It’s harder to launch a rocket without a formal education in physics, than it is to create a graphic without a formal education in design.
Please give us a brief bio of yourself.
Danny Franzreb, I'm 23 years old and currently doing my own thing as a developer at TAOBOT. This means that I'm collaborating with people around the world on different projects like application development, writing and experimental work. Lot's of people think that TAOBOT consists of a huge team, but at the moment it's just me and sometimes some friends/colleagues for larger projects.
What do you do for inspiration?
Basically trying to be open minded. I don't have any special way to nurture ideas, but if you have the right attitude anything can inspire you, that's wonderful.
Please list 3 of your favourite sites.
However, I tend not to surf those sites too much for inspiration, because I don't want to be influenced by them.
What software couldn't you live without?
I know I should say Flash because I'm doing a lot of Flash related work and really loving it.
I believe that it's not a special software, which defines my work or life. Basically, I could live without any software.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
That's a bit hard to explain, but understanding that I'm not important and not taking myself too seriously helps me to be more confident and creative, because it breaks down some borders in my mind.
At the moment I'm driven only by loving what I do, no pressure and I'm even more restless than I was. It doesn't matter if someone doesn't get my point here. I don't want to talk about that too long because it took me years to understand parts of myself, so I won't bother your audience with trying to understand me within five minutes.
What projects do you have in the pipeline?
A few weeks ago I was pretty busy finishing two books, preparing for conferences and developing applications at the same time. So I am planning to do some more experimental work in the next few months, to gain new ideas/skills and play around a little bit more again.
At the moment amongst other projects, I'm working on the German website for Smirnoff and doing experimental stuff with Quinn Supplee from Mediatemple, which are both very exciting.
Oh, and I'm looking forward to curate the first German BD4D next week.
Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?
I can't rate something like this, every time I surf the web I find new sites and companies that impress me in so many different ways.
Thinking that there is something like the top 3 design companies or the best web designers of the world is just so ridiculous.
Who is your target audience?
If I do something commercial it depends on the project and the client.
My personal stuff is for anyone who is interested in what I do and takes some time to have a look at it.
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
A few years ago when I started to play around with the web, I did a website for a German brewery, basically to get some beer and money from them. At that time it was a good html-website, but now I would kick my ass for it. No, thank god, it isn't online any more.
Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?
I never thought I would be a writer, yet I've already contributed to three books! Two of them were for a German publisher called Galileo Press, where I wrote about professional Flash development and ActionScripting.
The third was for Friends of ED and is called Fresh Flash, where they gave me the freedom to do whatever I wanted with Flash MX, which was just great.
I might do some more writing work and I've had a few offers, but at the moment I'm choosing very carefully whether to do another writing project and what I'm contributing to it.
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
Yes, and hasn't it been around for a while already? There have been so many discussions about this, so I won't discuss this now in detail.
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 have never been to a design school myself, but talked at a few. So I got the chance to meet students and get information about their education.
Studying informatics and economy at university, my background is a little different. I got into art and design by drawing, skateboarding and graffiti. My father, who worked at IBM for thirty years, introduced me to computers at the age of four, so I kind of grew up with it.
I loved to draw and later combined that with the computer. Personally I felt that I needed more education in the field of economy than in design, because I love to design and economy felt more like something that someone had to teach me in order to force me to learn it.
Since I got into that field without educational experience in a school environment I believe that this is totally possible, but you¹ll need lots of passion to make it that way. Plus, because you don’t get all the contacts that you get at design school.
Design school in my point of view will help lots of people to define their own style and figure out what they want to do if they don’t already know. It’s also solid education and you can always learn new things. Though I guess it’s harder to launch a rocket without a formal education in physics, than it is to create a graphic without a formal education in design.
When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?
I got most of my clients out of personal contacts and recommendations. Being in magazines or in local newspapers also got me some work and talking at design schools or conferences helps too. But the by far most effective method is creating quality work and keeping a healthy relationship with clients and your partners/friends.
What is the most expensive thing you've bought in the last week?
A black coat designed by Zero Clothing. You should have asked me a few weeks ago when my old car crashed and I had to get a new one.
What was the toughest thing you ever did with Flash?
Some people regarded TAOBOT as being pretty tough, but I did a few Flash projects that were pretty much on the same level or above and I'm always looking for something that challenges me.
I also did some applications in Java, which were a lot harder for me and if I look at the things friends of mine do in C++ or OpenGL, I don't regard Flash as being so difficult at all.
How have you learned so many Flash and can you offer any advice for newbies?
I just love to play around with Flash and other tools. So naturally you learn to push the limits of the tools if you use them and have fun with them for a while. Regarding learning I would say that you get more inspiration at conferences and more knowledge from books.
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
Try to really love what you do and don't do it for money or for getting your name out there, that won't satisfy you or at least it doesn't satisfy me. It may sound obvious, but having the opportunity to do something that you like and being a little confident with that is a privilege.