I remember one nice chap at a show asking us "how do YOU guys make ANY money? You must have day jobs?". Well, no, believe it or not we get paid.
Please give us a brief bio of yourself.
Martin: I am from Manchester England, when I was 16 I went to Art school and would try to dress like Morrissey. I thought it would impress girls, how ironic.
I dropped out of Art School and did nothing for a long time, then I went to a Macromedia Flash presentation in SF with my brother. It was Flash 2 I think, primitive 0bjects were flashing around the screen and changing colour, I thought.. I’m having a bit of THAT action.
I then worked away at it for many years until I met Jordan online and together we formed WEFAIL.
Jordan: Nothing much to say other than that I am roughly 15 years younger than Martin and yet I too spent some of my youth listening to Morrissey and The Smiths.
Martin: That makes me 53 years old? Sweet Jesus, where did it all go? I’m older than Morrissey now?
What do you do for inspiration?
Martin: Nothing, I probably think of stuff for our sites while sat on the toilet, or driving, or worse still..when I’m trying to sleep, my head will suddenly go into overdrive and I’ll be thinking of all kinds of crap to add to a site, my head hates me.
I never really think of anything while working, it’s too hard to work and think of stuff at the same time. I listen to a lot of music while I work, so music.
Jordan: Making each other laugh.
Please list 3 of your favourite sites.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
Martin: Eminem.com not sure what’s big about it, but it sounds pretty good.
I think when we first started making sites people kind of thought we were too comical to get anywhere.
I remember one nice chap at a show asking us “how do YOU guys make ANY money? You must have day jobs?”. Well, no, believe it or not we get paid.
Jordan: Making a living without resorting to cranking out product (yet). Smiths and Morrissey references in the Eminem site.
What software couldn't you live without?
Martin: Photoshop and Flash.
What projects do you have in the pipeline?
Martin: We just finished the Eminem site, that was a top secret job. So we couldn’t of even mentioned that one.
We have another site lined up now, but again..we cannot talk about it, it’s sensitive.
Jordan: Yeah this next one will either be Exile On Main Street or Goats Head Soup.
Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?
Martin: Oh..you mean OTHER people? I don’t know, it’d probably be some designers that have been around a few years, ohhh..I thought of some… Michael C Place + Build, Neasden Control Centre, anywhere Peter Saville works.
Jordan: I don’t like to look at the internet but I like anything with personality.
What effect on traffic do your new designs have?
Martin: WEFAIL sites STOP traffic!!!
I suppose with a site like Eminem, our name doesn’t touch the sides..his site attracts so many hits you could’ve put a blank page up there and it’d still get huge amount of traffic (for a second), but I hope our new Eminem site will entertain more than the usual HTML style musician sites.
And something you can never do with, say Nike or Coca-Cola (or Eminem)… So I hope we get to keep it real now and then with people who deserve but cannot possibly afford it.
I’ve always told Martin my endgame is not making sites for goddamned nike.
Who is your target audience?
Martin: Anyone, we’re not elitists.
Jordan: Not other designers.
What area of web design lacks the most?
Martin: I don’t know, neither of us really look at other flash sites (apart from the terrific new FWA of course).
I’d say the ‘substance’ part of it. We have decades of contemporary graphic design to rape and pillage and drag into flash, but 90% of us are making crappy pixel perfect, shadowed, bevelled nonsense… which keeps us, the other 10% in a job…so thanks!
Jordan: Personality… humor… F-bombs.
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
Martin: It was a mate who had a little clothes business, he was a mod..so it looked like Quadrophenia, with all kind of mod paraphernalia in it..it was set at 12FPS and flashed and blinked. It was rubbish.
Jordan: Here’s my first site: www.walkingincircles.com
For better or worse it gets more traffic than anything else I’ve ever done.
Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?
Martin: NO but YES! We would like to write a book I think, it would be about life..not so much about Flash and websites, more self absorbed ..like a blog about both of us..it would be superb!!!!
We will make it at somepoint.
