I feel that formal design training is a waste of time. The best way to break the rules, is to never have learned them.
Please give us a brief bio of yourself.
As President, Founding Partner and Creative Visionary behind 2advanced Studios, Eric Jordan has achieved significant acclaim for his studio's online presence and work portfolio.
Eric leads a team of accomplished web designers and developers, who work closely to develop unique and compelling websites for high-end corporations and entertainment companies.
Most notably, Eric Jordan has led 2advanced to be recognized as a finalist in two Flash Forward conference exhibitions, and has served as a contributing author in multiple book publications, including: "New Masters of Flash", "Flash 5 Bible", and "Flash 5, Creative Web Animation", and “Flash MX Magic”.
What do you do for inspiration?
Typically I read, sketch, or just daydream as I'm driving on the freeway.
I have a healthy imagination that is constantly feeding me short bursts of imagery, like odd visions of robot police, halogen lamps, how the streets must look in Tokyo when the traffic is really bad.
I'm fascinated by anything on the fringes of technology, so I read a lot of books by William Gibson & Neal Stephenson. They have great descriptions of dark futures where Japanese culture has taken over, and everything seems to be coated in a futuristic glaze of sharp ideas and over-the-top style.
It has formed an interesting perspective for me that I like to carry over into my design.
I tend to just let my imagination run wild and that really gets me in the mood to get creative.
Please list 3 of your favourite sites.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
I'd say my biggest achievement is building 2advanced into a successful studio in this difficult industry. Times have been tough for the world of web design, but we've managed to dodge the bullets and really push through to the other side unscathed.
I couldn't be happier with the way things have been going for us, and to watch 2advanced mature from a solo portfolio to a studio with 10 people cranking out awesome work is really a privilege.
What software couldn't you live without?
I think I'd stop breathing if I ever lost my copy of Flash.
What effect on traffic do your new designs have?
Because of our following we tend to drive a lot of traffic, which is great for us, and great for our clients.
What projects do you have in the pipeline?
We just launched the 2003 Expedition microsite for Ford Vehicles.
As for in the pipeline, we have a ton of new projects ready to release soon that we've been developing over the past few months, along with some large behind-the-scenes work that the public will never know about because the companies forbid us from disclosing that we did the work.
Some of our current up-front projects include an NHL team, a prominent software company, a blue-screen technology firm, and a popular Gin brand.
We are under N.D.on most of these projects until they release, so unfortunately I cannot be specific about whom the clients are at this point.
Also, we just finished co-writing some material about XML integration with Flash MX in the upcoming release “Flash MX Magic”. As beta testers for Flash MX, we were able to really dig deep and come up with some clean approaches to integrating XML with MX at an early stage. In addition, we have a tutorial on interface design appearing in the Flash MX bible, and possibly a feature interview in the next edition of CreateOnline magazine.
Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?
Who is your target audience?
We're most known for our futuristic, edgy style so we tend to appeal to a younger crowd, but some of our clients see the benefit in using us to create something different and unique that pushes the boundaries of even the older target audiences.
In essence, however, we try to target everyone by finding a balance in whatever we construct.
What area of web design lacks the most?
This is sort of a vague question, but I'll give it my best shot. I think that the compatibility gap between the various browsers has every designer pulling their hair out. What works great in one browser doesn't even function on another, so you find yourself being limited by those restrictions and it can be so frustrating.
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
Flash has proved that it is a strong step up from the way the web used to be. It has evolved into something popularly accepted as the new standard. 90% of our clients are going either full-flash or hybrid combinations of Flash and HTML. I don't think Flash will be leaving us anytime soon.
What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?
I won't say that formal design education is a bad thing, because it helps people understand that there are reasons why certain things work in design and certain things don't. If someone is born with a natural ability to understand spatial relationships, etc without schooling, then the foundation is there for experimentation.
My father is an architect, and I think I inherited a lot of his understanding and proficiency. I was able to go off on my own and experiment, because I had the foundation of design already down. I think training might help some designers in terms of typography because it's difficult to learn on your own, unless you know the history of typography and how it works on a page.
When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?
We were lucky in the fact that when we first started out, new clients were actually seeking us out rather than the other way around. At that time, we were receiving well over 1,000 emails a week, and many of them were sales requests. Oddly, it was the market demand that started 2Advanced.
I think one factor that draws clients to us is the content of our website, because it's not filled with the typical marketing "buzz" words that get overused in new media. Also, our site itself is a little bit risky, and I think people are drawn to that rather than the usual corporate and bland approach.
A lot of our success also comes from word-of-mouth, many times from Creative Directors who have seen our work and pass along recommendations to their bosses and get us involved in their projects.
What is the most expensive thing you've bought in the last week?
My Kenneth Cole watch.
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
My very fist site was a showcase site I built when I was a freehand illustrator. It was a small gallery constructed to show some of my work I was doing for an online art group called iCE.
Fortunately it isn't up any more, as it was seriously lacking in form and functionality. This was back when I was making the transition to web design and it all took off from there.
Have you written any books?
I've written for "New Masters of Flash", "The Flash 5 Bible", and "Flash 5, Creative Web Animation", “Flash MX Magic”, as well as the upcoming "Flash MX Bible". 2advanced is planning on putting out a book soon based on divulging some of our techniques as well as showcasing some of our experimental projects, etc.
What was the toughest thing you ever did with Flash?
I would say Vulcan was the most difficult project I have ever worked on. It was my first venture into the world of Generator and we came up with an idea to build a dynamic timeline using Generator. I worked closely with our developers to figure out a way to string together multiple nested lists and have them strung together via x and y coordinates and scroll horizontally while delivering data.
It was a pretty tough task, but I learned a lot in the process. Unfortunately Vulcan recently changed the timeline using DHTML, which isn't quite as sexy. Such is life.
How have you learned so many Flash/design skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?
My passion for design has kept me learning, wanting to take things farther, to push myself and the technology. Without the love of the art, I wouldn't have gotten very far. Most of what I have learned comes from just experimenting with the software, tweaking and twisting it to get as much out of it as I can. I feel that formal design training is a waste of time. The best way to break the rules, is to never have learned them.
I've developed as a skilled flasher by learning the tools on my own, moving at my own pace and figuring it out on the fly. It allows you to get more comfortable with the tools and really learn them inside and out.
What type of overcoat do you wear when Flashing, basically are you a labels man?
I'm a sucker for DKNY.
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
Lately I have seen the industry fall pray to egos, jealousies, and competition.
I'd just like to say to all the designers out there that evolution as artists should be important to us all, rather than bickering and competing.
Most of us love what we do for a living, and we should be doing this for ourselves and our clients, not to impress or ridicule other designers.
It's been a privilege, Eric, thanks very much!
Thanks so much for having me, it's been a pleasure.