I’m more of a morning person rather than a night owl. It’s not unusual for me to get up at 4am when a deadline is looming. There's always a point when I find it’s best to step away and approach the project with fresh eyes in the morning. Plus, there's nothing like blind panic to stir the creative juices.

Please give us a brief bio of yourself.

Hello, I’m Alan Abbott. I’m the Creative Head here at twentysix. Based in our Leeds office in the north of England. I’ve been here for 4 years now and have witnessed the company grow from 20 staff to nearly 100. It’ been great to be in the middle of that.

After nearly 15 years working as an online creative I still count myself very lucky that I get paid for doing something I enjoy. 

What do you do for inspiration?

I think this is the same for most designers but I think inspiration is everywhere. It sounds slightly naff but it’s true. When you have a project whizzing around your head inspiration can arise from the most unlikely of places. Anything from nicely designed packaging to cool directmail can influence the look and feel of an app or a button. 

Please list 3 of your favourite sites.

http://www.bbc.co.uk -  Still the number 1 for news...and catching up on the TV I’ve missed.

http://www.mudsweatandtears.co.uk – If you like running offroad it’s a great source for news, reviews and blogs etc.

http://www.wiggle.co.uk – where most of my hard earned wage disappears 

What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?

Career wise -  I touched up on it above but I think it’s a great achievement to have a job that I enjoy. There are so many people who dread going to work. I’m a naturally creative person so to arrive into work everyday and to be encouraged to be creative is great. After 15 years I still enjoy doing what I do.

Personally – My wife and I maintaining an element of sanity whilst bringing up 3 boys...and a Jack Russell.

How many hours do you work each week?

We’re contracted to work 37.5 hours but as anyone who works within an agency knows, you’ve got to be flexible.

How do you relax or unwind?

I have 2 year old triplet sons so I don’t really get chance to relax that much.
I’m a great believer in exercise and fresh air, so I try to run as much as I can. It’s a great way to clear the mind and relax. I also spend as much time as possible outside. Whether that’s exercising or just relaxing with the family in the garden.

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

Something outside. I always thought a National Trust Park Ranger would be a good job. Until I saw one being violently ill after pulling a dead sheep from a river. My perspective changed after that.

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 best part is when you've nailed an idea. An idea that looks great, answers the brief and excites the client. The hardest part is trying to come up with those great ideas.

I think I spend most of my time stuck. Experience has lead me to believe that there will always be an outcome. If in doubt, brainstorm!

What's the longest you've ever stayed up working on a project?

I’m more of a morning person rather than a night owl. It’s not unusual for me to get up at 4am when a deadline is looming. There's always a point when I find it’s best to step away and approach the project with fresh eyes in the morning. Plus, there's nothing like blind panic to stir the creative juices.

What software could you not live without?

This is easy...Fireworks. The most important innovation since the invention of the wheel.

(This will stoke the fires of debate amongst our Photoshop loving design team members)

Has winning FWA awards helped you in any way?

It's great to get the recognition for the amount of time and effort the team puts into these projects. We have won several FWA awards across multiple platforms so it demonstrates to our clients and prospective clients the diversity of our skill set.

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

It was a long time ago so I very much doubt it’s still online. It was for an art exhibition at the Tate Gallery. Compared to today's sites it was probably on a par technically with a PowerPoint presentation. People were still obsessed with Director and CD Roms back then. If I remember correctly there was a lot of large jpegs with image maps.

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

There are two that really spring to mind, an interactive 3D educational tool and our Gallery of Mo website. The education project is a fully customisable, cross platform, 3D tool that publishes across ipad and desktop and reports progress back to a central LMS. It’s an incredibly flexible and functional piece of programming all wrapped in a beautifully moving design. I think it’s something the agency can be very proud of.

Gallery of Mo was our annual charity initiative. Aimed at raising money for the Movember campaign. The agency and the team invested a lot of time and effort to create this years initiative. It’s a fun campaign that raised money for a great cause – over £5,000. A team of illustrators from across the globe created hundreds of illustrations for donators. It was hard work but ultimately we got a lot out of it...and it won an FWA award.

Do you think Flash is here to stay?

I think it’s here to stay in some guise. The challenge for Adobe is to mould the software to developers needs. People have been forecasting the demise of Flash for years now...it’s still here. 

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 think you can see a creative spark in a person whether they are university, college or school educated. It’s all about passion, a desire to work and a good portfolio with great ideas. I’d say if you’re lucky enough to get a job within an agency straight from school then your skills and experience will be better than any university education. Alas, it’s easier to get a foot in the door with a degree.

How difficult do you find employing the right people in a world where everyone calls themselves a web designer?

It is very difficult. It’s hard to find people with the right blend of enthusiasm, technological knowledge and creative spark.

What would be your ultimate vehicle to travel in?

My dad was a bit of a Mod when I was a kid so I’ve always craved for a scooter. I don’t own one yet. I’m saving it for my mid life crisis. A nicely restored vintage Lambretta would be very cool. Only in the summer though.

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

I’m primarily an online creative so I mainly keep up to date online. However I don’t limit myself to solely sourcing online marketing. It’s good to see design within a bigger picture. Things move so fast nowadays that trends seem to change daily. It’s essential to keep abreast with what’s out there.

Colleagues help a great deal as well. Our design team is great at forwarding links and drawing attention to innovative web work.

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

As a company we want to continue doing what we do best. Approaching new challenges with fresh ideas. The environment is changing all the time and we enjoy trying to keep up and strive to be ahead. We have a real collaborative culture through out the office. Everyone wants to deliver the best. The more diverse clever digital offerings we can get stuck into, the better.

As for me personally, my aim is to grow with the company and as always, try and produce great work. I think every designer aspires for that. Outside of work I just want to enjoy myself and watch my kids grow up.

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

That's easy, clothes for my kids. Buying 3 of everything makes shopping costly.

It has been a privilege, thanks very much

No worries, thanks very much


Alan Abbott - Creative Head, twentysix
Alan Abbott - Creative Head, twentysix

The Living Room - One of our many themed meeting rooms
The Living Room - One of our many themed meeting rooms

Our Garden Room & White room - Themed meeting rooms
Our Garden Room & White room - Themed meeting rooms

Gallery of Mo - www.galleryofmo.co.uk
Gallery of Mo - www.galleryofmo.co.uk

Gumball iPhone/iPad app for Cartoon Network
Gumball iPhone/iPad app for Cartoon Network

Design Museum iPad app
Design Museum iPad app

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