As good as Flash and Director are for sound, they still don't give creative people enough control to push ideas to their limit.
Please give us a brief bio of yourself.
I’m a freelance Flash Designer and Animator.
After graduating with a degree in New Media Production, over the last couple of years I’ve worked for Colony Media and AKQ
I decided the freedom of freelance life was for me and starting that in mid-2004.
It’s been good to me so far, recent work has been for the Ministry of Sound and there’s animation work on the go for MTV.
What do you do for inspiration?
Nothing, and I think that’s probably for the best.
I don’t go specifically looking for inspiration anywhere – I find it much more productive to switch off from thinking about work and then everything around me gives me the inspiration.
Please list your favourite sites.
JCB Song – a gorgeous animation and nice site, thoughtful and appropriate to the very sweet song which it accompanies.
Newstoday – a nice forum of work, new jobs, and there are always designers online arguing about anything from politics to where to meet up for a drink.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
I’m proud of my Flash piece ‘A Break in the Road’, where you play a musician creating your own unique tune.
It was a piece created for the love of it and to try something new, and when I launched it on the web it just took off.
It won a few awards which was great, but the best thing was that a few people who I’ve met recently said it was their inspiration, and I’m pleased it proved that not every project has to be focus grouped or tried and tested, and it’s possible to create popular games which allow people to be creative.
Hopefully we might see similar things possible on consoles soon.
What software couldn't you live without?
Flash. Not only has it made animation quick and easy, but it’s allowed it to be coupled with programming and then made it possible to get all that onto the web so you have an immediate audience.
What projects do you have in the pipeline?
There’s a project just starting for MTV USA which is pretty exciting, and which had never previously got off the ground because, like Break in the Road, it was something I’d wanted to do for the love of it, but I couldn’t fund it up until now.
Again, it combines allowing creative use of music with a narrative and animation (sprinkled with a love of inventive machinery), and it should be ready for prying eyes in early February 2006.
Who do you rate as being the top design companies?
Specialmoves. I’ve seen them do some crazy technical stuff, and what’s more it’s always got a great creative drive behind it.
Hi-ReS! One of the few large companies I know who have made sure creativity and new ideas are intrinsic to their success.
What effect on traffic do your new designs have?
You’ll have to ask the clients for the statistics! I don’t know the precise numbers, but the clients seem to come back so I presume something’s going right.
Who is your target audience?
If it’s an audience the client wants to target, it’s possible to hone the project to them, but the work I’m most proud of is that which seems to cut across specific demographics and appeal to many of them at once.
In such cases I think it’s because it’s a clear and strong idea, rather than a style bolted on to please a certain audience.
What area of web design lacks the most?
This is a purely subjective view, but I think it’s audio design.
Not only is it often the last element that’s dropped into a project, and therefore the least considered and most clumsily done, but the tools we’re given to do it are far from powerful enough.
As good as Flash and Director are for sound, they still don’t give creative people enough control to push ideas to their limit.
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
Eek, I think it was a tiny project thing for UCAS Clearing in 2003. It had only two pages, and so would be scarcely worth a click even if it was still online, which, I’m relieved to say, it isn’t.
Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?
If you mean technical books, then no, not yet. If you’re talking about other kinds of books, then it’s definitely the plan at some point.
A lot of my work has a narrative to it, and I’d hope that one day they may work their way onto a page somehow.
What was the toughest thing you ever did with Flash? How long did you spend on it? Is it still online?
Again, Break in the Road was the toughest, I may have been a bit nuts to start it but it paid off.
More recently an XML-based application I worked on for Toyota gave me a few headaches, but I worked with a Russian coder who would routinely step in, say ‘Don’t worry, I do this’, and saved the day.
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
I think it offers so much space for creativity in design and animation that it’s bound to stay in some form.
It might become less used for straightforward web-design (we’ve all seen sites with too much Flash) but it’s got so much more potential and I hope it stays around and grows along with the creative demands of designers.
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 think, even if you don’t get that much tuition at college, it’s still the best time to actually find out what you want to do and learn the stuff, whilst supporting yourself with a student loan.
You may be a genius and try to learn it at home in your spare time, but it could make it a lot harder and you’ll have fewer people to talk about ideas with.
When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?
I’ve been meaning to put together some promotional materials, maybe print mailouts or viral games, but it always turns out I’d likely be doing that more for the sake of something creative than it being of any use, and a link to my site is the most direct way.
How have you learned so many Flash/design skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?
I’ve just stuck with it and picked stuff up.
It doesn’t matter if at first your code is messy, if the idea’s good and it works that’s what people care about.
What is the most expensive thing you've bought in the last week?
A shiny new PC. I switched from Macs when I discovered PCs were so much faster for Flash work, and until Macs catch up, much to the annoyance of some design friends, I’m sticking with them.
What type of overcoat do you wear when Flashing, basically are you a labels man?
Being freelance of course, there’s always the danger I’ll start getting my fashion tips from daytime television and clothing catalogues, but so far I’ve resisted the urge.
Any parting shots of words of wisdom?
Clothing catalogue companies do very good money back guarantees.