.

If we continue to compare what we’re doing now to how the web was ten years ago, there won’t be any room left for progression or originality.

  Please give us a brief bio of yourself.

Well, I am currently about to enter a transitional period in my career. I recently accepted a position at Fallon in Minneapolis to work in their interactive group and will be starting there in mid-March.

Up until now, I’ve been working as a designer at Periscope Interactive, also in Minneapolis, since the summer of 2000. I started there shortly after receiving my degree in Graphic Design from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. Last year, I co-founded Matter with associates and friends, Jesse Kaczmarek and T Scott Major.

  What do you do for inspiration?

Seeing other good work is inspiring to me. There’s so much great work that just floors me. To see other designers out there really breaking boundaries with their projects, whether it’s interactive, print, or broadcast, gives me a lot of enthusiasm and makes me want to do the same with my projects.

  Please list 3 of your favourite sites.

I routinely browse K10K, FWA, and Newstoday.

  What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?

At the risk of sounding like a jackass, I consider it a big achievement to be doing what I’m doing today. I’m 25 and recently married. I love being involved in the industry we are in. I’ve had great jobs that challenge me and give me the opportunities I need to push myself and succeed.

Even though I’ve worked very hard for this, I consider myself very fortunate. Professionally, my greatest achievement up to this point was having a project of mine (Arctic Cat Firecats) get into Communication Art’s Interactive Annual in 2002.

  What software couldn't you live without?

Photoshop, Illustrator, and Flash. I pretty much use those three programs for everything.

  What projects do you have in the pipeline?

I’m not quite sure what projects I’ll be involved in yet at Fallon. At Periscope, we just finished revamping the Arctic Cat Snowmobiles portion of the site, which will continue to be updated over a short period of time. We’re also going to be releasing a DVD with them for the first time which I had a hand in.

With Matter, the three of us have been tackling some larger scale productions that cover the interactive medium as well as print and identity. Those should launch on Matter design sometime this year, so stay tuned. I’ve never really done much personal work, but I’ve been working on a site called 32 Round, which will focus primarily on my portfolio of work over the last couple of years.

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

I’m always amazed at the work that Mike Cina and Mike Young are producing at We Work for Them. I think they’re probably doing the most unique and original design in our industry. Arnaud Mercier (Elixirstudio) has some extremely good work that I’ve always admired. And lastly, I think WDDG creates some really consistent, solid work. I haven’t followed them as much recently, but they were one of the first groups that got me excited about the interactive medium.

  What effect on traffic do your new designs have?

I’d say really good. I think people are naturally drawn to aesthetically pleasing sites, whether they are designers or not. We also put a lot of effort into creating relationships with the users by supplying plenty of engaging content that keeps drawing them back. Another aspect of the web that is a real benefit to site traffic is the viral nature in which users pass on URLs to friends and co-workers.

  Who is your target audience?

That varies based on what project I am working on. Each client I’ve worked with has it’s own unique audience. Sometimes we’ll have complete flexibility with our style, technology, and bandwidth, and other times we have to be more conservative. I think this allows us to approach each project with a fresh perspective and establish different processes.

  What area of web design lacks the most?

As we all know, the web is a great environment for experimentation and creative growth, so I’m not going to touch on “design” really. There are so many great ideas and styles being pushed online, but so few being executed well. So my answer would have to be attention to detail. There is nothing worse to me than a sloppily executed site. There’s a certain level of refinement that really separates a really well done site and a hacked together site.

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

I was young and still trying to find my niche, so I’ll just say it was interesting. Fortunately, it is not online anymore.

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

No, I haven’t. Even though I think it would be a great experience to produce a book, I wouldn’t consider it unless I was confident that I would have to time to devote to really do it right. Unfortunately, I just don’t think I have that kind of time right now.

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

My toughest challenge with Flash was simply learning the application. As a designer, I picked up Flash four years ago with no formal development background. I was fortunate enough to learn the program alongside a developer so I was able to pick up actionscripting with a development mindset and understand the logic and problem solving needed a lot quicker.

  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 personally graduated from a liberal arts college with a degree in Graphic Design, so it’s probably not fair for me to discuss design schools specifically. I think there are individuals in the world who are probably talented enough to find a design position without a college level of education, but I think that person would not benefit in the long run from that kind of decision.

From my perspective, if you are that talented, there’s no rush to make short cuts in that way. There’s a certain maturity level and so many skills outside of creative talent that a professional needs exercise on a daily basis.

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

A great portfolio doesn’t hurt. Nobody can argue with great work. Aside from that though, there’s a lot of strategy and planning involved in the business side of our industry that needs to expand above and beyond the creative arena. Success is more achievable if the client understands the “why” before the “what.”

  Do you think Flash is here to stay?

Yes, without a doubt. I do think, however, that in five years, Flash will become nothing like the Flash we know and use today. Everything changes so fast in this industry that it’s almost impossible to predict what will happen next.

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

I learned Flash in my free time because I wanted desperately to add motion to my design. One thing that was hard for me to learn that has become quite clear to me now is that Flash is nothing more than a tool. I think it’s important for anyone trying to learn the application that being proficient in Flash will not automatically make you a good designer.

I do think it helps you understand your boundaries (or lack of) when designing, but it’s no different than a pencil or a brush. Overall, I think it takes a very passionate, committed, and self-motivated person to hone their skills with both flash and design.

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

Even though I do a lot of programming, I’m still a designer and see myself as nothing else. I think it is important today for designers to have a certain level of knowledge in and appreciation for developing as well as developers having a reciprocal appreciation for design and its importance in communication. If you’re asking about clothes, I like clothes. It doesn’t hurt to look good.

  Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?

I think our industry needs to look ahead and stay focused at our possibilities rather than look behind and dwell on our past. There is a lot of discussion in our business about web design and proper usability and I think it is our job as designers to keep pushing the envelope both online and off, using multimedia to continually educate and entertain.

If we continue to compare what we’re doing now to how the web was ten years ago, there won’t be any room left for progression or originality.

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

Thank you, keep up the good work.


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