The simplest things can take a long time though. You promise the client a little thing, and then you think about it and go "shite – that'll take ages".
Please give us a brief bio of yourself.
My name’s Donnie Kerrigan, I’m 34 years old and run Chunk, a digital marketing and design company in Glasgow, Scotland.
I started out wanting to be an illustrator, then Flash rekindled a childhood interest in programming (well, getting extra men and changing the graphics on Commodore 64 games) and I started developing websites and games.
Now I’m interested in coming up with ideas that get our clients noticed (a bit sad, but true).
What do you do for inspiration?
I like the style of Nintendo games – the gameplay, colours and sounds are all nice, bright, upbeat and happy.
And I like children’s books because the concepts tend to be over-the-top and interesting. I don’t spend time studying them, but I might play a game to get me in the right frame of mind for a job or to get an idea for a nice playful menu or something.
Looking at the internet (and the sites on FWA) is inspirational enough though. There are loads of good sites and it makes you work harder to be as good.
Please list 3 of your favourite sites.
My favourite site is the BBC website. It’s got news, sport (well, football for me), radio, games, the lot. The rest of the world’s lucky to get to use it without having to pay the license fee.
If you’re talking about design, branding, originality and all that stuff, I don’t really have all-time favourites.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
I’ve proved to myself that I’m quite a determined character by running a business for the last 5 years.
You think you know everything, then you realise you don’t and have to relearn and rethink, and I enjoy all that.
What software couldn't you live without?
Nothing really. If a daily essential like Outlook disappeared I’m sure something else would take its place; and the way Flash has developed I’m sure it would be fairly easy to jump from Actionscript 2 or 3 to another language.
What projects do you have in the pipeline?
We’re developing a game which will have some nice 3D illustration; a comic book style site to show off videos of a client’s new product; and we’re working on online and mobile ‘viral strategies’ to promote a series of events during 2006 (hopefully!).
Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?
I don’t really have a top 3 in terms of design, but I have companies who’s work usually makes me take a second look or puts a smile on my face.
As I said before, I like Nintendo for always being upbeat and happy; Preloaded’s work looks like it does the job for their clients and they don’t seem to take themselves too seriously.
Lastly I like Aardman Animations who’s work looks like they’ve made it for themselves when the pressure must be on to make a ton of money.
What effect on traffic do your new designs have?
In terms of traffic it’s probably less important than other areas. Obviously a campaign with a good idea and bad design stands a better chance than one with a bad idea and good design.
Seeding is more important in getting a campaign kick-started and the concept has to be good to get people interested and spreading the word around. But obviously it’s better if the design is as good as the other parts.
Who is your target audience?
It’s not really our target audience that matters, it’s our client’s target audience and that obviously changes from brand to brand. That keeps things interesting, it would be boring to have to keep churning out work for a really narrow range of people.
What area of web design lacks the most?
It’s all picked up really. A few years ago the production values seemed a bit low, but everything’s improved.
Online games are still a good bit behind ‘real’ games, but I think that’ll improve if brands can see that the big investment needed to make proper games can be returned. I think it’s bound to happen.
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
It was terrible. It was my own portfolio site and had 3D animated gif’s, the lot. It’s not online now and even if it was…
Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?
If you mean tutorial style books, I haven’t and I don’t plan to.
Running a company has meant learning a variety of skills and I think to educate people on a subject you have to be totally focused on only that. Add that to the fact I don’t know if I’m clever enough to do it!
I’d like to write a children’s book, but again, I’ve no idea if I’d be a good enough writer. I’d like to try it when I’m older though.
What was the toughest thing you ever did with Flash? How long did you spend on it? Is it still online?
I worked on an axonometric adventure game where the character had to walk the shortest distance between two points, avoiding different obstacles on the map.
The maps were quite big and building efficient path finding code was quite difficult. After building it, the client decided not to allow the character to move around the screen (typical!).
The simplest things can take a long time though. You promise the client a little thing, and then you think about it and go “shite – that’ll take ages”
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
Actionscript 3 seems quite impressive and if the processing and graphic speed is as good as they say (and it keeps developing) it will hopefully mean that Flash development can compete with ‘proper’ application development in the future.
However, if clients want and have the budget for more complex applications or Playstation style games before Flash can handle it, it might be different.
What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?
Definitely. I did illustration at college, but I didn’t learn anything that was invaluable to what I’m doing now.
It’s up to people to have a go really - if they’re into it they’ll keep plugging away.
When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?
Word of mouth was, and still is, most important. If you do your best for a client they’ll hopefully want to retain you and they’ll also recommend you to other people.
How have you learned so many Flash/design skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?
I learned what I know through trial, error and perseverance because it’s what I really wanted to do.
If someone really wants to learn they’ll buy books, read forums, make good stuff and bad stuff and make it happen anyway.
What is the most expensive thing you've bought in the last week?
A VAT bill was my most costly outlay! A new hard-drive for my laptop was my most expensive purchase.
What type of overcoat do you wear when Flashing, basically are you a labels man?
I like clothes, but I’m not a labels man. Whereas Sienna mixes designer with high street, I mix high street with slightly cheaper high street.
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
Whit’s fur ye’ll no go past ye
It's been a privilege, thanks very much.
Doing interviews is a total ego trip, so thanks for letting me act all self-important.