When asked if you know how to do something always say yes, even if you don't have even the slightest clue on how to do it.
Please give us a brief bio of yourself.
Matt Wright: 26, Flash developer at Rokkan, BFA in Graphic Design from Rochester Institute of Technology.
Likes: My awesome girlfriend, Actionscript, craft beer, seafood, monster trucks, The Shield, David Foster Wallace, Liverpool FC, grilling, Volkswagens, mustaches, MVC design patterns, bikes, FlashDevelop.
Dislikes: Nose hair, fish sauce, debugging, myspace, improper use of the word "literally", Budweiser, clutter, bad drivers, Chelsea FC, restaurant phone talkers, heat waves.
What do you do for inspiration?
I don't necessarily do things on purpose for inspiration. Inspiration comes mostly from situations when I feel uncomfortable or when I feel like something is missing from an experience. This can happen anywhere.
This motivates me to make changes or come up with something to resolve the situation.
I forget who said it, but I remember being told that if you're comfortable, then you'll become complacent. And if this happens, then you'll stop learning and being inspired to do good things.
Sometimes I can go through some dry spells, but if that happens I'll just watch some Steven Segal and Chuck Norris movies. Those guys transcend the idea of inspiration.
Please list 3 of your favourite sites.
The best website about beer: www.beeradvocate.com.
For the best and latest football (soccer) gossip: www.tribalfootball.com.
And the wonderful writings from my favorite design world pundits: www.designobserver.com
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
Well, I'm still relatively young so I don't feel like too many of my achievements are quite notable yet.
But before I moved to New York, I was working upstate in Syracuse. I could wake up at 8:45, get dressed, and drive to work in 10 minutes. I'm not a morning person at all, so I'd say my biggest achievement would be getting out of bed at 7:00AM everyday for the past ten months to catch the train into the city.
Oh, and helping Rokkan win some FWAs is up there too.
Q: What software couldn't you live without?
Umm...Flash? I also really dig FlashDevelop.
What projects do you have in the pipeline?
You can expect some more video game websites from us. We've been working with 2K Games a lot lately and we were excited to learn that they wanted us to do the Bioshock, Ghost Rider, and The Darkness websites. Those should be real fun to work on.
I also have some hypothetical side projects in my head. One in particular is a kitchen kiosk. I discovered that Honeywell manufactured a kitchen computer back in the 1970's. It even had a cutting board on it! It basically stored recipe data via its built in software. But I've been trying to concept a touch screen kiosk that would be helpful in the kitchen.
Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?
Gosh, that's so hard to say...My favorites would be Syrup, Big Spaceship, and Second Story.
What effect on traffic do your new designs have?
To be honest, I'm not really sure. But we always get good responses from the clients.
Who is your target audience?
Everything from bank employees to obsessive dog owners.
Since Rokkan is a smaller shop, I get to work on a lot of different projects with different audiences. It's great. I don't think I'd be happy concentrating on only one audience or client.
In my experience, if you spend too much time with someone chances are they're going to start getting on your nerves.
What area of web design lacks the most?
The most would have to be accessibility. I know for a fact this is where my skillset lacks the most.
I don't have any conditions that make viewing websites difficult, so it's really easy to take it for granted. It's always difficult in the commercial to allocate part of a budget for increased accessibility.
What did your very first website look like and is it still online?
The year 1998. My father was the VP of the youth soccer league I played in and I decided that it'd be cool for the league to have a website. I proposed it to him and he agreed.
It's funny to think about the tools I had at the time. I remember using an archaic version of Dreamweaver and Photoshop 4. It actually had a black background and an animated gif in the header.
You can still see it on the internet archive. And needless to say, it opened up a whole new world of nerdism for me. You can laugh at it here.
Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?
No books currently, but a good friend and colleague of mine in Boston, Marc Leuchner, and I are planning on writing a book once Flash Player 9 becomes a little more ubiquitous.
We've just started talking about it so there's no concrete details yet, but there will hopefully be lots of pictures of monkeys doing human type activities.
What was the toughest thing you ever did in Flash? How long did you spend on it? Is it still online?
It's all relative to the knowledge I had at the time and what a project required.
So I'd have to say the absolute toughest thing I did was design and develop an entire website for a local architecture firm in Syracuse, QPK Design.
It was early 2004 and I had just graduated. I was working at 2ndNature in Syracuse. I didn't have much Actionscript experience, and I had no XML experience whatsoever. But after teaching myself a lot about XML and Actionscript, I was able to design the look, develop the CMS, and develop the Flash site by myself. It took about five months I think. Much longer than it should have taken.
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
Does a bear shit in the woods?
What are your views on design/graphic school? Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?
Aside form the fact that its ridiculously expensive, design school was a great experience for me.
I know I benefited from going to design school because I didn't have a clear idea of what I wanted to do. I just knew that it was going to be something related with design and maybe the internet.
School provided the platform for me to experiment and learn before I moved into the real world.
I also met a lot of good people and made a lot of good friends. Many of them are in the industry and I try to keep in touch with them as much as possible.
But just like anything else you have be self motivated to take advantage of what is in front of you.
Skills and a resulting job will not be handed to you just because you paid ridiculous amounts of money for a degree.
On the other hand, if you're as motivated as someone like Bono, then you could probably teach yourself everything you needed to know.
When your company just getting started, what did you find was the most effective for getting new clients?
I'm not a partner or a business owner, but from my experience it's all about referrals. If you do good work, that should be enough to make people talk about it and spread your gospel.
How have you learned so many Flash/design skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?
The best way to learn is this: When asked if you know how to do something always say yes, even if you don't have even the slightest clue on how to do it. Always.
When I end up doing this, I just lock myself to a desk for days at a time to read and experiment. And usually, it all comes together. I may not be very good at doing it afterwards, but at least I have an idea and the next time I can improve on it.
On top of that, I always read up on Actionscript whenever I can. You have to stay on top of everything in this industry otherwise you'll become obsolete as fast as most Apple hardware.
What is the most expensive thing you've bought in the last week?
Well, this past weekend I went to the beer store and spent way too much money on a bunch of craft beer. Beers from around the US and some from Europe.
I swear I don't have a drinking problem, I just like tasting different styles of beer. I also bought some parts for the bike I'm building. I forget which was more expensive.
What type of overcoat do you wear when Flashing? Basically, are you a labels man?
For the most part, I hate labels. Labels are for people who have something to prove. But sometimes they're unavoidable.
I'll admit I like Nike sneakers, but I'm not buying the $100+ pairs with my name in diamonds on the side.
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
I'm going to see Iron Maiden on Friday the 13th. Jealous much?