.

I remember the first time that I saw my father draw and was amazed how he rendered the image of a tree from reality to a sheet of paper. I wanted to do that!

  Please give us a brief bio of yourself.

I was born August 16, 1977. I was raised in the rural farming town of Mooers, New York, one mile from the US and Canadian border. I spent a lot of time drawing as a child.

I remember the first time that I saw my father draw and was amazed how he rendered the image of a tree from reality to a sheet of paper. I wanted to do that!

At the age of ten my family moved 30 miles south to Morrisonville, NY into a new home built by my father. Around this time I discovered skateboarding. Throughout high school I spent countless hours with my friends making skateboard videos using a VHS-C camcorder and a couple of old VCR’s.

In college, I struggled with the decision of which direction to take with my education. I was very interested in music and art. I took a lot of classes in both and finally found my niche in graphic design. I graduated from Plattsburgh State University with a BA in Fine Arts and a concentration in Graphic Design.

After graduating I took a job as freelance graphic designer in Albany, NY for a few months with a small medical software development company. During this period the internet was in the midst of the 2000 boom.

I saw a great opportunity of how I could merge my background of design, music and video into one medium... Flash! I began learning the basics and made myself a portfolio website. When it was finished I shopped it around interactive agencies in New York City and got some great responses.

In May of 2000 I interviewed at Firstborn Multimedia for a position as a developer. I landed the job and was totally psyched. The level of work they were producing was amazing. Working under the direction of Vas Sloutchevsky I quickly got myself up to speed.

I was soon working on projects for top level clients and winning awards along the way. We beat the internet fallout and I worked my way up to Senior Developer. After three+ years and a lot of valuable experience under my belt, I took a leap of faith and parted ways.

In September of 2003 I joined forces with Mark Ferdman as VP, Senior Developer at Freedom Interactive Design.

  What do you do for inspiration?

I get the most inspiration when I travel. I find when I immerse myself in a foreign place I’m forced to interact with the world around me in new and exciting ways. In turn it helps exercise the creative muscle and spark new ideas.

  Please list 3 of your favourite sites.

http://yugop.com/

His presentation at Flash Forward NYC in 2000 changed my life forever.

http://www.nikeskateboarding.com

I really get a kick out of the “riders” section of this site.

http://www.leoburnett.ca/

I love it.

  What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?

I've achieved many technical merits throughout my life and career. It is hard to narrow it down to one specific moment. I think coming such a long way in my life and career has been my greatest achievement.

One of the highlights along the way has been directing the independent skateboarding film AlphaBetCity. Click HERE to watch the trailer.

  What software couldn't you live without?

I’m pretty sure I could live without all of them, but I definitely couldn’t do my job without Flash, Photoshop, Premiere and After Effects.

If one of those applications were removed from my toolbox I’d be in pretty rough shape. I think I’d suffer the most without my Wacom tablet though.

  What projects do you have in the pipeline?

We have some really great projects in the works right now at Freedom.

We are gearing up for a tribute website as well as a new site for a casino.

Personally, I'm producing/directing a documentary about a boy who lost his vision at the age of eleven and at the age of thirteen began skateboarding.

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

There are some really amazing design companies out there. I’d say that I really admire the work of the following:

The Barbarian Group

R/GA

Big Spaceship

  What effect on traffic do your new designs have?

The visual design of a website greatly influences which path the user will explore or if they will get beyond the first click for that matter.

I followed the traffic stats of wouldyoulikeawebsite.com for a few weeks after it launched. It’s very interesting to see how the visual design was truly directing traffic through the content of the site.

It really proved to me how people respond to the basic elements of visual design.

  Who is your target audience?

It’s all relative. The audience could be tweens, teens, college students or adults. I’ve developed websites for many different audiences.

I really enjoy the challenge of appealing to the target audience. Each project is unique and requires particular sensitivity to their needs. Understanding that is a necessity in fulfilling your role as a designer.

  What area of web design lacks the most?

My main pet peeve in web design is lack of direction. It really annoys me when I go to a site and the purpose of it is not clear.

It’s not necessarily something that can be broken down into a list of do’s and don’ts. What may work for one website may be completely inappropriate for another.

In my opinion the most important goal of any website is to communicate the message to its audience effectively. When that message becomes obscured the design has failed.

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

Nope, I think it’s buried away on a CD-ROM somewhere in my attic.

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

I’ve not written any books, yet. I have a few years ahead of me before I take on that challenge. It is definitely a goal that I’d like to achieve one day, but I’m still looking for my subject.

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

The toughest thing that I ever did with Flash was programming the interface for clydesonline.com.

That website was built in Flash 5 and was pretty ground breaking at the time. I believe it was the first ever all Flash e-commerce website. We ran into some roadblocks along the way, but I believe it took us a couple months to develop it.

I co-wrote an article for Macromedia about it that you can check out HERE. The article is dated at this point but it illustrates how we were pushing the boundaries of Flash at the time. I also spoke about it at Flash Forward NYC in June 2003.

  Do you think Flash is here to stay?

Flash is here to stay for now. I’m not really sure what the future may hold for the software but I assume it will be pushed further into the realm of video and 3-D.

Everyday designers and developers are making advances that require improvements in the tools we use. As long as those demands are met by the software engineers Flash will have a place in our industry.

  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 graduated from college over six years ago. While I was in school there were no course offerings for interactive design from my university.

After I graduated I became very interested in interactive media and bought a few training books for Director and Flash. Using my formal training as a foundation I spent several months studying and experimenting.

When I was hired by Firstborn the majority of my knowledge of interactive design was self-taught.

With that said, it’s definitely possible to break into the field without formal education. Your journey may be difficult and you may stumble more along the way.

I do think that design school is an excellent environment to grow creatively and technically. Sharing the experience of learning with others is a wonderful creative resource. Learning in a vacuum is not the best way to nourish your creative growth.

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

Creating exceptional work is the most effective way to obtain new clients. Going above and beyond the scope of a project is a great way to keep them too.

If you market a great product that people need, they will buy it. You can’t fake quality, people will see right though it.

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

I’ve been working with Flash for seven years. Surrounding myself with other great people who share the same passion for creativity, progress and excellent design has been my #1 resource for learning.

Openness to suggestions and willingness to take on a challenge is an important part of gaining experience and learning.

I have a lot of tricks up my sleeve and I try to share as much knowledge as I can with others. The most important lesson that I can teach anyone is to be organized in order to save time. Time is the most important asset we have, so don’t waste it.

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

I just bought a new air conditioner. It’s been hot as hell in New York City lately.

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

I try to avoid wearing logos. I really don’t like the idea of being a walking advertisement. Usually I wear and a v-neck white tee, way too expensive designer jeans and my Dunkles.

I have a bit of a sneaker fetish.

  Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?

Anything is possible if you put your mind to it.

  It's been a privilege, thanks very much.

Thanks for having me.


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