The Ten Bells on Commercial Street is the current winner for the cheapest watering hole in East London.

  Please give us a brief bio of yourself.

hello all ;) My name is Rick Palmer and I'm the Creative Director / Co -Owner of //Bloc. 27 yrs young, no cats, no kids and currently an unhealthy passion for Medal Of Honour Allied Assault!

  What do you do for inspiration?

talk, drink, play games, laugh. I believe true creativity is born through a process of communication, deconstruction and reconstruction. Or in literal terms talking through a brief (two heads are always better than one, three are better than two etc...), stripping it down, developing thought patterns and ideas, deconstructing them, reconstructing them and continuing this process until a singular strong idea is developed. Then going home and sleeping on it. Rethinking the whole thing and starting again. Questioning every decision and refining as much as possible. If you can do that and still keep it fresh you're onto something.

  Please list 3 of your favourite sites.

www.google.com - couldn't live without it.

www.newstoday.com - the forum gives me my daily dose of designer vitriol

www.linkdup.com - predictable this one, but predictable for a reason.

  What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?

Joined-up writing, never getting expelled (well being asked to leave isn't the same thing right?) and staying in business and continuing to grow and prosper in the current climate

  What projects do you have in the pipeline?

Ladies First - UK garage band for Polydor,

-FIFA game - online viral footy 'related' flash game...top secret client,

-ThreeDNA - inhouse R&D techie playground,

-3SL toys and games (new Epic Records boy band),

-Various other music related projects,

-Gaming sites for console game developers,

-Bonkey Mole - the new levels....

  What software couldn't you live without?

photoshop, truespace, cool edit, flash, BBEdit.

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

Actually not too bad really all things considered... it went live in late 1997 and can still be found in part on some web archives like waybackmachine (which is a great site btw. If you haven't been its great fun digging up all your old work: www.archive.org).

Unfortunately the domain name escapes me all of a sudden...! ;)

  Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?

My only accurate answer would be the 3 with the most innovative and impressive portfolios at any one time.... and that is always changing.

To be honest I've never really considered any one agency to be the 'definitive' designers and I don't think it would be accurate to say otherwise....I put the hours in surfing off newstoday, linkdup, Dik and here amongst others(!) and get impressed by different sites and different people every day.

And if that doesn't answer the question, tough, 'cause thats my answer and I'm sticking to it!

  What effect on traffic do your new designs have?

Varies from project to project. If its a redesign of an already popular destination it will be less than a new site for a new artist... the biggest effect is on our own site when new projects get listed on linkdup and co! ;)

  Who is your target audience?

Predominantly the entertainment industry - Music, Gaming, Film - as this is what we're all in to. It was always part of the plan to work on projects related to the things we enjoyed or believed in and this is where that process has led us. Sorry Mr. Butcher/Baker /CandlestickMaker but you'll have to go elsewhere old boy!

  What area of web design lacks the most?

Design standards in web agencies and 'so-called' web designers who set up with no formal training or comprehension of good design or the design process... we spend a lot of our time as an agency correcting the mistakes of others or reassuring clients who' ve had their fingers burnt by inept and sub-standard designers that not all web agencies are the same. There's too many fakers out there.

I'm also tempted to say good sound design. Well thought out, professional sound design can make or break a site. That's not to say we've always got it right, but highlighting and accepting past mistakes is all part of a good progressive approach to developing our skills...

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

no and no... I'll leave the pearls of wisdom to other people.... all my best comments come after a few too many drinks anyway and I find it impossible to write in that state.

  What was the toughest thing you ever did with Flash?

The next thing we do is always the toughest thing we've ever done in Flash as we're constantly pushing ourselves and flash to do more and more intelligent things. (I say 'we' cause I never work alone on projects but always with the bloc team).

  Do you think Flash is here to stay?

Flash has its issues as I'm sure all designers would agree (!) but Macromedia have some great looking updates in the pipeline and serious plans for the humble application later down the road.

Next gen IDTV consoles will also all be pre-installed with the flash player and this is where we'll start to see its use wherever we look.

Admittedly they could have speeded up its progress somewhat over the last few versions but its definitely here to stay.

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

Educational experience within the design field is invaluable as it affords you the time to experiment and allows for you to get it wrong, make mistakes, learn from others, share you experiences and passion and celebrate the design process in a non-commercial environment.

Commercial experience is without argument essential as this is ultimately where you hope to exercise your design skills - with set budgets, harsh deadlines and tricky clients.... however the freedom given to you within an educational environment really allows for exploration of the theory behind the design process in a way not always enjoyed in a commercial environment.

The lack of constraints that commercial work brings - time, budget, possible client driven guidelines and requests and so on - equates to a period of invaluable creative growth in my opinion. Couple this with some enlightened and experienced tutors and educational experience in a school environment is one not to be missed.

  When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?

Our work. All the BS in the world isn't going to get you taken seriously. The work speaks for itself and when you work in a creative industry like ours, good creative is essential. You also need to be realistic about the projects you can take on and the type of work companies will be willing to give you in the early days.

Our industry is awash with start-ups and everyone is fighting for the same little scraps. I think some sound advice would be to realise your strengths early; outline your goals and your target client list. Be realistic and professional but never lose the sense of fun essential in a creative company.

I would also say it is important not to devalue your expertise and creative skills. Don't be tempted to take on work for little reward other than portfolio. If it doesn't pay, don't bother. Don't be tempted to contribute to the devaluation of our industry by working for nothing. Know your worth and demand a fair price for your time and expertise.

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

Donkey Kong Country for the GBA (perfect for short haul flights)... I've finished it already! :(

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

Design skills... go to college. Forget about making money. Listen to your tutors (most of the time) and have fun with the creative process. I put in my 6 years college training culminating in a degree in graphic design from Central Saint Martins which gave me a solid grounding in the design process and an indepth understanding of design, typography, photography and the visual eye.

Flash Skills....find a friend who's better than you! (or in my case hire people who know what they're doing!). The best way to learn is with someone else's help. It's ok for us because we work as a team all the time so knowledge is shared ;)

  What type of overcoat do you wear when Flashing, basically are you a labels man?

I have a preference for the old birthday suit myself.... although I tend to get a few funny looks from the rest of the office...god knows why...they all behave like they haven't seen a sweaty naked man before! ;) On colder days you're likely to find me in old trainers and even older jeans.

  Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?

1. The Ten Bells on Commercial Street is the current winner for the cheapest watering hole in East London.

2. onFocus="blur()" - "its only html but I like it!" ;)

3. It's not all work, work, work!

  It's been a privilege, Rick, thank you very much.

Don’t mention it old boy ;)

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