.

I never really turn off the radar for scooping inspiration so I am constantly engaged in the search on an unconscious level.

  Please give us a brief bio of yourself.

My name is Jesper Bentzen and at the moment I live in Kolding, Denmark.

I am currently pursuing a MA in graphic design at Designskolen Kolding, Denmark where I also have a BA in interactive media.

Before starting the MA I lived and worked in London, England where I did 3d computer graphics and 2d compositing for high profile clients at Absolute, a renowned post-production company in Soho, London.

In the meantime I also run Anova from which I do all my professional freelance work.

I have worked with clients from all over the world in a wide range of areas covering: Video and animation, computer games, identity development, websites, audio visual installations, physical computing and robots.

I work in the area between visuals and technology and I am continuously looking for new ways to explore that area.

  What do you do for inspiration?

I never really turn off the radar for scooping inspiration so I am constantly engaged in the search on an unconscious level.

I use the net a lot for picking up trends and styles, but most of my inspiration comes from observations during everyday life and long inspiring talks with my cool design school buddies Tina Dueholm, Jens Christensen and Jonas Mouritsen.

I try to look for phenomenons, patterns and possible relationships between things and it can be quite rewarding sometimes. I never really feel uninspired. I always have several projects waiting in store.

  Please list 3 of your favourite sites.

That's impossible! I have so many favorite sites for all different reasons. I'll just have to pick the first 3 that comes to mind:

VVork

Motionographer

TheFWA

  What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?

The biggest achievement work wise, was probably learning advanced 3d from the ground up within 6 months while producing several high profile cg heavy projects at the same time. I can't remember doing much else than 3d during that time. I was quite stressful but it definitely paid off.

  What software couldn't you live without?

Oh no, not another question indirectly involving exclusions! ;) I use so many different programs on a daily basis that I would miss every single one if I didn't have access to them.

I have always loved Flash for its diversity. I normally use flash for prototyping ideas, but recently I have started using Processing due to its flexible nature and unique features.

  What projects do you have in the pipeline?

As I am about to complete my MA in graphic design, most of my time is devoted to better my visual communication skills and pass my exams.

I do have some big project coming up though, one of them being a website for a big post-production company. I am also helping out my good friend Karsten with his new mobile video service called Mobloom, which I think is going to be huge!

I have only just recently started to grow interest in moving imagery so I expect to do a lot of experiments creating live graphics, linear, interactive as well as completely random generated moving 2d/3d imagery. At least that is what I want to try out next.

On the side I am also working on a small CMS system called pluto, target at small to medium sized flash websites.

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

Again that's really hard to answer! I am going to stick to website design companies to make answering the question easier. I am not saying they are my all-time top 3, but I consider them quite big in their field:

Yugop

Group94

Big Spaceship

I could easily name 3 different companies if you asked me another day. There are so many talented people around. It’s just an unfair question.

  What effect on traffic do your new designs have?

It really depends on who the client is. Until recently I haven't worked with that many big clients, but there is no doubt that it always impress people to show famous brands and people in your portfolio.

I rarely get any attention for uploading my personal projects, but increased traffic is not the motivation of doing personal projects in the first place so it’s perfectly alright with me.

  Who is your target audience?

It depends on the project I am working on.

  What area of web design lacks the most?

I think usability and substance is what web design is lacking the most. There is so much focus on style going around lately that it’s really hard to find good stories.

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

Hmm, I remember some blue interconnected circles on a black background. "Unfortunately" its not online anymore, I took it down and then it was stolen along with the rest of my early digital work. I guess the clever thieves thought my backup CDs where blank...

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

No I haven’t written any books yet nor do I have any plan to write a book in the coming future. I have been featured in some magazines for my work but that’s about it.

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

I am not sure if I can put my finger on a specific thing. I get bored doing the same thing twice so I always put pressure on myself when working, forcing myself to constantly learn new things.

If it is easy to start with then it most likely ends up becoming a challenge because I start to fill in with additional features and functions.

