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

One week (7 full days), with shower breaks

Please give us a brief bio of yourself.

My name is Brian Carley. I grew up in the lovely Garden State (New Jersey, USA) I've been working in the field of advertising/graphic design for about 13 years. I am currently a creative director at Rokkan in New York, where I have been working for over one year.

Prior to that I worked as a creative director in all mediums at JWT NY, and before that I moonlighted at various other places, including a small shop called RDA in Tribecca and Organic in NYC.

What do you do for inspiration?

I listen to and play a lot of music. I like to purchase cheap instruments from ebay and teach myself how to play them. I also spend time working on collaborative art projects with friends and amateur furniture building around my home. I find that all these things relax me and keep me fresh so that I can stay more resilient and interested in what i'm doing.

Please list 3 of your favourite sites.

tumblr.com (it's like a treasure trove of ridiculousness) 

ffffound.com

craigslist.org

What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?

Having been a part of creating something that millions of people have seen, touched, or interacted with on some level is a pretty amazing thing. 

How many hours do you work each week?

This is difficult to say. I don't necessarily feel like I ever completely stop working during the course of a day. There are times when i'm not completely immersed in my work (like when i'm sleeping), however I find that it's always there in my thought process, for better or for worse. Or, like 70 - 90 depending on the week.

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

Playing music

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

I really enjoy the ideation process. Sitting in a room, coming up with ideas, getting excited about the possibilities of what something can be. The hard part is taking that concept and producing it, and dealing with the realities of clients, approvals, opinions, etc. When I get stuck, i usually leave the office and get a cup of coffee to clear my head.

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

One week (7 full days), with shower breaks

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

I think that making the move from such a massive ad agency to go and be on the production end of things was personally a defining moment for me. I always thought that I wanted to be on the genesis of an idea to help shape it and form it and little by little i came to the realization that ideas mutate so much during the course of their existence, that I can do even more with an idea in the position that i'm in now. I also feel like I have more creative control over an idea at a smaller shop like Rokkan. The experience of working at a place like JWT taught me a lot and i'm grateful for the time I spent there.

What software could you not live without?

Photoshop.

How many projects does your company juggle at any one time?

Anywhere from 10 - 30.

Are there any websites that have shone through as being pioneering in the last 5 years or so?

I think that what Goodby and North Kingdom did with Get The Glass, was pretty innovative, I also think that B-Reel's work on the hotel/asylum 626 projects pushed the envelope quite a bit. I'm also pretty impressed by what Rokkan did with atlantis.com and virgin-america.com. Prior to me working here, they jumped into 2 really big projects in areas where they had no prior experience and made 2 incredibly well designed and very functional sites that increased sales well beyond expectation. Pretty cool.

Has winning FWA awards helped you in any way?

Yes! I still think the FWA is a much sought after and valuable badge for those of us in the industry. It generates great interest among those of us who are interested. And, well, that's a lot of folks.

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

It was for a band that i was playing in at the time. Sadly, no.

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?

Yes, i'm currently teaching a class in web design at Pratt Institute and I find that it really inspires me to see how younger people are thinking about what is and what will be possible in the interactive space in the years to come.

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

I would have to say, interestingly enough, i'm really proud of what we did for stridegum.com. At the time I worked at JWT and hired Rokkan to do the build. I directed all the video sequences and worked on all the post production. And Rokkan built all the 3D and flash. It was really wonderful to work so collaboratively with such a great team. And i'm happy to now be an official member. 

What was the toughest thing you ever did with Flash? How long did you spend on it? Is it still online?

Probably a site called hyphenhealth.com (which won an FWA back in, maybe 2001? I can't remember) I split design duties with my creative director at the time, but then also coded the entire thing in flash 5 and built elements of it in studio max. There were so many moving parts and so much of it was hardcoded that it was near impossible to update, but we were happy with how it turned out. I think it took a full 2 months from ideation to design to build, and it was essentially all I worked on during that period. I believe there is an archived version of it here: https://s50238.gridserver.com/archive/hyphen/index-flash.html 

*everything was so much smaller back then :)

Do you think Flash is here to stay?

Tough question. Yes and no. I think what we currently call flash will continue to change and grow in ways we can't fully grasp now, but I imagine that it will continue to be an important tool while i'm still working in this industry.

What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?

Absolutely. I went to school for filmmaking and learned basic photoshop skills. I taught myself almost everything else, and had my first job as an HTML coder, where i used notepad to code everything. The more experience you get the easier it is to find a job. If you can put together a tight portfolio, even if it's just comp work of projects you would like to do, if it can show off your design chops or flash chops, etc, then you'll have a better chance than someone with a degree that has little to no work to show.

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

It's increasingly difficult to find good well-rounded people. The term web design is so fragmented today and I often see a lot of the same projects on multiple people's resumés. You have to be very deliberate in discovering exactly what a potential candidate has done on a specific project.

What would be your ultimate vehicle to travel in?

A unicorn

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

Practice makes perfect. I think the most important thing to remember is that there isn't necessarily a "right" way to do something. A good way to start is by emulating design or designers that you admire. This will help you really learn to use your tools well (tools being photoshop, illustrator, flash, aftereffects, etc.). Speed and efficiency is also really important, especially today, when turn around times are usually so short. So, buy books, read tutorials, experiment at home. Make posters for your friend's band, build a websites for free for whoever needs them. The best advice is just create, create, create, as much as you can, as often as you can.

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

It's an exciting time in our industry. We continue to innovate across new platforms, we're constantly trying to out do the last great idea. It's really fun to see what we can do without any creative limitations and we at Rokkan plan to continue down that path as we stretch our arms and take on new projects, work with new people and tackle new obstacles (we've recently done some in-game motion graphics projects and video game box art, check out our site for more). Things are looking good.

It has been a privilege, thanks very much

Thank you!


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