... spent 2.5 years at Razorfish. Which has to have been one of the craziest times of my life the dot com boom, San Francisco and the most insane, intelligent and creative people I have had the fortune to work with.
Please give us a brief bio of yourself.
I grew up in a place called Rockford, IL, which is just north of Chicago. It is the home of Cheap Trick and that is about it for its redeeming qualities.
I went to school in the icy tundra at Minneapolis College of Art and Design (where Joe Duffy attended and Jospeh Beuys spoke at).
I went to work right after graduation at a small shop called Designstein in Minneapolis where I learn a ton about information architecture, design, clients and development.
From there I moved to San Francisco and spent 2.5 years at Razorfish. Which has to have been one of the craziest times of my life the dot com boom, San Francisco and the most insane, intelligent and creative people I have had the fortune to work with.
I then transferred to Razorfish Los Angeles and left about 6 months later. I then spent a year at another small design shop called Hello Design where I got to work on some really amazing work with award-winning designers on more of the story-telling side of design.
I then moved on to Rubin Posaer and Associates (RPA) where I spent a year working on the Honda Motorcycles account. I really learned the ropes and inter-workings of the ad agency environment here.
After RPA I moved on to Sapient where I spent 2.5 years working on the GM and Nissan / Infiniti accounts. I learned a great deal about cars and project management while at Sapient.
I then moved on to Genex to work on the Acura account. Genex seems to have some of the most creative people I have met since moving to LA a real great group. I spent about a year at Genex before I came to my current post at Saatchi & Saatchi LA.
At Saatchi & Saatchi I work on the Toyota account with some of the ad agency world's smartest people. It is a really great place to be and Toyota as a client is one of the best I have worked for.
When I am not jumping from job to job I teach an Art Center at Night class with my friend Mary Gribbin. We have been doing the class since 2001 and it amazes me every time a student triggers some new type of inspiration for my own work.
After that I spend a lot of time collecting records, reading design books, driving my car too fast, going to the beach and loving LA.
What do you do for inspiration?
1. Music (don’t get me started)
2. People (designers, artists, students, friends, relatives, enemies, loves, hates)
3. Movies (Kubrick, Anderson, Jonze)
4. Art (Hirst, Donovan, Viola, Hamilton, Smith, Beuys, Smith, Diaz, Evans)
5. Places (beaches, forests, mountains)
6. Food (anything vegetarian)
7. Websites and TV (anything interesting)
8. Drugs (or lack there of)
10. 9 (left intentionally blank)
Please list 3 of your favourite sites.
1. All the design portals (FWA, Newstoday, K10K, Surfstation) they are constantly taking me to new places I never dreamed of.
2. News sites (CNN, NYT, LAT, BBC, WP and Google) I think it is important to know what is going on in the world.
3. Email sites (Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail) always communicating.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
What software couldn't you live without?
I don’t think there is any software I couldn’t LIVE without. I use Safari and Firefox a lot though.
What projects do you have in the pipeline?
Tons of stuff for Toyota; Tundra, HSD, Dew Action Sports, Toyota.com redesign and some internal projects for Saatchi.
Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?
1. M & Co.
2. Saville & Associates
3. Bruce Mau Design
What effect on traffic do your new designs have?
Well the majority of work I create has never existed before so I would say my effect on the traffic through design is significant.
Where I have re-designed an existing site I don’t have specific numbers but clients have always seemed happy with the results.
Who is your target audience?
I would say generally people who use the Internet. Who specifically depends on the product or service and business requirements.
What area of web design lacks the most?
Hands down typography, if I see one more inch mark…
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
It had a black background with vintage astronaut illustrations all over it. It contained a lot more of my fine art work and writings, not anymore though I have sold out!
The URL is still online (www.transmitter1.com) with my current work.
Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?
I have not and I do not plan to, maybe movie scripts, editorial rants, but not books.
What was the toughest thing you ever did with Flash? How long did you spend on it? Is it still online?
I made a button animate across the screen once. I am not really a Flash person; I don’t want to fill my head with code. I know enough to be dangerous but not enough to do anything cool.
But what I do know about Flash is that it has been able to realize almost everything I have ever thought up for an online experience.
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
I think it is here to stay until something better comes along.
What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?
This is an interesting question, when I went to school there were really no classes that taught experience design, I had to become interdisciplinary and basically teach myself with some loose guidance from some of my mentors at MCAD (mainly Piotr Szyhalski).
And I think I was a little resentful for a while that I had these huge student loans bills and I had basically taught myself.
Then as I progressed in my career I really came to realize that I had learned a lot of intangible things through art school.
The first being to always think conceptually not stylistically, the second being that I learned the rules of design which I think is imperative before you can break them and the third is the structure in which art school gave me to explore and understand what it was I wanted to do with my creativity.
So back to the question, I do think someone can get into this field without an educational experience in a school environment. I think there are some really great designers out there that fall into this category and I think they can sometimes look between the lines to see something new.
But if I think about my favorite designers that are doing consistently great design work for years that are breaking down conceptions of what design is they are almost always invariably an educational experience in a school environment person. Just my thoughts on the subject, you asked!
When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?
Well, I have never started a company but for new business pitches I have worked on that have won it has always been about great thinking and never about executions. Always.
How have you learned so many Flash/design skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?
I would say if you want to work in the world of experience design, start off in a small shop where you have to play many roles.
It is a great way to learn a lot quickly and really figure out where you would be most happy in this environment. Also always try to work with people that are smarter than you, I cannot stress this enough.
What is the most expensive thing you've bought in the last week?
The Stooges S/T LP Elecktra Red Label $50, when I bought it the guy told me I bought the best record in the store, I thought that was kinda neat.
What type of overcoat do you wear when Flashing, basically are you a labels man?
I don’t know what this means and it seems a bit perverted. Whatever overcoat you would like me to wear, I guess!
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
There is too much pressure around this question, I can’t just come up with some great piece of advice right on the spot like this, maybe I should just quote someone… “Every man is an artist.” – Joseph Beuys
It's been a privilege, thanks very much.