I've developed a rule of thumb, if just one(!) project really grabs my attention the applicant is worth meeting. But this HAS to be one kick-ass project.

  Please give us a brief bio of yourself.

I was born in 1968 in Moscow, CCCP. My dad is an artist and furniture designer, my mom is an illustrator. You can say I was immersed in the atmosphere of art and design since I was little.

I studied graphic design in the Stroganoff Institute, graduated with honors in 1991. Moved to the States shortly thereafter, worked for a few years at 2 design shops in Chicago.

Finally, in 1997 moved to New York City to spearhead the creative at Firstborn, where I am a partner and creative director.

I've worked on hundreds of interactive projects, the majority of which you can check out at www.firstbornmultimedia.com.

  What do you do for inspiration?

Since it's a written interview I can give this question some thought. I usually don't find inspiration for my Web work on the Web. I live in New York and there's plenty of stuff to look at and be inspired by.

I like going to small art shows and reading design magazines. You never know what would trigger your imagination. Lately I find a lot of creative inspiration in avant-garde cinema.

Quick tip: you can catch some inspiration the next day if you give yourself plenty of sleep (8+ hours works best for me).

  Please list 3 of your favourite sites.

www.yugop.com - still the best flash site in the world, www.brandsoftheworld.com - the biggest database of vector logos and www.conclave.ru - for original thinking

  What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?

Building a great company along with my partner, Michael Ferdman. We've been in business for more than 8 years and weathered a lot of storms together. A lot of creative and business achievements along the way.

  What software couldn't you live without?


  What projects do you have in the pipeline?

Two big ones, they are practically done. Check our website for updates, we usually announce our biggest projects with a news article. They'll probably launch by the time this interview comes out.

Also one interesting viral piece for a major movie/fast food chain coming out in the end of May

(chained by NDA, sorry for being cryptic).

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

I would give Hi-Res! In London the first place for creativity, second would go to R/GA for the scale of their effort, the third will go to group94 for their uncompromising consistency of execution.

  What effect on traffic do your new designs have?

Sometimes we notice a few spikes in traffic (we actually have a real-time visitor counter in the bottom right corner of the site) after we launch something big, but recently we get most hits after posting job openings on design portals like FW

In this connection, I am glad to use this opportunity to announce (yet again) that we're looking for talented designers, coders and producers in New York and, in the near future, for our LA office. All details can be found at www.firstbornmultimedia.com

  Who is your target audience?

Anyone with a computer.

  What area of web design lacks the most?

"User experience". By that broad term I mostly mean turning a "visit" into "experience", engaging the user one way or another.

We, as designers, are responsible for inventing new ways to interact with our audience. The future of information, advertising and entertainment belongs to this medium (in a more evolved form).

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

Here it is, circa 1997. See it and weep.

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

I've written a lot of interviews and articles over the years, as far as the book goes, I've written a chapter in New Masters of Flash 2002 Annual entitled "Slide".:

Read the PDF version here.

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

Before 2000 I used to design and program most of the sites that came out of our shop. Today, we are a company of 20 and I no longer do the Flash work. I still do a lot of art direction and design myself.

The KPF architecture portfolio site was probably the most challenging Flash-wise, I just know it from the amount of complaints that I got from our Flash team.

  Do you think Flash is here to stay?

In light of the recent acquisition of Macromedia by Adobe, I think that Flash should be somehow crossed with AfterEffects to create a new-generation broadband authoring tool.

Television is transitioning into many interactive delivery methods from On-demand to DVR-based offerings; a tool that can do both video manipulation and hard-core scripting will come in handy.

  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 know a few positive examples of that. Overall though, unless you're a child prodigy, you can't get around an old-school education to be successful in design, be that interactive or traditional graphic design.

This question opens a whole new discussion. With the abundance of computers and professional-grade software to become a "designer" is no longer a scholastic goal. Many skip the step entirely and what we see is an ocean of half-baked ideas populating really crappy sites.

For a design company like Firstborn it's an enormous challenge. We interview people on a daily basis, and it's never easy to tell who's right for the job.

I've developed a rule of thumb, if just one(!) project really grabs my attention the applicant is worth meeting. But this HAS to be one kick-ass project.

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

The first thing we did in 1997, even before we opened our doors, was a CD-Rom that was designed to lure in potential business. It was a conceptual piece that explored the theme of communication in today's world.

It was build around the tree metaphor, and the user who visited all the branches was given a chance to win a free t-shirt in a fake scratch-off game. We found this to be a pretty effective sales tool. It’s online here.

Then followed the website, our first printed portfolio book, we hired a full-time sales guy and it all snowballed from there.

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

My transition from graphic to interactive design began when I was introduced to Macromedia Authorware, an interesting (and nowadays exotic) multimedia tool.

I've learned my abc’s of programming (like functions and variables) creating my first interactive pieces in Authorware. I also learned an array of graphic softwares, from 3dStudio to Photoshop.

But as I mentioned before, all this technical prowess wouldn't have mattered if I didn't study for 5 years in the Art college and paint since I was 7.

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

Shelled out $400 for a new point-and-shoot.

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

The only fashion statement I make is by wearing really bright socks with otherwise predominantly black outfit.

  Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?

Phew. just when I thought I already spilled all my beans. Ok, here's one. The best site is yet to be designed. I hope this small thought will give the reader some inspiration.

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