I can safely say I would hang out with every single person I work with after work, and that is a rarity in an office of 20.

  Please give us a brief bio of yourself.

Mike Kern, Born in Baltimore, MD in 1978. Currently, I am a partner and design director for the interactive team at Struck Design.

My sordid past includes an undergraduate degree in Photography followed by a Masters in New Media and Design from Rochester Institute of Technology.

Sometime in the middle of school I started a small web shop specializing in flash which I later sold during the dot-bomb era. Then. I got out completely.

Tried my hand at making action sports films, when the reality that decent budgets only go to the top two or three companies hit... I gave up my dream of being a lifelong ski bum with a camera.

For the last couple of years I have focused on working on projects that I really, truly enjoy.

I have taught new media at the University of Colorado; freelanced for Jagger Di Paolo & Kemp and Domani Studios; worked as the art director at Summit Projects doing super fun outdoor work and Switch Interactive doing smart viral pieces; and have finally settled in here at Struck.

We are a 20 person design firm located in Salt Lake City, doing both print and interactive work, and no I am not Mormon, please do not ask again.

Oh yes, since we believe in Teamwork here at Struck with a capital "T" or something. I thought I would let people stand over my shoulder, and say something if they felt the urge as I answered this comprehensive query.

This seems like a bad idea, oh well too late. Comments from misc employees marked PG for peanut gallery.

PG: What's this for? Shouldn't you be working? Ohhhh FWRock on. What up guys, are we famous?

  What do you do for inspiration?

Typically, I go skiing and jump off cliffs or hurl myself down a mountain on my downhill bike, I find getting an adrenaline high helps me clear my head.

Although, I am definitely the type of person where the best inspiration tends to hit me when I have too much time on my hands.

I always carry a notebook in my car because I often find myself jotting little notes, I seem to think best when I am as far away from a computer as possible.

  Please list 3 of your favorite sites.

Unfortunately, I could not come up with any pretentious, designery answers for this... I have to admit I am a bit of a meat and potatoes guy.




PG: Meat and Potatoes??? Reminds me of David Bowie in Labyrinth.

Q. What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?

Definitely, joining the spectacular team here at Struck. I love leading a team where when I come to work everyday, I look forward to it. Dare I say it... It is even fun.

We are big believers in work hard, play hard and there is not a single person here that I do not look up to, and learn something from.

I can safely say I would hang out with every single person I work with after work, and that is a rarity in an office of 20.

PG: I'm surprised you didn¹t say anything about the time you took on twelve five year olds and won.

  What software couldn't you live without?

I-tunes - If only every user interface was as intuitive and user friendly.

  What projects do you have in the pipeline?

Well, we just launched version 2 of OGIO and will be rolling out all sorts of new marketing efforts for them, over the next year.

We are also building some really interesting backend technologies for OGIO, databases tied to their distribution channels, a hang-tag generator, and custom printed catalogs all driven from their site.

We will be starting on the rebrand of a major cable station and are really looking forward to thinking about how to integrate some new technologies, such as wireless, social media initiatives, and content push.

Finally, we will be launching some really interesting products in the near future, but I can't say too much on that front, it is definitely going to make for an interesting year.

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

I don't believe I can answer this question fairly, but I have enormous respect for these guys:

AKQA - for their innovative technology approach, and an innate ability to look beyond our current medium.

WDDG - for being one of the first design agencies to put humor in their design... And have it actually be funny.

Digital Kitchen - for delivering one solid motion graphics piece after the next. I think their work on Jade Empire is still one of the most beautiful pieces to be done, but it could just be my penchant for Asian design culture.

PG: Great Choices.

  What effect on traffic do your new designs have?

ShaveEverywhere.com met its traffic goals for the month in the first 3 days of its launch, and it seems like every blog in the nation has picked the site up.

There was also a really great article in the Wall Street Journal about it as well, pretty exciting.

OGIO.com distributors reported the largest single day sales numbers on the day of the relaunch.

All in all we have had some great successes in the last year and I am really looking forward to strategic thinking for some of our new clients.

So I would have to say the answer is "real good."

PG: The Derek Zoolander Center for Children Who Can't Read Good and Wanna Learn to do Other Stuff Good Too.

  Who is your target audience?

This is primarily client dependent; however, as a general rule not Jacob Nielsen.

  What area of web design lacks the most?

Standards... seems counter intuitive given my last statement, huh. This is really more aimed at a certain large corporation that never seems to comply with the W3C.

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

I think my first real site was probably my portfolio site, motionboy and yes it is still online.

It looks quite a bit different than that original version though... Not sure where that one is, probably on a floppy disk somewhere in my basement, where it can stay. Ahhh... Memories.

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

No, not at this point, but we are currently producing a process book for Struck as a studio that should be available early next year.

I have also had this interesting concept for an experimental interface design book ever since college but I can never seem to get started on it. If anyone is interested email me at mikek@struckdesign.com

PG: In the email please provide the content for the book. Thanks.

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

I would say our latest release for Philips, ShaveEverywhere.com.

This is the first time that we have built an entire site around video, and there were some unique challenges in the production of this particular piece, especially in the areas of post production, and processor requirements.

The timeline was around six weeks, and it just went live, so yes it is.

PG: I thought the toughest part was not laughing every time the Bodygroom spokesman said "Balls."

  Do you think Flash is here to stay?

In the short term yes... But to stay whose to say. Products come and go.

We are still in an era, where I believe a small team could brainstorm something that would massively rethink the way we develop and create.

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

Kind of a loaded question. This is totally dependent on how a person learns.

If you want to break into this field and you excel in a scholastic environment or you are unsure what direction you want to pursue, school may be the answer.

If you are a talented artist, and great at learning on your own, build yourself a great portfolio, and you will get snatched up in no time.

Honestly, I came into this field as it was beginning. I would never have even known it existed until it was too late if I had not gone to school.

Figure out, who you are, how you learn, and apply yourself. You have to have a great eye, work hard, and have a passion for it.

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

Struck has received much of its work through word of mouth; but, now that we are growing we utilize representation.

Ironically enough, our rep is the same person that many years ago I began my first company with, so in a way things have come full circle.

  How have you learned so many Flash/design skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?

I would say the best advice I could give is to never stop learning.

Throughout my career I have never sat still, I seem to like to put myself in uncomfortable situations to see if I will come out unscathed, and for the most part it has worked.

Also, don't be afraid to mess up or scrap a design.

My favorite pieces are the ones where I designed for hours and then realized that I was not getting anywhere. Threw out where I was at, and started fresh, often on my own dollar at that point.

Seems like my best work comes from a bit of strife.

PG: Don't do design. Be a doctor instead.

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

A wife.... I mean an engagement ring.

PG: How is that Russian Passport coming?

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

Not so much a labels man, but I definitely have a bit of a car fetish.

I have a Volkswagen R32 that I absolutely love. I think that is the main problem with choosing design as a career. Everything around you needs to be designed perfect right down to the OXO measuring cup.

Note to self... "You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake."

  Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?

Design is in the details. I see so much work out there that has several great aspects but misses the minutia.

Whether this is due to lack of time, lack of desire, or both; I suggest spending the extra effort, in the end it is always worth it, and will be noticed.

Also, if you have an ego, lose it. You may think you are an artist, but you are not. Artists do not have clients, or deadlines.

I have met so many designers in our field that can't take it when a client wants to alter their designs and throws a tantrum.

If you want to be a great designer, learn to compromise and develop educated client solutions, thinking proactively always wins.

  It's been a privilege, thanks very much.

No. Thank you.

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