We wanted to scare off clients that were afraid of taking risks creatively and attract designers that were into creating original work, not just following the latest trend in layout.
Please give us a brief bio of yourself.
I am the creative director of Juxt Interactive a full service interactive agency in southern California. I have been designing for the web since 1995 and previous to that I was an architect that did freelance graphic design on the side.
What do you do for inspiration?
I look at the world around me. There is so much to draw from almost anywhere you look, if you're trained to see it. I get a lot of inspiration from the projects and clients that I am working with. I think the best way for the work to be relevant is for the design concepts to organically flow from the project and not some abstract style.
Please list 3 of your favourite sites.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
Having children then raising them to turn out relatively normal.
What projects do you have in the pipeline?
We recently did a project for Friends of ed called The Reactive Group which should launch very soon. We are working on the redesign of reef1.com and hmcgroup.com as well as several other projects.
What software couldn't you live without?
Flash and Photoshop
Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?
There is no way to name a top 3 of anything except competitive sports. It is all relevant to opinion of what is the top. Three firms I admire are:
- Frank Gehry Architects
What did your very first site look like?
Utter crap. HTML 1.0 was not graphic design, it was graphic putting together.
What effect on traffic do your new designs have?
Depends on how the site is promoted. If we do a great job they will get a bunch of designers going by for a look but that is not really relevant to their 0bjectives unless their target market is designers.
The reason why a good site draws traffic is because mainstream culture really couldn't care less about beautiful design. They want to be informed or entertained. So if you want to draw traffic you go out and tell your audience that your site will inform or entertain them in such a way that is desirable and relevant to them (this is a generalization of course).
Who is your target audience?
On our current site it was 80% towards potential employees and 20% towards potential
clients. We wanted to scare off clients that were afraid of taking risks creatively and attract designers that were into creating original work, not just following the latest trend in layout. We are working on a new site that has more focus on attracting business as times have changed and that is now the more difficult of the two tasks.
What area of web design lacks the most?
Details. In print the details are the key to good work, on the web the details are typically over looked. There is a whole generation of self-taught designers that are designing professionally and have no clue how weak their work actually is. They think they are badass because they can actionscript but the truth is in the results. Not to bag on being self-taught because I am self-taught, but you need to take the time to learn, really learn design along with the design tools before you should be selling your services to clients.
Have you written any books?
What was the toughest thing you ever did with Flash? How long did you spend on it? Is it still online?
The toughest thing was rebuilding the intro and home page to lundstromarch.com after flash 2 crashed and corrupted my file. It cost me 40 hours. I was not a happy guy.
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
For the next few years, yes. Eventually technology will change and another tool will emerge but I don't see macromedia sitting around on their behinds in ignorance of this. They are working hard to evolve the technology of flash. That will give it life span but I think ultimately technology one day will grow past it. But it is not really about the tool it is about what you need to do with the tool that is what you should be focused on.
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, I'm self-taught. I enjoyed college but started working in my field of choice (architecture) before I graduated. I excelled in the professional environment despite my lack of formal education. I was very passionate about architecture and poured over books and did tons work on my one for competitions and what not.
When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?
Well, we started fairly early on the web 1998. It was still at a time that there really was not a lot of good design happening on the web. Consequently when you did something good everybody noticed and the phone would ring off the hook with opportunities to do work.
We were really selective in those days we only took a small fraction of the projects that came our way. We were in a situation where we could only turn out so much work so fast and we did not want to be like the Razorfishes etc and balloon in to this massive company just for the sake of taking any and all work no matter what it was. So we took work that challenged us creatively or technologically.
A lot has changed since those days now you have to go out and find the work and fight for it.
How have you learned so many Flash/design skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?
Learn the basic skills of design like typography and layout first then master the tool.
What is the most expensive thing you've bought in the last week?
Two Towers DVD
What type of overcoat do you wear when Flashing, basically are you a labels man?
I have a vans denim jacket and lots of billabong jackets (love my clients).
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
Don't take yourself too seriously. Most people in the world have no idea what being a graphic designer is, much less what flash is. Just love what you do day in and day out and try to always be growing
It's been a privilege, Todd, thanks very much.
No, thank you very much.