I was born and raised in Des Moines, Iowa. No, I did not live on a farm or ever milk any cows.
Please give us a brief bio of yourself.
I'm a 27-year old designer, co-owner and Creative Director of Long Beach, California based Visualade. I'm a graduate of Cal State Fullerton, with a BFA in Art and Graphic Design, and have been designing professionally since 1998.
Random fact #1: I was born and raised in Des Moines, Iowa. No, I did not live on a farm or ever milk any cows.
Visualade, (ade -pronounced like lemonade) was officially established in June 2001. From small, interactive flash sites to large-scale dynamically generated content and ecommerce back ends, Visualade creates uniquely fashionable and upscale design solutions for the fashion, beauty, and luxury retail industries.
What do you do for inspiration?
I hoard fashion and interior magazines and catalogues. I study the models, fashions and ads. I also surf the web and either shop online or just go shopping. It's been a long while since I've had the chance to do this, but I also hit the bookstores and galleries for inspiration, well, more so to rekindle the fire. That, and dust off my old art and design history books.
Please list 3 of your favourite sites.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
Living and working, 24-7-365, 18 hour days, side by side with my husband... Running a successful business... And staying sane all at the same time.
Random Fact #2: My partner in crime -and founding co-owner of Visualade- is my husband, Jesse Dean. Visualade's success is very much attributed to his behind the scenes hard work and mastery.
What software couldn't you live without?
I don't think I could do anything without Photoshop.
What projects do you have in the pipeline?
Right now we are working on a deal to redesign and redevelop an interactive kiosk system and website for another Los Angeles shopping plaza.
We are also just starting the redesign of a Los Angeles based modern furniture company website.
Then of course, always on the list is a redesign for our own site (so sadly ignored).
Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?
You know, I really don't know. There are so many I admire. And so many single artists and designers that I couldn't really narrow it down.
What effect on traffic do your new designs have?
We often do seasonal redesigns for our clients, so every time we redesign there is a big rush of traffic. I've only seen traffic decline once in our career. And that happened after following the wishes of the client into making a crazy (and crappy) flash website. So, in general, I'd have to say our designs have a positive influence on traffic.
Who is your target audience?
It varies per client. But really, I am the target audience. I am fortunate to have a niche of clients, which are of interest to me. 17-35 year old women. Fashionable and design oriented.
What was the toughest thing you ever did with Flash? Is it still online?
To date, I would say the Fall 2002 Charlotte Russe website, only because of how large and complex of a site it is. I wouldn't say it was too terribly technically challenging, but it was quite a time consumer getting everything functioning and looking smooth.
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
I designed a small website in '98 while still in school. It wasn't a web class, but one of the random projects was create a logo and a website. I did a crappy 5 page site for the (CSUF) Fullerton Arboretum. Created it in PageMill. Scary! It's not still online. It never really was.
Random Fact #3 - They didn't offer web or flash classes back then! At least at my school.
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
Yes. In some form or another.
What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?
Well, because I did go to university to study graphic design, I'm all for promoting it. I think design students these days could really benefit from the other courses offered through art programs. They help develop your right brain and refine supplementary skills.
But, I don't think a degree in Graphic Design is entirely necessary. Some people just have that talent and don't need to drop thousands of dollars on training.
When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?
Work Experience and Word of Mouth. Fortunately, for us we were able to inherit a list of clients from a company that was going out of business. The majority of the rest have all been referrals from our clients.
Luckily, we've never had to market or solicit ourselves for work. I think the work experience under our belt and our portfolio speaks for itself most of the time.
What is the most expensive thing you've bought in the last week?
Well, I just went on a $400 online shopping spree. Does that count? :S
Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?
I have not yet, but yes, I plan to. I'm considering working on a Flash book at the moment, but I may hold out for a more design related book in the future. I don't want to burn out on the book authoring yet. I did have a small contribution to Jessica Speigel's Flash MX Application Design and Development- buy the book (it's fabulous) and look in the ecommerce chapters.
What area of web design lacks the most?
Tough question. My default answer would be usability. But (maybe it's only me) I've seen a growing amount of sites in which usability is an important aspect.
How have you learned so many Flash/design skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?
I think the fundamentals I learned while getting my BFBut the rest, and everything they don't teach you in school, came from experience. I am always an advocate of learning design and art history.So my advice for n00bs is to pick an old master and study!
Oh! And keep an eye on what your peers are doing, but try not to dwell on it.
What type of overcoat do you wear when Flashing, basically are you a labels woman?
I am a labels woman. And I've got my eye on this Edward An overcoat... Hint hint.
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
I'll take a shot if it's on the house! But I don't drink that often.
It's been a privilege, Jenny, thanks very much.