.

My corporal form is that of a 5'9", 220 lb ex-collegiate football player, power-lifter and amateur bodybuilder and I am "physically" probably the strongest designer on the planet. Haha.

  Please give us a brief bio of yourself.

Shane Seminole Mielke - 29 years old, born and raised in Southern California, USMy daily routine consists of designing, eating, working out, spending time outside, listening to movies as background noise (mainly DUNE), listening to music (all genres), spending time with my wife and getting minimal amounts of sleep.

My corporal form is that of a 5'9", 220 lb ex-collegiate football player, power-lifter and amateur bodybuilder and I am "physically" probably the strongest designer on the planet. Haha.

Currently I am an Art Director at 2Advanced Studios

  What do you do for inspiration?

When working on projects, most of the time I just let my mind wander while I am at the gym working out, or when I am outside for my daily dose of sunshine. I get these flashes or visions of things that I end up integrating into either the design or the motion of a project.

Lately I've also been getting a heavy dose of inspiration from music. I've been listening to a lot of VAST & Dead Can Dance while I design. They both have this ambient surreal, tribal, mystical sound to them that just sort of haunts me and swirls around me when I'm designing.

  Please list 3 of your favorite sites.

FWA for my daily dose of inspiration, www.UltraShock.com for any technical help I might need, and www.Google.com for everything else.

  Do you think Flash is here to stay?

Flash is a great all around tool for presenting ideas in a variety of formats. Websites, Video Controls, Application Controls, Skins, Cartoons & Presentations. It can be used in so many formats and applications that I think it will remain useful for a long time to come. I think if they were to ever add some of the more powerful 3d capabilities found in Director, Flash could take over the world.

  What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?

On the professional side I would say my biggest achievement is being able to do something that I love every day and getting paid for it. That in itself is quite an accomplishment. I know many people who are completely unhappy with their lives and are in constant turmoil trying to find something they enjoy doing, let alone getting paid for it.

On a personal side there are too many events/achievements in the various aspects of my life to label one as the biggest. I would say meeting & marrying my wife Jolene, playing college football, every close friendship I have made.

  What projects do you have in the pipeline?

I just finished up working on www.spacex.com, www.pittsburghpenguins.com, www.xs-engineering.com, an intro for the new Ford GT concept car and a new "Genesis Project" scene for my personal site at www.pixelranger.com

Current projects include: A website for the worlds leading wireless semiconductor solutions provider for mobile communications, a handful of Internal 2Advanced Websites (including 2Av4), personal projects like my "Genesis Project".

Plus, a couple of collaborations between myself and friends like David Martin of Fantasy Interactive and the upcoming propod.com

  What effect on traffic do your new designs have?

The only major effect on traffic my designs have is when they are launched from a site like 2Advanced because of the worldwide following that 2A has. In that case it amounts to millions of additional hits to a site from people who aren't necessarily the target audience.

I think for the most part Traffic increases on any site after it is re-designed & launched, no matter who built it or what market your business is in.

In any Business arena customers/competitors are always visiting your client's website to find out more about that company. If the site is either unique or continually updated with fresh content/designs the repeat traffic will increase along with any new visitors.

Take for example the www.xs-engineering.com site I recently finished. Since launching the new site, their traffic has gone through the roof as well as traffic from that site to the 2advanced site.

There has also been a lot of interest by XS competitors to re-design their sites after seeing how XS raised the bar with their innovative website. In my close group of friends, at least 2 competitors of XS have contacted them asking them if they could re-design their sites similar to the XS site. I guess we have stirred the hornets nest so to speak in the Car tuning world. :)

  What software couldn't you live without?

Yahoo Instant Messenger. Keeps me connected to my family and friends during the 18+ hours a day I am on the Internet.

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

Too many good designers/companies out there to single any 3 out.

  Who is your target audience?

The target audience always changes from project to project. Sometimes the target audience for a client is a really focused group of individuals and it is easy to create designs catering to that specific group.

On the other hand, sometimes a client has a target audience so large and diverse that there is no pleasing all of the users. In cases like that you really must depend upon the feedback and advice of the client to make sure you are pleasing and reaching the people that they perceive as the most important.

  What area of web design lacks the most?

I think that some designers are really losing touch with the power of Photoshop, its capabilities, and the fact that it is the core program you use for every project. There is a perception (especially in the younger designers I get e-mails from) that in order to design a cool flash site, they should actually design in flash.

There is also a perception that for an effect to come out cool it had to be done with a special 3D program or plug-in. I get e-mails from new designers and developers all the time asking what programs I used to create the wireframes and images on my site when everything was simply done in PS and Flash.

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

My very first site was done about 6 years ago for the first company I worked for called CDI-WEB. The site was created with Photoshop 3.0 and HotMeTaL Pro 2.0. The site was Blue and White, had REALLY big buttons and lots of COOL drop shadows on the buttons. HAHAHA.

The REALLY cool feature on the site was that in the Netscape 3.0 version of the site, the buttons had Javascript rollovers (explorer 3.0 didn't support rollovers). I was pretty proud of that at the time.

