Realizing that success is in your own hands, that compromising quality is not an option and that everyday is a gift - make the absolute best work you can every single time you step up to the plate no matter the project.
Please give us a brief bio of yourself.
My name is Andre Le Masurier, friends call me Dré. I was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Canada but have called a few places home over the years - most fondly, aside from home would be Japan. I am currently a Group Creative Director at MacLaren MRM, Toronto working on GM brand and XBox. I previously worked at OneMethod Inc. here in Toronto as an Sr. Art Director on brands like Nokia, MSN and Cineplex where I played in almost every medium from coding in Flash to After Effects, film, print - you name it - a rad shop to work at BTW.
I actually graduated from UofT with an Economics degree but quickly realized being a suit was not for me - felt like eating sand with a shovel. For me there has always been something about great design that stoked a fire within. I started out as a digital retoucher working on Lexus back in the mid - late 90's and designing club flyers in my free time but moved quickly into interactive - that was around the time Photoshop came on like 22 diskettes...it has been a love affair ever since.
What do you do for inspiration?
The typical travel answer comes to mind first and foremost. I love surfing so I get away with my wife and daughter as much as possible. The world has so much to offer and getting out of your comfort zone and seeing life through another culture is supremely inspirational. I love sites like Behance, ffffound, Motionographer and of course FWA to name but a few, there are so many to choose from. You get to see the best of the best on a daily basis and that always lights a fire under my ass to do better work. Music is also a great source of inspiration for me. Oh and video games too for sure.
Please list 3 of your favourite sites.
Wow, that's a tough one. Well, I would have to say that my all time favourite site would have to be North Kingdom's Get the glass. That site is epic on so many levels. Every single detail was so well done, from the playing card design to how they created a scale model island for the production so flawlessly. The guys at NK are crazy good.
There are a few blogs that I go to almost daily. DigitalBuzzBlog is a really great place to get the latest best of the best from around the world. Ventilate is another good one and Slideshare is a great learning tool.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
Meeting my wife, talking her into marrying me and then having a daughter with her has to top the list. She is the best person I have ever met.
How many hours do you work each week?
Too many but not enough.
How do you relax or unwind?
Chillin with my wife/daughter is great for sure. Surfing always gets me back to square one and meditation, if you haven't tried it, is a really good way to recharge/reset the mind. Playing guitar is another great way to forget about everything else in the world.
If you weren't working on the internet what would you be doing?
Good question, I always wanted to open up a surf camp somewhere so who knows.
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 people in this industry for sure, that and the creativity that comes from true collaboration.
Red tape and bureaucracy sucks, and meetings - there are too many of them.
When I get stuck I drop what I am doing and get out, see a movie, go to an exhibit, go for a walk. The one thing I don't do anymore is worry about it....it always seems to work itself out.
What's the longest you've ever stayed up working on a project?
Dunno, probably like 40hrs or so I guess - give or take. More than once in my time of that I am sure.
If there are any pivotal experiences/decisions you could point to that helped shape your career, what would they be?
Realizing that success is in your own hands, that compromising quality is not an option and that everyday is a gift - make the absolute best work you can every single time you step up to the plate no matter the project. That came to me when I was just out of school knocking on doors trying to crack into this industry back in the day. It was a great lesson I have never forgotten.
What software could you not live without?
Certainly Photoshop - it has been with me from the start and is the base program I work from. Flash is a close second though.
How many projects does your company juggle at any one time?
Geez, it can range anywhere from 10 - 30 in my group alone.
Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?
ISO50 - S. Hansen not so much a company per say but he is crazy good, I love his style.
What area of web design lacks the most?
I would say conceptual ideation has been lacking for such a long time but it is really making strides even within this last year. The interactive work is still about nice design and polish but now there seems to be a lot more thought going into every little nuance - just look at prettyloaded.com and you'll see what I mean. That is the kind of good thinking going into the smallest details and it's getting better.
Are there any websites that have shone through as being pioneering in the last 5 years or so?
Like I said North Kingdom's Get the glass was a game changer for me personally. BooneOakley's idea to create a site using YouTube was - a think different mentality for sure that lead to a lot of buzz and success. I really loved the Panasonic Cinema 21:9 site, that was an unreal experience. Labuat was a site that I felt was absolutely perfect. Interactive, fun, beautiful, and engrossing front to back. I also have to mention the Red Interactive site which used real social engagement, seemed to me like it was one of the first sites to do it well with a purpose.
When dealing with major clients, how difficult is it to meet the needs of such wide target audiences?
It can be pretty hard at times but all you really need in the end is a great brief with a solid insight. The rest will take care of itself. You can't please all of the people all of the time - same goes for clients but as long as you thoroughly think through the process at each step and stay true to the brief you should be fine.
