Step it up a notch and outdo the competition, treat your clients as family and it will pay off.
Please give us a brief bio of yourself.
My name is Tony Blessander and I'm 27 years old. I live in Vasteras, Sweden with my girlfriend and son and our 3 cats.
I'm a Senior Designer at Fantasy Interactive. I’ve been working here a bit over a year and I’m enjoying every minute of it.
Before FI I was a freelance designer working mostly within the areas of GUI/Interface design and a couple of years back a friend and I had our own little business called Galoon.
My interest in design has always been there, although in the beginning I was more into working with my hands, sculpting etc. But all that changed when my dad brought home our first computer. The rest is history.
What do you do for inspiration?
I usually spend time outdoors, skateboarding, go for a walk with my girlfriend or chill with my friends.
I get a lot of inspiration from movies, music and also from my 2 month old son, he's so awesome and it helps just looking at him and his big smile when times are tough. He's the cure for everything I tell you.
And stay away from the Internet when you feel the lack of inspiration come crawling.
Please list 3 of your favorite sites.
I have a weird sense of humor I guess and these sites can usually give me my daily dose of laughs.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
Definitely my son Filip. Nothing can compete with him. Watching him grow and learn, laugh and play and then realize that he's my own flesh and blood. Nothing will ever beat that feeling.
Other than that I think being where I am today is one of my biggest achievements, knowing that I love my job, that I work with amazing people and that I'm surrounded by a loving family and I'm healthy (sort of).
What software couldn't you live without?
Photoshop! It’s my tool for everything regarding work.
Open up a blank page, set your mind free and whatever you want to do Photoshop will take you there. With a little help from 3D Studio Max and Flash of course ;)
What projects do you have in the pipeline?
Currently I'm working on a new web mail application together with a team of extremely talented people.
It’s only a couple of weeks in the making but you can already feel that it will be a huge leap forward when it comes to how people use web mail and video together.
This is why I like working with interactive design; you can do anything you want if you're working with the right people. There are no limits, it’s awesome!
Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?
What effect on traffic do your new designs have?
I would like to think they have a big impact. I always try to design things that are very user-friendly but at the same time give them that new fresh feel.
It’s fun to take on a less interesting project and make it beautiful.
For example, there aren’t many ways you can make stocks feel cool and inviting but when you succeed and understand that you've transformed something pretty boring into something really cool it feels amazing.
When you can get a 15 year old kid to use a stocks application then you know you've done something right :)
I have to say though that my designs wouldn’t be anything if it weren’t for the team of application and interactive developers in the office. Together we make it happen.
Who is your target audience?
Anyone that considers the internet to be a fun and interactive place. Anyone that wants to see new, fresh applications, games and portals that are actually useful for you.
I want people to be interested in the stuff that’s out there and the endless possibilities it offers.
You can do so much but at the same time that’s the biggest problem, anyone can do anything with the internet.
I want people to see that there's more to it than just chat rooms and ugly company sites.
What area of web design lacks the most?
I think that the goal of perfection is missing sometimes. I often see sites that have the potential to look and feel better than they do but they just aren’t there yet.
I don’t know if it has to do with the amount of time put into each project or if it is the passion for what they do and who they are doing it for that’s missing, but in general I would like to see more sites that have a meaning, that are useful, and still look beautiful.
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
It was a mess. I had seen some cool techy sites on the internet and I decided to design one of my own.
It was very colorful and had abstract imagery in the background but it was impossible to navigate and there was hardly any info on it at all.
I used Photoshop for the main design and used hands-on HTML coding to put it all together (damn right), added some flash animation, looped it and uploaded it.
Somehow it won a couple of webawards but it was lost for eternity after I pressed the delete button and forgot to undo. Don’t ask me how but I think it was for the best.
Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?
I’ve contributed some designs for a couple of books but I haven’t written any books myself. I don’t think I will either, I'm here to design and I think its best to leave the writing to those who can.
What was the toughest thing you ever did with Flash? How long did you spend on it? Is it still online?
That would have to be my own personal portfolio in 2004.
I'm not an experienced flash guy and can barely code AS so I had to read a lot of books to get the site to act the way I wanted so there were tons of tweens that I guess should have been coded and to upload new items to it was not the easiest thing in the world. It’s not online any more but safe and sound on a CD at home.
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
I'm 100% sure that it’s here to stay. You can do so much with it even though most people can’t use it the way it’s meant to be used.
It’s hard to grasp how far you can take it. I think in the future though it will change and be more integrated with other software. I would like to see a better support for 3D as well.
What are your views on design/graphic schools? Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?
I'm living proof that you don’t need a degree in design to be able to work in this industry.
I'm pretty much self-taught and even though I think it’s good to have educational experience I think you have a more open mind to design if you have learned it on your own.
If you are serious and set your goals high you don’t need anyone but yourself to take you there!
I would like to go back to school sometime in the future, study typography and perhaps the art of traditional animation but for the time being I’m not going anywhere.
When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?
I think one of the best ways of getting new clients is to perform well with the clients you have now and the projects at hand.
Step it up a notch and outdo the competition, treat your clients as family and it will pay off. I think advertising is good but word of mouth is better.
How have you learned so many Flash/design skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?
As mentioned above I’m self-taught and I’ve learned through trial and error.
I've read some books to learn some software but I think the best way to learn is just go for it and try stuff out. You'll learn more that way and you'll pick up things you would have missed if you had your head stuck in a book.
I also think that you should focus on more than one area of creative works. Design is not just pixels on a screen, there's is so much more to it.
Read a book, draw a painting, watch movies, buy a camera and learn photography. It all helps no matter what area of design you're interested in.
What is the most expensive thing you've bought in the last week?
A new 600 watt (!) Panasonic 5.1 surround system and a new washing machine. It has been an expensive week I guess.
What type of overcoat do you wear when Flashing, basically are you a labels man?
Not really. You'll see me wearing some labels sometimes but I really don’t care that much. As long as it’s comfortable and looks good I'll wear it.
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
Treat your family and friends right, surround yourself with loving people, give to them what you would like to get in return and have fun!
Life is too short to take seriously. Enjoy it for what it is, and sleep well. Not getting enough sleep can be dangerous.
It's been a privilege, thanks very much.
Thank you for taking interest in what I do. It’s been a lot of fun.