  Do you think Flash is here to stay?

Flash is stronger than ever right now especially with the new video capabilities. I expect to se motion graphics and interactivity merge within the coming months, if they haven't already.

If the program will continue to be called Flash is hard to say, but there will always be a place for what flash is capable of.

With the first Flash versions one person could know all the programs features and functions, but today people normally specializes in either design/animation or heavy actionscript programming.

Who knows, maybe flash will start to split up into developer and designer packages soon.

  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 don’t think you need to go to school to make it in the field and it has been proven several times. But there is no doubt that you will learn something from going to school. Some schools teach programs and tools while others teach design methods.

The design school I attended had more focus on research, analysis, conceptualizing, storytelling and design methods than teaching programs. I can only remember being taught Final Cut Pro and Processing.

The rest I learned by myself while studying. I would find it much harder to learn on my own what the design school taught me, than learning new programs and tools. And at school you have the time to learn, experiment and develop your personal style compared to working for clients all day.

At the end its all depends on your ambition, your skills, how you present yourself and a bit of luck.

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

I found doing self promotional work was a good way of attracting clients. The quality of the content is the most important factor. The easier, quicker and more precise you can present it the better.

Personally I don't think you need an over-the-top flash site to attract people’s attention if the content of the site is good.

Having famous clients in your portfolio is effective but getting the right clients to match your skills and desire can be tricky. You have to think about the kind of jobs you accept and what project you put in your portfolio.

If you are good at programming, you mainly accept programming jobs and you put them in your portfolio, then it’s more likely that you will get hired because of your programming skills. But if what you really want to do, is become good at graphic design, then try avoiding programming jobs even though it’s easier and pays more.

Also try to make sure that your strongest projects are within graphic design even though it means removing some really strong programming projects. You will never get better at graphic design if you keep accepting programming jobs.

This implies for all areas. If you want to do higher profile jobs then don’t keep accepting jobs form the flouriest down the street. Even though you do a perfect job for them, putting that in your portfolio will never attract high profile clients. Not even if you have hundreds of those projects in your portfolio.

Therefore I recommend doing self promotional work when you think you have enough skills to push yourself forward. Doing the right kind of self promotional work will also attract the right clients and give you a head start instead of working the endless way up from the flouriest.

This may sounds like a no-brainer, but it happens quite often that people forget to think about the fact that each project they accept and put in their portfolio will have an effect on their future potential clients. It's really a matter of money vs. fulfilling your dreams. Don't let money make the choice for you.

Ups, this has started to sound like a lecture of wisdom. Anyway, it’s just my observation and I hope someone can draw benefit from it.

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

Now days, becoming good at flash involve good actionscripting skills. There is no easy way around learning to program actionscript but there is so much material available that it is easy to get started.

I bought Colin Moocks' actionscript bible called "Actionscript for Flash - The Definitive Guide" and it’s exactly what is proclaims. I highly recommend it if you want to learn actionscripting from the bottom up and you don't mind reading a lot of technical pages. But there are definitely other ways to go like using the various flash webportals and flash forums.

As long as you keep yourself motivated it’s going to take your far. Study the people, sites or features you like and try to recreate that using what ever skills you have. It’s really all about jumping straight into and using the great build in reference. A lot of guessing and mistakes are expected so don't give up because of that.

You also need good design skills to get the most out of your programming skills. Flash typically involves graphic design and typography, and being able to layout a site properly will add justice to your fine actionscript code.

As for animation I recommend gaining an interest in motion graphics. Having experience with combustion or after effects will become more and more favorable as motion graphics and flash merge.

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

I think it was a plane ticket to London.

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

No overcoat for me, I really like to wear shorts and t-shirt while working, as if I was just heading for the beach! Not sure if I am a labels man, but I do love my Puma jacket right now.

  Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?

Oh, I wish I had something cool to say...

Substance before style, attention to detail, less is more, do what you love, money isn't all...

  It's been a privilege, thanks very much.

Likewise, thank you so much for having me.

Keep up the good work!


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