It seems to me like the puberty phase of Flash has come to an end, and designers have managed to overcome the lack of usability/functionality where Jacob Nielsen and his disciples were kicking us in the groin.
Please give us a brief bio of yourself.
How's it going? Name: Karl Ward. Age: 26.
Born: yes, in the UK. Living, working and eating in Oslo, Norway
What do you do for inspiration?
My main catalyst for motivation, inspiration and ideas is definitely music. Under the influence of music I subconsciously conjure up colours and images. It's a kick to try and recreate what passes through the mind. Viewing different sources of traditional media can also provide a scent of freshness.
I also find a great deal of inspiration in travelling, experiencing new senses inputs and playing around.
Please list 3 of your favourite sites.
I'm not really any good at surfing.
What projects do you have in the pipeline?
Next up is a site for xploding plastix with their cinematic, future jazz sound. It's quite a challenge. Needs to be original/experimental, abstract, useful and needs to be updatable from a browser anywhere.
Also coming up is a teaser and some web content for a new net based role-playing game called Darkfall.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
My biggest achievement must be when I coupled with the hottest girl at school just to blow it 1 month later out of laziness.
What software couldn't you live without?
I like to believe that I could survive any situation, but I'd surely have trouble without Flash and Photoshop.
Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?
What effect on traffic do your new designs have?
My homesite www.mjau-mjau.com/classic.html has been getting around 2000 unique hits per day from forums, dedicated flash sites and media inspiration sites. I think it's extra attractive since I publish most of the FLA sourcefiles.
I guess my latest work gets the most hits at 50.000 a day since it's the national pollen reports, and people need it to for their well being. You can find it at www.naaf.no/pollen
Who is your target audience?
For most of my client projects, the target audience is all genres/ages that use the internet regularly. For my experimental projects I believe the target audience consider interactive motion to be an art form and don't mind waiting a couple of seconds extra to be pleased with some inspiring interactive audiovisuals. These people usually have speedy machines, fast connections, and have some relation to audiovisual design themselves. I've actually recieved an amount of requests for creation of sites for clans playing games like Quake, Counterstrike and UT.
What area of web design lacks the most?
I think there could be lots done with interface and navigation. There are too many sites out there abusing 3D and pseudo-futurism for navigation. Things have started to get better since the new millennium though. Designers have started to respect the screen as a tool for presenting visual media without having to simulate other media types. If the future isn't here now, it's not gonna come. Keep it real!
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
My first site was called schmoove groove and featured retrospective images of 60's bands and psychedelic artwork. haha. I also published loads of personal images. Took days to scan all images and artwork. I've still got most of it online, but I lost the main navi parts which were quite funny. I got my first entry level flashsite at: www.mjau-mjau.com/jdm +dead links
Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?
I haven't written any books, but I've done a couple of online tutorials like www.mjau-mjau.com/inter3d. I'd love to do more features on interactive design if I get the time. The potential is definitely there since it allows better visualization of how the dynamics work, and allows source availability.
What was the toughest thing you ever did with Flash? How long did you spend on it? Is it still online?
My toughest project was the first professional project I did. And it still is I think. I hardly knew AS and I was going to create an enormous interactive presentation for binding 5 sister companies under a BIG company. The production had 5 parts which all the viewers went through from Monday to Friday.
They all included animations, music, speech, synch anim, simple games. It was a pain in the ass and I blew time schedule big time. How was I to know about logging quiz results and using AS for simplicity and reusability? I'd love to have a project in that scale today... url is: http://drizzt2.inn.no/tbs/engelsk/ but I won't endorse dwelling into it.
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
With the release of FlashMX and its emphasize on functional dynamic content, I think we'll definitely see some good use of Flash in the next couple of years. It seems to me like the puberty fase of Flash has come to an end, and designers have managed to overcome the lack of usability/functionality where Jacob Nielsen and his disciples were kicking us in the groin. If Flash comes to an end in a couple of years, surely it's gonna be replaced by developing environments which build on the experiences of Flash on the www.
What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?
Sure, although school is often a kick-start. You'll need tons of motivation in any consideration.
When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?
Making your current customers happy.
What is the most expensive thing you've bought in the last week?
A beer I think...
How have you learned so many Flash/design skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?
Basically there aren't many shortcuts to a successive relationship with Flash. It's work-work-work. You need a focused mind, will to learn, eye for visuals and a great deal of motivation. The best thing is to hold onto things you like and see. If you come across source files of examples of AS with source that thrills you, download it! That's a great way of picking up different methods for interactive design.
In many of my earlier projects I am inspired by AS I've seen, but added my own ideas of design. Has it occurred to you what kind of results you could get if you crossed a great designer with a great programmer?
What type of overcoat do you wear when Flashing, basically are you a labels man?
I think clothes are great, but I'm definitely NOT a labels man. I never understood it...
There are so many ugly labels. I like to buy my stuff at upscale 2nd hand clothing shops. Eg. the ones where you need to pay slightly extra since they have already filtered out the cool stuff.
I've always been a fan of the 60's-, psychedelic- or grunge look. Sometimes I even do flashing in my underwear.
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
hmm. Got some pearls of wisdom, but then I would have to upload them in a zip file. If you can't design, just use 1 keyframe and let some AS do the motion design for you. I love that!
It's been a privilege, Karl, thanks very much.
Thank you, and thank you. Keep up the good work over at FWA.