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
It was an abomination - like all kids out of school I thought it was pretty good but looking back now...certainly not online.
Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?
I recently created a children's book with my team here for a charity which was a blast. I would love to write a book on design, interactive and the agency life maybe at some point in the future, we'll see.
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 always try to keep an open mind no matter what I am doing. I try and look at the world through a different set of glasses whenever possible. I also try and switch it up now and then and break my routines. Listen to different music, go eat at a new place I have never been before, surf a break I have never been to, books are great too.
What was the last digital effort you saw (or were a part of) that used social media in a way that really made sense. Why?
The Buick site which we just won an FWA for is a good example of how to use social media well I think. Buick made it easy for us to sell their cars - they really and truly are great these days, winning awards and kicking ass all over the place. People are saying very positive things, all we did at the end of the experience is point people in that direction where the conversations are happening - nothing breakthrough really but effective. Total transparency is the order of the day, a brand like Buick which has made such amazing strides in the last couple of years is a natural conversation starter. We told a story that many have never heard then pointed them where the real conversation is already happening to share/converse.
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?
Our campaign for the release of Halo3 ODST started out as 3 online videos planted on YouTube. Each video had a clue in it. This audience is a very clever and voracious bunch who love solving puzzles. This lead them on a journey that went from online into the outdoors where they had to find decals, shoot them, put them together in Photoshop and band together to solve the puzzle and work as a community. It was planned from the beginning and was super successful for MacLaren and the brand. I suggest people watch the video here to get a better sense of it.
The web is getting out of the web. Do you find that thinking in digital solutions alone hinders you? Do you feel the urge to solve the problem using all mediums necessary?
Certainly, we try and think beyond the medium on every single project possible. Digital is ubiquitous these days but there are also a myriad of other channels you can use that tie back to the strategy seamlessly. I absolutely hate when large media buys are purchased a year in advance for "savings". Then you run 40k banners with a hope that you get a .1% click through rate. It drives me crazy - as we all know media is not cheap. Why not take the whole sum of that spend and do something else with it? The possibilities are endless.
Looking 10 years in to the future, how far can websites go?
Well, now that is a question... With products like the iPad and smart phones, geo-tagging, augmented reality, large touch surfaces/projections and the reach and power of the social sphere - who knows - we're just scratching the surface. Some of the stuff I have seen from Wired, TED and their ideas for interactive magazines etc. are also just the beginning - there are some heavy hitters like Google who can do some real crazy stuff that seems like science fiction even now. I don't think that the destination web is going to die as long as we provide users with a great experience and content but what is next remains to be seen.
Of all the websites you/your company have produced, which one are you most proud of?
The Buick site was a real departure in a lot of ways for our client. A lot of things had to go well right from the get go - it just so happened that Dave Lyon who works for GM is very charismatic and came off so well in the v/o - the story turned out to be a really interesting one too. It was also the first time I had worked with such an amazing world class animation shop like Motion Theory and Jam3 as always knocked the flash and motion work out of the park.
Although not a website our Halo 3 ODST mini ARG was also a lot of fun but we didn't really sleep for like two weeks - it was a wild ride that we pulled off in like 3 weeks from the word go.
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
I certainly hope so, I really do enjoy working with it. HTML5 was being touted as a flash killer but I don't think it is going anywhere soon. I feel it is only a matter of time before it finds it's way onto the iPhone/iPad devices and that will be huge.
What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?
Yeah for sure. Some people are just scary talented. I also think on some level that good design sense is innate to some degree and cannot be taught, just an opinion. School is good for teaching you about time management, deadlines, meeting friends and building a network but you have to take it seriously and work to build a book that is solid. I think it really depends on the school though. Some are still too heavily influenced by theory instead of reality. You end up out of school really green but we all have to start somewhere.
If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring FWA award submitter, what advice would you give them?
The devil is in the details, dream big, do something different and never stop reaching for that next gear.
How do you keep up with the latest capabilities of Flash or do you rely on other members of you team to do this?
I still play with it as much as I can and I read a lot.
What would be your ultimate vehicle to travel in?
Time machine in the form of a Porsche GT.
How do you keep your finger on the pulse of the latest web trends?
I never stop looking for new inspiring work anywhere and everywhere I can. I follow the best people and subscribe to lots of publications etc.
What country excites you the most in terms of innovation?
South America is amazing in general. Guys like GroupoW in Brazil blow me away. They are so creative, great thinking and amazing execution plus I love the style from that part of the world.
What is the most expensive thing you have bought in the last week?
A Flip Video Camcorder.
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
Good is the evil of great.
It has been a privilege, thanks very much
Likewise, mad respect to you Rob.