Do you think Flash is here to stay?

When was this question written? 1998? :P

  Please give us a brief bio of yourself.

I am a Creative Director in the AKQA San Francisco office, overseeing our work for Nike.

I was born in Northern Ireland but managed to escape the bombs and bullets to study visual communications in Leeds and Edinburgh. I graduated in from Edinburgh College of Art with a Masters in Design in 1996.

I joined AKQA in 1997 as one of the founding members of the London office. During my 7 years in London I worked extensively on most of our main clients accounts including Orange, Microsoft, Sainsbury’s, Estee Lauder and The British Council.

In my current role I am responsible for creating multi-channel campaigns for Nike Asia Pacific.

  What do you do for inspiration?

Work. Obviously working for Nike and AKQA are both incredibly inspirational in themselves - I’m not sure I intentionally seek inspiration but I do spend a lot of time keeping ahead of what’s happening in the worlds of interactive and sports marketing - not that I need any excuse to watch endless hours of football, basketball and rugby!

  Please list 3 of your favourite sites.

Mmmm…impossible to answer but these are the ones I look at first thing every morning:




  What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?

As the father of 2 beautiful little girls I’m probably biased but in work terms I’m really proud of the Nike ‘Play to Win’ soccer campaign we did last year.

We worked with illustrator David Foldvari to design both a digital and a complete press and outdoor campaign for Asia with Nike US also picking up the print advertising.

  What software couldn’t you live without?

I’d hate to admit that I’m dependant on any software but Instant Messaging (iChat) is probably the most deviously addictive software ever created.

  What projects do you have in the pipeline?

I’m currently finishing off the final phase of the ‘Uptempo, Flight, Force’ Nike Basketball campaign.

We have some really exciting new Nike projects briefing in a few weeks and other work I’m not able to discuss right now.

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

Tough question but off the top of my head – I have maximum respect for:




  What effect on traffic do your new designs have?

Because Nike execute well integrated campaigns it’s often difficult to take credit for increases in site traffic.

However, having recently worked on the launch of the new Air Max 360 it was very satisfying to spend 2 hours queuing up outside Nike Town SF with hundreds of other sneaker freakers waiting for the launch of the new shoe.

It’s great to experience the anticipation and passion of your audience first hand.

  Who is your target audience?

Asian kids aged between 13-18 yrs old who have a passion for sports.

  What area of web design lacks the most?

It obviously depends what sort of ‘design’ you’re talking about but in the world of marketing communications a lot of the stuff competing for users attention is still vacuous and typically lacks a solid idea or any tangible benefit for the user.

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

The first site I designed was for Orange. I think the current orange.co.uk site is probably version 6.0 but the recipe is still the same, Helvetica Neue and plenty of hex #ff6600.

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

No and No. However, I think all good visual communicators can claim to be story tellers.

I believe that there should be a compelling ‘story’ or narrative at the heart of every good ad or digital experience.

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

My days of hands-on flash development ended in about 1999 and never extended beyond timeline animation and shape tweening!

  Do you think Flash is here to stay?

When was this question written? 1998? :P

  What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?

My views on higher education (design and ad schools) are a bit contradictory.

On one handl I don’t believe that educational qualifications should preclude someone from entering the design/advertising industry.

If a person has raw talent and passion I think that 4+ years of design school can often hold them back and in reality nothing equates to real-world experience.

Ironically, I think one of the main faults of design colleges is that they put too much effort into training their students in all the new technologies and trying to be relevant to an industry which is constantly evolving.

As a result they turn out students who are competent digital craftspeople rather than creative thinkers grounded in the fundamentals of visual communication.

That said, on the other hand and as a Masters graduate, I can testify to the benefits of educational experience. I certainly benefited from great mentoring and the advice of inspirational professors who helped channel my creative energies.

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

Doing great work! AKQA has always been about ‘the work’ not about self-aggrandizement.

The first akqa.com was literally one page containing a list of our clients – the work spoke for itself and for our priority of putting our clients and their consumers first.

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

Ha Ha! A new Golf GTI. VW have kept the US waiting for 3 years but now I got my Fast!

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

Naturally I wear a Macintosh!

  Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?

Stay Hungry. Stay foolish.

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