I'm a card magician in my spare time and this really does set me up well for the work I do. The internet is largely held together with string and sellotape, it's all smokes and mirrors.
Please give us a brief bio of yourself.
I'm the Creative Director at Thought Den, working mostly in Bristol, lots in London, sometimes in San Fran and occasionally Amsterdam. I make sure our projects look and feel great and our clients are happy. My skills sit somewhere between rigid logic (coming from a programming background) and flouncy emotion (I blame my mother)
What do you do for inspiration?
Ever since my uni days of Pro-Plus and late-night Flash programming The FWA has been a regular source of awesome for me, and now the rest of the team. Beyond that I take inspiration from everything I see, hear and touch. I'm the annoying kid rattling the stick along the railings or stopping in the middle of the street to pick up a colourful leaf.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
Magic Tate Ball has been a real labour of love and is the work I am most proud of to date. Working with Tate, being featured in Creative Review and hitting an average of 3,000 downloads a day since launch is just absolutely mind blowing.
How many hours do you work each week?
It's pretty much every waking hour, but I'm not complaining. I'm always analysing, brainstorming, thinking, plotting. The office hours are usually a respectable 10am - 6:30pm, with a decent spell of FIFA on the XBox.
How do you relax or unwind?
Being physical is really important. I hate that our industry working standard is 8 hours a day in front of a MacBook Pro. So I cycle, play football and practice Capoeira as much as possible. Being physical really helps my brain stop.
If there are any pivotal experiences/decisions you could point to that helped shape your career, what would they be?
After graduation I had some incredible support from Bournemouth University, who entered my final year project into a number of award ceremonies. Off the back of those events, I met a few movers and shakers. Bournemouth have been great throughout my professional career, so I like to put a lot back in. Every year we run an industry workshop with 150 students for 3 days. It's mental.
What software could you not live without?
Gotta be the trusty web-browser I'd say. Especially because you can deliver such a range of experiences through it. Beyond that it's the Creative Suite from Adobe all the way
How many projects does your company juggle at any one time?
We normally aim to have one internal project running alongside one or two commercial ones. The truth is, we react to what comes in, so certain months will be chaotic, and others will be quieter. The down time lets us work on things like lunchometer.co.uk, for local communities rate their lunch spots.
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'm a card magician in my spare time and this really does set me up well for the work I do. The internet is largely held together with string and sellotape, it's all smokes and mirrors. The art of distraction and persuasion is so important! That's not to say we're completely cynical about what we do - our work aims to provide genuine value, but from time to time you need a bit of magic to make it work.
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?
We apply our philosophy of 'playful learning' across a range of media, not just because they're there or because people are using them, but because each medium has its own strengths and weaknesses. Large installation projects are great for groups but perhaps worse for a more cerebral engagement. Mobile platforms are incredible in that they come everywhere with us, instantly accessible on the tube, toilet or top of Kilimanjaro. Our approach is lead first by the end objective. The technology comes later, preferably in the background.
What was the toughest thing you ever did with Flash? How long did you spend on it? Is it still online?
Back in the day, at Bournemouth University in 2005, I launched a 3D tour to Amsterdam. I created a model of the city, building by building, in Cinema4D, then rendered out a series of fly-through movies. In flash I connected these numerous video renders to give the user the impression they could freely navigate a 3D world. At the time it was revolutionary, before YouTube, Facebook, StreetView and the rest, but it almost killed me! The product evolved into the Virtual Tour and there is an example here : www.port.ac.uk/virtualtour
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
I've always loved Flash and I hope it doesn't die out. It certainly still has a relevance, particularly in game design. You can't distribute and seed Unity games as you can with Flash. And sites like Kongregate and Miniclip thrive on Flash content. So it's still important, and will last a few years more at least, but isn't the daddy it was.
What would be your ultimate vehicle to travel in?
I'm pretty keen on the humble horse and cart at the moment. Everything is so fast and furious that a few days on the road, at a snail's pace, might do me some good. That, or a Concorde. Sad to see that bit flying innovation bite the dust. Part of Bristol's engineering heritage!
When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?
Doing great work, and making sure the right people were talking about it. From the start, and to this day, we put the extra love and attention into our work. This is often to the detriment of any profit we hope to make, but it means we're always happy with the work we ship.
What country excites you the most in terms of innovation?
There is obviously a lot of activity in Silicon Valley, but Britain is blazing big guns at the moment. There is some fantastic creative work coming out of London, Bristol, Manchester. And of course the Dutch are great entrepreneurs, I like to try and keep my eyes on what they're up to.
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
Don't be afraid to be different. It's hard, you'll take knocks, but at the end of the day being different is what makes you stand out, and standing out will lead to the recognition you deserve!