.

Stretch at least once a day... don't watch too much TV... pay attention to what's going on in the world, and, if you can, vote!

  Please give us a brief bio of yourself.

I am a new media designer and freelance artist based in Washington, DC. I started my career in computer graphics as an architectural perspectivist. I worked for a large architecture firm where I did 3d renderings of buildings for clients like the Smithsonian and the Discovery Channel.

I made the switch to designing interactive applications three years ago, participating in projects for such companies as the Discovery Channel, the Museum of Natural History, the Washington Post, Great American Restaurants, and Tenpenh.

  What do you do for inspiration?

Step away from the computer. Listen to Frank Zappa. Go outside and play with my daughter. Drink a lot of coffee. Sketch. Read Create Online and drool over all those creamy milar art mags I can't afford like 'Print'. I also like to watch documentaries... and taped episodes of "Northern Exposure".

  What software couldn't you live without?

Oh, without a doubt, Flash. I straddle the line between designer and computer geek... so it's the perfect app for me. It's the only programming environment where I can get immediate feedback... I can see 0bjects come to life through the blending of interactivity and algorithms.

  Please list 3 of your favourite sites.

I like to surf the links and travel sites a lot. I like www.Moluv.com because Maurice is friendly and doesn't have a big ego. His site is honest and forthcoming, and he hasn't changed the design -- which is good -- and it doesn't try to be anything that it isn't. I love National Geographic's site... just for the content and the interactives. I also like EmergencyExit for dreamy cyber-travelling.

  Who is your target audience?

My target audience is people like me -- people who like to build things, play, and contribute a little to a larger whole. I love technology, and I've always loved playing legos, and I still love architecture.

  What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?

My daughter... no - wait, that's my wife's biggest achievement <grin>.

I think it was finally admitting to myself that my career in architecture wasn't going to amount to much, and to really express myself as a designer, I had to plug myself into the web. Switching career tracks was jarring at first, but I feel much more at home in this profession.

I also believe that I can utilize my experience in architecture to enhance my perspective in web design.

  What projects do you have in the pipeline?

Does the pipeline include my brain? Well, I'd love to add multiplayer to Zanpo 2... but hosting for a socket server environment is a bit pricey. I also have some ideas for a web-based multiplayer strategy/building game, and an online collaborative - collective canvas kind of thing.

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

I don't think I'm in a position to judge who's best, but I'll tell you I admire what Second Story and Neon Sky have put together as far as real storytelling on the web. I also like EgoMedia's style... but there are SO MANY ultra-talented people out there.

  What effect on traffic do your new designs have?

At first, there was quite a flurry on my new site, but not nearly as big a response as when I launched the first version of my site. The first site was Macromedia's Site of the Day in May, 2001 (shameless plug). The first time they posted it, it blew out my web hosts server. But, after we switched over to a dedicated machine, I got into a lot of people's bookmarks.

  Have you written any books?

I was a contributing author in "Flash & Director, Designing Multiuser Web Sites", a book published by Friends of Ed. I wrote the chapter introducing XML.

  What area of web design lacks the most?

Well, since Flash has such huge potential, it's easy to say how much of it has been unrealized. Flash designers and developers need to go back and study the look and feel of good, usable HTML sites.

I'm growing weary of flash sites with whispy, chalky antialiased fonts that are unreadable, and have little in the way of comprehensible navigation. Flash sites should be just as easy to read as HTML sites, and people should try their best to link to browser controls, and think about saving state in cookies so that Flash movies return to where you were last if your leave the page and then come back.

Sites with unconventional navigation should have live help or prompt lines. I'd also like to see more storytelling out there, and more documentaries.

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

The first site I designed, I was determined to put all of the text content into GIF's so that I could specify the font and make it nice and anti-aliased. It had nine seperate frames, all different colors, and a grid-based navigation system. Is it still online? No, thank god.

  What was the toughest thing you ever did with Flash?

I'd say getting the 3d isometric explorer component of Zanpo to work properly. The world is completely dynamic, contained in little XML files, and has no limit in size, so I needed to work out a way to organize a three dimensional array and a little avatar so that they would always display with a correct stacking order, and still run fairly smoothly.

  Do you think Flash is here to stay?

Yup... despite the efforts of Adobe. Now that we are getting past the 'wow factor', and Flash MX has some real robust programming tools built in, we'll see it used more and more for building real web-based applications.

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

I learned it just by the shear will to bring my ideas to life. I love science and nature, and I love trying to recreate what I see in reality in Flash.

My first real flash experiment, a random tree generator was an obsession for me for a few months... that project really introduced me to the power of Actionscript. I learned a lot about XML and server communication working on Dietfit, a flash-based diet site I did with my current employer, Redmon Group.

My advice for newbies: Stay away from 1-pixel thick black lines in your shapes. It's the default, and it looks amateur and as though no thought was put into the design. Line weight is just as important as shape fill and color. Avoid small anti-aliased fonts, don't over-use shape-tween, and don't be gratuitous.

Looking for design and layout ideas? Pick up a newspaper, an issue of Time or National Geographic, or go to a museum.. that is where you can learn the rules you'll be able to break effectively later on.

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

I wear one of those clear plastic poncho jobs with the translucent hot pink polka dots and daisies all over it... and I never forget my galoshes... because Flash gets everybody wet. Can I say that? Is this a family site? :)

  Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?

Stretch at least once a day... don't watch too much TV... pay attention to what's going on in the world, and, if you can, vote!


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