.

The question is: Does it matter if flash is here to stay? I love flash. But it's just a tool. If I can make stuff using different tools that's fine with me. I used to draw with Faber-Castell liner now I use Uni Pin. I used QuarkXPress, now I design books in Adobe InDesign. Does it influence my projects? I really don't think so. For now I use both, flash and html5 depending on the project. If in a few years we get something different I will use it too. I love to learn new things.

Please give us a brief bio of yourself.

I'm a 50% of Hipopotam. A small studio from Warsaw, Poland that my wife and I started when we were at third year of Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw (about 5 years ago). We graduated from Book Design (now I teach book design in the same studio) and books were always our main interest. We write and design books for children. This gave us some popularity. You can buy our books in many European countries. They have been translated to over dozen of languages.

We love to learn new skills and explore other mediums. That's why we started to program stuff. At first we just needed a portfolio but after a while it became an addiction.

For quite some time now we stopped taking commissions for websites. We still want to design interactive experience but we want to concentrate on our ideas.

What do you do for inspiration?

I watch TED videos. They really give me a boost to be better in what I do. I look at great work on web and in bookstores (those real ones with paper books).

Please list 3 of your favourite sites.

Definitely TED.com and theFWA.com for keeping me on the edge and putting me on a right place (there is always someone better) and Google reader. I know this is more an app than a website. I still use a lot of RSS. I have few hundred subscriptions in it and most of them Twitter just can't fill in. Every day I start by two hours of going through all this beautiful stuff that have emerged on the internet during last night.

How many hours do you work each week?

We're workaholics. We get up at 7-8 am, we fead the cats, and we work until 9 pm with just a break to prepare food (food is sooo important for us). If you want to be good at something you have to work your ass off. And when you love what you do, working 13 hours 7 day a week is not a problem. On the contrary.

How do you relax or unwind?

I'm an archer. I shoot with a traditional Eastern bow. That calms me down. I also like cooking. Maybe not as much as eating :) but making and tasting good and healthy food really brings my morale up. In polish there is a saying: "in a healthy body healthy mind". I'm not a sportish guy but this is my way of making it true.

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

We were very lucky. First we had a great teachers. Maciej Buszewicz taught us how to design books, Włodzimierz Szymański and Leon Tarasewicz taught us how to draw and use colour. They are all very famous polish artists. It's a privilege to be their students. But that wasn't all. Just few months after graduation we were asked by a publisher Dwie Siostry to write and design a book about architecture. We called it H.O.U.S.E. and it was a career booster for us. I guess you have to meet the right people to make it through.

What area of web design lacks the most?

Typography. It's unbelievable that we still can't make hyphenation and proper justification in the text. That we can't use all of the OpenType features and flow text between frames. I miss so many simple options that are obvious in InDesign.

Has winning FWA awards helped you in any way?

Winning the first SOTD was a dream come true and every next one felt exactly the same. Why is that? Few years back I wasn't interested in designing websites. I didn't know much about it and I couldn't find anything that would really blow me away. One day, about 9 years ago, my friend showed me theFWA.com and it changed everything. I started to learn ActionScript then PHP, JavaScript and so one. This was an eye-opener and every time our website gets a FWA I'm very proud that maybe it can do the same for someone else.

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

Our first site was terrible. It was our portfolio, it included a rubber hippopotamus and it was made with no knowledge about the technology. We changed it about a year later.

Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?

Yes I have. As I said, this is what we do. But I haven't written any book about design. I'm not sure if I want to. Maybe some day I would like to write short texts for magazines or something.

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?

Teaching is very important for me. I devote a lot of time for that. This gave me the ability to verbalise problems and errors in a particular design. This is so important because I can't tell to my students: "that's bad, go home and fix it". I have to know why it's bad and first of all if it's really bad or I just don't like it. I also enjoy watching students reviling their talent. Becoming aware of their skills and making better and better projects. I feel good about myself knowing that I helped them a little bit with that.

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?

I always thought that everything is getting into the web and not vice versa. Our origins are on paper but I love every medium that I can work with. It's just important to remember the difference between mediums and try to use the strengths of each one. When we did a site for our book 'What Will Become of You?' , we knew that it has to be something totally different from a book. We created four mini games and now you can have a book or a game or both but they're not just coping each other. I think this is a big problem with picture eBooks for children. They trying too hard to be books on screen instead of becoming a totally new experience.

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

As far as we take them. I hope I will be the part of every stage of web evolution in the next few decades but I have no idea how they will look like. And probably that's the best part of it.

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

I like buszmeni.pl. It's a website were you can browse through books created during last 11 years in Maciej Buszewicz book design studio on Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. This is a place were I teach book design and I am proud to be a part of it. I also like Bubole and Pica Pic because they were a side projects for us and in the end turned out to be one of our most popular websites.

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

The toughest thing I ever did in flash was making myself to learn it. I was a book designer and I thought  paper and digital world are opposites of each other. I don't know if I could be more wrong.

Do you think Flash is here to stay?

The question is: Does it matter if flash is here to stay? I love flash. But it's just a tool. If I can make stuff using different tools that's fine with me. I used to draw with Faber-Castell liner now I use Uni Pin. I used QuarkXPress, now I design books in Adobe InDesign. Does it influence my projects? I really don't think so. For now I use both, flash and html5 depending on the project. If in a few years we get something different I will use it too. I love to learn new things.

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

Yes but I think it's just much easier with the school than without. There are many reasons for that but two of them are crucial. It's faster (you get the basic ideas on a plate) and you get to know many interesting designers. This is so helpful. In a few years you will notice that you know a lot of successful people from your field. You can start your own company with them or just do some projects together.

If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring FWA award submitter, what advice would you give them?

I will use a quote from my favourite song from Tim's Burton Beetlejuice:

"Work, work, work, Senora, work your body line
Work, work, work, Senora, work it all the time"

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

When your work doesn't depend on clients moods, you find it very easy to do projects of your dreams. We're very lucky because for the last 3 or 4 years we've been living a designer dream.

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

A kilo of prime beef.

It has been a privilege, thanks very much

Thanks. My pleasure.


Links

hr
Me and my wife. The full Hipopotam Studio.
Me and my wife. The full Hipopotam Studio.

H.O.U.S.E.
H.O.U.S.E.

buszmeni.pl
buszmeni.pl

One of our cats.
One of our cats.

What will become of you?
What will become of you?

What will become of you?
What will become of you?

cozciebiewyrosnie.pl
cozciebiewyrosnie.pl

Traditional archery tournament.
Traditional archery tournament.

pica-pic.com
pica-pic.com

bubole.pl
bubole.pl

Archery training.
Archery training.

Our new book 'We're here'. Space expedition, visions and experiments.
Our new book "We're here". Space expedition, visions and experiments.

We're here.
We're here.

neutrino2011.com
neutrino2011.com

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