of discovery and joy. Show up and change the world.

What software could you not live without?

I love Illustrator. Slack's great and I have a love hate relationship with Spotify because it now holds all my music, but it's a horrible experience.

Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?

I'm not sure what 'top' means. I feel like the question may be skewed by style or whatever is 'in vogue' at the moment. I guess I'm stalling. I admire lots and lots of design companies, digital and otherwise. But specifically, in their unique approach, three I'd name would be:

- Sagmeister & Walsh

- Draplin Design Co.

- B-Reel

Has winning FWA awards helped you in any way?

It's a great recognition of the belief the client had in backing our creative idea.

When dealing with major clients, how difficult is it to meet the needs of such wide target audiences?

We're in a business that sometimes creates sites and content for the sake of creating something. Creating experiences that no-one ever asked for. Clients can sometimes be their own worst enemy. The things that seem really, really important in their world, usually don't feature in the experience of their customers in the real world. So bridging that gap is the most important factor. Giving the client confidence in stepping outside their comfort zones, but also not betraying that trust by having users experience of the product and interaction be at the forefront of the creative idea.

What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?

The very first site I made myself was a portfolio site of my work. It was a true collage of stolen code. And it's one of the things I'm most proud of. It really gave me an appreciation of code, and was a great learning experience, I was like a kid learning about shapes by pushing square pegs through round holes. And no, it's not online anymore. 

Are there things you do OUTSIDE of work to ensure that you are in the right mindset to be creative and/or successful in whatever you are doing?

I define outside of work as offline. I spend almost 70-80% of my time being online for one reason or another. What that means is I end up looking at the same things as everyone else in the industry. We all do it because it's so damn easy. But it's dangerous, I've seen more and more work that is derivative or self-referential. So remembering that there's inspiration out there that's gotten by just stepping back and observing is crucial.

Looking 10 years in to the future, how far can websites go?

Whatever I answer will look obsolete before the next time I Google myself. How far websites can go will depend on who's pushing it. As the web becomes more and more regulated, we have to be careful it isn't driven by a purely commercial sensibility. 

Before we know it, websites could turn into the equivalent of the fast food industry; shiny, glossy, artificially flavoured and lacking in real nutrition. Don't get me wrong, I love a hit of MSG as much as the next guy, but I firmly believe we should protect the appetite for homemade. Lovingly made, more fragmented, maybe not as pretty but way more wholesome.

Of all the websites you/your company have produced, which one are you most proud of?

It would have to be FIGHTFORATTENTION.COM - it was an amazing group effort and it's the reason I'm talking to you.

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 have a major problem with the education system. It feels so blatantly obsolete in what it promises to deliver. I remember I really lost my way after finishing my MA. It felt like I was fighting against the grain of a set curriculum, it just wasn't the world I lived in and that was back in 2005. I'd dread to think how that feels now. Of course there's an element of learning the tools and basics of a field, but paying extortionate tuition fees to learn how to use software is crazy. You should be learning how to break it.

So yes, you can get into the field without having the school environment, but you have to supplement it with somewhere to hone your taste, and learn how to take feedback and build on ideas. Those are things that are equally important to the creative process as knowing how to use the tools. You can only get so good if your mum is the only one giving you feedback.

How have you learned so many Flash/design skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?

Here's some advice for when you're starting out. Learn by emulating great work. And by emulate, I mean steal from it. 

How do you keep your finger on the pulse of the latest web trends?

I spend time seeking out web experiences online. I'm exposed to a lot of what's new because of the nature of the work I do. But it's when I stumble on those experiences as an everyday user rather than part of my job that I find it really valuable. Going through an online experience the way its intended to be interacted with and learning from the emotions I feel during that gives me more information on what works than reading about other peoples commentary on trends.  

There must be a project that you have always dreamed of doing, what is it?

There's a project I've been discussing with one of my colleagues for a while, we've had ideas on writing and producing a short comedy series. That would be fun.

What does the future hold for your company, or you as a person?

The future of the company is really exciting. We are involved with so many projects that spill out of conventional advertising. There is a real emphasis on emergence here as opposed to it feeling like a manufacturing line with a set way of working. It feels like we are on the verge of something really special, and its a privilege to be a part of that. 

What is the most expensive thing you have bought in the last week?

I bought a plane ticket to go 'home home' and visit my parents.

Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?

New technology and new ideas are sometimes mistaken for each other, there will always be a new technique, a new way of making something, a new gadget. The first people to use it will get away with it because its fresh and new, in most cases it’ll stick, it’ll feel creative, whether it has a creative idea behind it or not. But as a fresh idea, it’s a one trick pony. 

I was reading this book that asked 'When will we perceive our work to be meaningful?' And it went on to answers, 'When it delights people or when it helps people.'

This is, in essence, true for the work that has mattered in the past, and the work that will matter in the future. It's work that won't be defined in the shape of little statues, shiny lions or any other shaped pats on the back, but defined in how it works, for actual people in the real world.

It has been a privilege, thanks very much

Absolutely, same time next week?


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Eye-tracking software is used in the new ŠKODA ad creative by 18 Feet & Rising.
Eye-tracking software is used in the new ŠKODA ad creative by 18 Feet & Rising.

The eye-tracking software is used in the new ŠKODA ad creative to track which car the user gives more attention to.
The eye-tracking software is used in the new ŠKODA ad creative to track which car the user gives more attention to.

At the end of the film, the user is told which car grabbed more of their attention.
At the end of the film, the user is told which car grabbed more of their attention.

Demo of the ŠKODA ad creative on the campaign site Fight For Attention.

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