I never think "Hmm, I need some inspiration" and go bungee jumping or pick up a design annual. Inspiration comes from diverse experiences in my everyday life.
Please give us a brief bio of yourself.
My name is Dave Werner. I'm 26 years old, and recently finished my studies at the Portfolio Center graduate school in Atlanta.
Before that, I attended the University of Virginia with an English and Music major, and taught 6th/7th grade language arts with the Teach for America program in Baltimore.
Next week, I'm moving up to New York to start a job with Frog Design.
A little while ago, my student portfolio launched at okaydave.com. Short films are used to tell the story behind each project, hopefully making the portfolio more of a narrative experience and less of a thumbnail click-through.
Thanks to exposure from places like theFWA, Core77, Speak Up, blogs from Adobe and Microsoft, Newstoday, Stylegala and CMYK magazine, the site spread like wildfire.
As an unknown student trying to make a good first impression in the professional creative industry, it helped open doors and create new opportunities. It's been an amazing experience.
What do you do for inspiration?
Anything and everything. I never think "Hmm, I need some inspiration" and go bungee jumping or pick up a design annual. Inspiration comes from diverse experiences in my everyday life.
What software couldn't you live without?
What projects do you have in the pipeline?
Well, the biggest one is Cadence of Seasons, an interactive novel project that was previewed in the portfolio.
It's a fun personal project where I'm writing the story, illustrating and animating the visuals, composing the soundtrack, and programming it all together.
Other than that, I'll probably be making a lot more short online films up in New York.
I might also try to play a few solo acoustic guitar shows up there too. Rocking some Paula Abdul and Madonna. We'll see how it goes.
What effect on traffic do your new designs have?
The response to okaydave was insane, especially because it's so video-driven; the site got about 2000GB of traffic in its first month.
The most exciting thing to me is not really the numbers, but the individual connections that people have felt from the portfolio.
Teachers have written about how they used the site as an instructional tool as a source of inspiration for their classes.
Women have shared their reactions to the female self-image project, Reflect/Respect.
I even heard from Wachovia and Brinker International, the real companies behind a couple of fictional school projects in the portfolio.
That sense of communication on an individual level seems much more important than pageviews or bandwidth.
What area of web design lacks the most?
It's hard to say, because the web is always evolving and the rules are just being written.
Everyone has a unique definition of what a well-designed website is, whether it's a clean CSS news portal or an engaging flash experience. It depends on the site's purpose, and what best communicates that message in a clear, engaging way.
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
Oh man, my first site was terrible. It was a homepage for a daily comic strip I drew in college called Second Nature. Animated spinning globe gifs, midi background music, blinking text; the works. Thankfully, it's not online anymore.
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
In some form or another, yeah. Experience design in general is everywhere now; from billboards to airport kiosks to museum exhibits, everything is moving and becoming more interactive.
I'd also love to see Flash begin to take on dimensionality to rival that of modern video games.
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'm completely biased, having just graduated from Portfolio Center, but I can only speak from my own experience.
I loved it. It was a challenging environment that continually pushed me beyond what I thought I was capable of.
After coming from such a depressing experience teaching, I decided to work as hard as I could for two years in school, and end up with a career that I would genuinely enjoy. It was absolutely the right step.
Portfolio Center provided me with constant inspiration through instructors and other students, internships with companies like Iconologic and Pentagram, and a portfolio that I'm extremely proud of.
There's also something to be said for the connections that school can give you. Many of my most serious job opportunities came from PC alumni, who are now in positions of leadership spread out across the entire creative industry.
How have you learned so many Flash/design skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?
Outside of school, I created a lot of personal projects. Little games, movies, songs or mini-portfolios that were just for fun.
I'd suggest finding issues or ideas that you are passionate about, and try to translate them into whatever medium you want to grow in.
Books, tutorials and classes, while serving as a great starting point, will only take you so far.
What is the most expensive thing you've bought in the last week?
Wendy's Value Meal #6, the Spicy Chicken combo.
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
"Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves. All progress, therefore, depends on unreasonable people." -George Bernard Shaw
It's been a privilege, thanks very much.
Thank you. The FWA is such a great resource of innovation and creativity online. Best wishes for continued success.