Thank God it isn't online anymore, although I still have screenshots on a CD somewhere……

  Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?

No I haven't.

Honestly, I think it would be the greatest honor to have some sort of feature in a book, write an article, or even co-write an article with Eric Jordan or any of my other friends in the community. Heck I would be happy with one word or one pixel being printed.

I'm not sure how much I have to offer the seasoned veterans of the industry, but if someone approached me to do it I would jump at the chance for sure.

  What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?

Speaking from experience I definitely think you can get into the business without going to school. As with anything it depends upon experience, natural skills and your personal drive in life.

I have personally have only been a designer for 3-4 years. Before that I was always working with designers as an integrator doing HTML and backend coding. I got my feet wet in that manner building sites and learning about all of the limitations imposed on designs by the medium. In those 4 years as an integrator I saw and made a lot of mistakes when building and architecting sites.

I saw a lot of designers make poor decisions purely because they didn't want to change their design to fit a specific need. Those experiences paved the way for how I approach designing and building my sites now. Without some of those mistakes I am positive that my designs would definitely suffer from lack of vision and planning.

I have consistently found that my experience helps guide me in times where I cannot come up with a design until I find that spark of creativity that pushes me in the right direction.

A person's natural skills and inherent traits are a big factor too. As a designer my best asset is what I consider an eye for balance. I definitely do not come up with the craziest wackiest concepts out there. I do come up with ideas/designs that I consider balanced enough that it is hard to complain about them being poor or unorganised.

My biggest God given asset is my personal drive and the fact that I am a hard worker. That by far makes up for the fact that I am untrained as a designer. My combination of experience and hard work puts me on similar levels in some categories with people who went to school for years. It also helps that I have a viciously talented circle of friends who have helped mentor me over the years.

Do I think schools are a good thing? YES. I often wish I had the proper training in color theory and typography that others have. Do I think they are 100% necessary? No. In many ways I am happy with my open mind and untrained eye. I seem to have done quite well from simple experience, hard work and the support and mentoring of the people around me.

  When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?

Speaking for myself, the most effective way to get clients is from past work, friends and prior relationships. It has helped that I have a site that represents my skills well. In reality that is a small factor.

The truth of the matter is that the side projects I have been involved in have been the result of prior relationships with friends and former clients from previous employment. As far as my work at 2Advanced goes, the same holds true.

We currently have a multitude of projects we are working on that are the direct result of referrals from the management of previous projects. Situations where the people I interfaced with went out of their way to tell someone else (a friend, business associate) about us and how good of a job that myself or someone else on the 2A team did.

I know a lot of talented designers who struggle to get work simply because they do not have a network of relationships set up. As those relationships grow so does your business as long as you continue to hold yourself to a high standard.

  What is the most expensive thing you've bought in the last week?

I am about to purchase a HUGE BIGSCREEN TV. But that isn't till next week. This week the most expensive thing I purchased was a pair of fins for body boarding at the beach. $29.99 without tax.

  What was the toughest thing you ever did with Flash? How long did you spend on it?

The toughest thing I ever did was when I first started learning flash and went thru the growing pains of learning the program.

When I first started working for the company marchFIRST back in 1999, everyone thought I knew flash, but in reality I hadn't opened the program more than 2x.

My good friend, Ricardo Luevanos and I were tasked with designing comps and putting together a presentation in flash that was being pitched to Toyota/Lexus to take over their website development.

It was my first official "Flash Boot Camp" and there were a lot of sleepless nights spent finishing that project mainly because I was learning the application on the run and asking Rick a healthy dose of questions.

I think it took us approximately two weeks to churn out comps and then create the 2 different presentations with all of the comps that were done by us and the other offices.

Funnily enough, I think I even used 12fps in that project. :)

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

I think "design" skills come from hours of experimenting with your ideas, re-creating styles that might influence you, observing trends in art, and just building as many sites as you can and learning from your mistakes with each site.

Most of the design process happens in Photoshop with Flash just being the tool that brings those design elements to life.

In my mind I have always likened design to learning to play a guitar. At first you learn the basic chords and by playing songs you know. Then eventually you learn to take those chords and techniques you learned and start making your own music and style.

Learning "techniques" for flash comes from being observant of how others are pushing its limits, practicing existing techniques which have already been established and experimenting on your own ideas/techniques.

I really started learning flash techniques when I would work on projects that required extremely tight deadlines with ungodly amounts of work (Flash Boot Camps). Projects falling into "Boot Camp" status do not allow you the luxury of attempting new techniques, but rather really force you to hone your "processes" of executing different techniques you already are familiar with in a shorter time frame.

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

I am about as far from a labels man as you can get. Basically I am a Jock with Brains. Having said that, I go for the most comfortable clothes I can get away with. Shorts and T-shirts are the norm, but if I REALLY want to dress up then I go for jeans and something from Old Navy.

  Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?

Every day is a Saturday

  It's been a privilege, Shane, thanks very much.

Thanks for honoring me with an interview.


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