Jordan: I wrote a chapter in a Friend’s of Ed book. That was years ago. My bio was a triumph, even more so when I got a copy of the book and everyone else had really dry, serious biographies.
What was the toughest thing you ever did with Flash? How long did you spend on it? Is it still online?
Martin: God, probably my sketchbook..because it’s never made it online, it’s still a work in progress from 2 years ago..
It’s pretty boring so I never tried to finish it..it’s sat on a shelf. No one wants to see my self indulgent sketchbook so I’ll save the internet from it.
Jordan: I guess walkingincircles. It was a great way to learn how to “think” through problems. I did not know what a variable was when I created it. There are no variables in that site. (Information is all held using movieclips)…
But I guess the most difficult thing I’ve done in this modern era is not yet online. It was the last project I did solo at amplifier.
Hopefully it will breathe in a month or two. It’s for a place in town that makes commercials and documentaries.
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
Martin: It’ll be here in one form or another I’m sure. Hopefully not as an embedded PDF.
Jordan: Sure. I hope so. But if it’s not it means something better has killed it that people must reckon they can pick up fairly easily after flash.
It wouldn’t die with no alternative. And imagine the angry, nerdish uproar if it did. Nerds blogging! Nerds bitching on forums! Nerds marching in the streets!
What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?
Martin: I’m probably the worse person on earth to ask about design/graphic school. I dropped out of art school as it seemed pointless and a waste of time.
Then some years later I dropped out of a Graphic Degree course because again, it seemed a little pointless and a waste of time.
I think if an individual’s talented enough, they’ll make themselves successful without all the BS of degree courses and theology.
All that stuff means nothing for a web designer, ultimately you put your work online, people come see it and that’s how you make it or you don’t. Which is much fairer than relying on some bullshit degree to get you through the door.
Jordan too dropped out of all that crap, we’re loners.
Jordan: Dropped out! Hahahaha… No I graduated high school and then worked a series of normal working man jobs (my favorite being dry clean van driver which had real blue collar appeal).
I just got lucky and learned flash and was kind of good at it. As for school… I mean go to college for the vacation from responsibility and getting so drunk that you literally cannot see… but surely a degree must be worthless in the field of web design?
All that matters is your work. I guess it all depends if you’re planning on being in the technical field (with all the nerds) or in the creative field (with all the worse nerds, because they don’t think they’re nerds)…
When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?
Martin: Making cheap work! I think you have to take some shit when starting out, make super cheap sites..and make them as best you can.
Then if they spread around the community, other clients will eventually see your work and hire you..then you knock your prices up.
Jordan: It is terrible. I would say “Never do cheap work” but in the beginning you have to. No one is going to pay you 200K “to have a first go” at something.
How have you learned so many Flash/design skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?
Martin: Jordan’s Hard Drive ..I stole it.
Apart from that, online tutorials I guess for some older flash…...for Graphic design, nothing on computer…computer design is ingesting its own bottom and kind of squeezing its own head out of its mouth?
So I like to look at old print design.
Jordan: I think the fun thing is that there isn’t a right or a wrong way to solve problems. I am sure flash code nerds would laugh at the way I tape the sites together… but no one else on the other end of the monitor cares how elegant the code is. As long as it runs okay.
What is the most expensive thing you've bought in the last week?
Martin: I’ve been good over the past couple of weeks..no spending..but before that I bought my wife a mini cooper.
So that was a nice thing to do. I hadn’t cheated on her..I was just being nice.
Jordan: A pair of new, faster jet skis.
What type of overcoat do you wear when Flashing, basically are you a labels man?
Martin: It’s December so you can usually find me kicking the flashness in a thermal long john top and pyjama bottoms.
I don’t leave the house much. I think Jordan goes for boxer shorts and a wefail tshirt, but he’s in Texas, its a much warmer climate than England.
Jordan: Definitely not a labels man.
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
Martin: Don’t do it kids, being all EMO and having attitude, telling people (that will listen) that you’re a designer and wearing a white belt IS NOT COOL.
Jordan: Body build, but do it naturally.
It's been a privilege, thanks very much.
Martin: Thank you kindly FWA.