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I've been doing websites for almost as long as browsers have been in existence. I started way way back during the days of Netscape1 and pre-14.4 modems. I even invented the first form of web animation before gif animations.

  Please give us a brief bio of yourself.

My background is in fine arts. Everything I do to this day in web design was self taught.

I've been doing websites for almost as long as browsers have been in existence. I started way way back during the days of Netscape1 and pre-14.4 modems. I even invented the first form of web animation before gif animations.

In those early days, I could see the potential of the web and loved the immediacy of its reach. A lot of interactive design in those days was CD-ROMs but I preferred the potential of what websites could become.

Design came naturally but I'm no code monkey. I set out to teach myself as much as I could, learning programming and writing code from scratch just so I could do it all. I now have my own company Hybrid Studio, doing entertainment sites for movie studios.

I also started another company called Xtreme Desktops after inventing the technology with my buddy Dimitry who owns Moviebanners.com.

With these 3 companies, we're a complete online marketing creative force. We are always busy thanks to the faith of great clients such as 20th Century Fox. If not for the opportunity Liz at FOX gave me, I would not be in the position I am today.

I've been blessed to work with amazing clients like Duncan, Charlie, Bettina, Matt, Damian. After 4 years, Hybrid Studio has been busy since day one when it was just me. I've kept a low profile for Hybrid mostly because I didn't want to grow too fast. The company grows only when I have the best talent to add to my existing team and I can make sure that quality does not suffer.

  What do you do for inspiration?

I look to other design disciplines for inspiration. I've always been very inspired by amazing comic book artists. I love true craftsmanship and true artistry.

Hot Rods, custom choppers are a true art form that constantly amazes me. I love great architecture and interior design.

Whenever possible, I try to surround myself with excellence. This could be a great athletic shoe, an amazing restaurant, brilliant lines on a car, amazing architecture. These well designed things that evoke an emotion is what I'm referring to. Surround yourself with excellence and it will influence you to achieve excellence in your own work.

I think FWA is also a great source for inspiration and seeing what other creatives are doing with this medium.

  Please list 3 of your favourite sites.

I really don't have favourite sites. I enjoy seeing progressive work. So, if there was a list, it always changes.

  What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?

My biggest achievement is starting my own company and developing an amazing team. The team consists of core members and satellite artists that I merge together to tackle the work.

I'm careful to bring the right team together depending on the project. Morgan, Ron, Steven, Eko, CB, Boz, Jake, Miles, Dimitry, Armando, Brian, Jami, Wesly, Floris. These guys help bring the vision to reality. Individually they're all really talented, but collectively we can do anything.

Putting a great team together to realize these visions is my biggest achievement. It is the foundation of the Hybrid concept. Merging amazing talents together to collaborate, focus, and create. With our collective talents, we take great pride in pushing the boundaries of what a web site experience can be.

I am most proud of our ability to invent new techniques and bring forth never-before-seen effects that really maximize impact.

I don't think you find superstar designers just looking to be discovered... you have to develop them. And I do my best to give hungry designers the opportunities I would have liked when I was starting out. So, all of you reading this that are real good designers with a terrific attitude, give me a shout.

  What software couldn't you live without?

Photoshop, Flash are at the top of the list. IM and email are used 24/7.

  What projects do you have in the pipeline?

We've just finished up Fantastic Four. We'll be starting X3. We have a host of DVD titles to work on. We have some great projects for Xtreme Desktops for video game clients, movie studios, VAIO kiosk, etc.

We are incredibly busy all the time.

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

Apple. Everything they make from hardware to software is so elegantly simple. To make something that simple and intuitive is really really hard to do.

They make products you crave. Look at the IPOD. It went beyond cool, it actually revolutionized. That's design at the highest level.

Foose Design is the best of the best. Chip Foose is the Michaelangelo of automotive design. He put a team together and built a 100% original vehicle from scratch. He redefined the highest level of the craft. That's design prowess.

I view Nike as a design company more so than an athletic shoe company.

Their amazing product design and command of marketing consistently influences pop culture.

  What effect on traffic do your new designs have?

Our designs impact traffic by bringing a huge wow factor. The sites we work on are naturally high profile movie sites. But we do our best to design a site that people remember.

Generally, on every major project, we try and do something that's never been done before on web sites. In the past we've really brought video as an integrated design feature to sites in a major way.

We pioneered methods of stealth loading to optimize the user experience. We're the first to attempt and effectively achieve true interactive TV broadcast graphics on the web.

Our philosophy is that by giving people something so new and inventive, it hopefully inspires repeat visits and better yet, they tell their friends to check it out.

  Who is your target audience?

Whatever the desired demographic, is what we design for. So, in essence we remain flexible based on each project.

  What area of web design lacks the most?

I see a lot of copycat design on the web. I don't like to see cookie cutter type of sites. A lot of website design shops are really good with one style and all their sites have that similar wrapping.

What lacks the most is originality. It’s about bringing out the essence of the subject... not imposing a slick style onto it.

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

My first site of significance was my own portfolio when I set out to find a design job in the entertainment industry. Flash wasn't yet available at the time.

With the limits back then, the site still had a lot of motion and sound utilizing javascripts and an old macromedia sound format. It worked though, because that site was very well received by all those that saw it and it did help me make some contacts and get a job.

I'll always be grateful to Jimmy of Troon for giving me a job.

The portfolio site is no longer online.

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

I've not written any books. Perhaps when I retire, I might. But it would probably not be about design. My pet peeve is people who do not have common sense. Maybe I'll write a book on how to develop common sense.

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

One of the toughest flash projects I tackled was DontSayAWord.com.

It involved building these experienced based interactive puzzles that would intrigue and give some back-story to the movie. So there was a lot to try and figure out with physics, mathematical formulas and actionscripting.

I spent a month developing it, scoured the net, finding examples of this and that, stripping things, piecing things together, experimenting, coding it all. It's still online.

  Do you think Flash is here to stay?

Flash is here to stay. The penetration rate is amazing. Broadband is taking over. General users have now come to expect a rich multimedia experience, so there's no going backwards. It’s going to be on new phones. Flash 8 is outstanding in the gains it’s made.

  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'm 100% self taught. I feel it’s more important to have desire and the willingness to work hard than it is to have a formal design education.

Hard work is a great equalizer. I've seen design school breed a lot of ignorant primadonna designers unaware of how the working world is like.

If you've got the design eye and creative juice, you'll learn these tools pretty fast just like someone who has a musical gift can pick up an instrument and start playing without lessons.

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

Go overboard. Do more than any other design firm would do. Show the client your hunger to outperform everyone else. Do free work just to prove yourself and get into the door if you have to.

I truly believe that you can be successful if you are willing to do what others will not. Not everyone is willing to stay up all night or work the weekend.

When you over perform, that usually leads to more work. You want to begin to build relationships as much as you can. Quality will always resonate and become great word of mouth and repeat clients.

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

You have to make a conscious effort to keep your skills sharp. And take time to learn and play with new techniques and absorb as much as you can.

Challenge yourself to learn more actionscripting. Challenge yourself to design in a style unfamiliar to you. Don't be a one dimensional designer.

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

Great Wine. Lots of great wine.

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

I wear T-shirts mostly when I work. I'm down with Giant Robot.

  Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?

Love what you do. Do what you love. Live your life with passion.

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

I'm very happy to contribute to FWA’s one of the only awards I will submit my work to because it’s not tied in to some political judging system. I'm always very honored to have our work selected by FWA.


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