We started a band at the office. And while we only have 2 original songs at the moment, we plan to start doing some live gigs after the New Year.

  Please give us a brief bio of yourself.

TOHSAKI Hisayoshi

Born 1976. Graduated Keio University. Became a principal at IMG SRC, Inc., with whom I had been involved as a student since their launch.

Left IMG SRC in May 2005, and established The Strippers.

Awards include the One Show Interactive Gold and London International Ad Awards.

The Strippers currently has a staff of nine.

  What do you do for inspiration?

We brainstorm at the office. We form a circle and take turns throwing out ideas -- anything -- about a project, and in the process of developing and organizing those ideas, the final approach often crystallizes.

  Please list 3 of your favourite sites.

sensorium - Created in 1996; this is one of the sites that inspired me to go into Web-related work.

Amana - The PhotoAgency site created by the renowned Yugo Nakamura of Tha.

Talby - A site I created in 2004, that's no longer online. The English version was an abridged version of the Japanese site, which was a promotional site for a mobile phone named Talby, designed by Marc Newson.

The site had a lot of different features that I put my heart and soul into creating, like a space where multi-users could converse using gestures via Shockwave3D, an artificial-intelligence conversation program in which the Talby itself became a character and conversed (in Japanese) via synthesized sound, and Talby dominos.

  What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?

Having a site I created be a sensation, not among Web designers, but among general users.

It makes me happy to find my sites being talked about somewhere, for example, finding a community to a site I've designed on a social networking site, or in Japan, on the mega anonymous bulletin board known as 2channel.

I strive to create not the kind of design portal and other such sites that Web designers look at and praise, but rather sites that are in effect a form of entertainment, that seem fun and pique the interest of the general public.

  What software couldn't you live without?

Macromedia Flash, Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, etc. etc. And of course, Outlook, InternetExplorer and Windows.

  What projects do you have in the pipeline?

Most of our work is basically advertising. For example, promotional sites for new products being introduced to the market.

Right now we're working on something for a carbonated beverage, and something related to housing. We're also restructuring a massive EC site.

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

I'm not that up on overseas sites, but of Japanese sites:

Bascule - a company continually challenging new and interesting things.

Tha - the company of Yugo Nakamura, who I mentioned before.

Business Architects - Yugo Nakamura is also a former member of this company, which today has around 100 employees.

There are a fair number of Web-design companies with staff of over 100 in Japan, but in my opinion, this is the only company of that scale that truly maintains quality and originality. I'm sure a number of their sites have been taken up on FW

  What effect on traffic do your new designs have?

I'm not sure I fully understand the question but... once they become the talk of the kind of SNS and bulletin-board sites I mentioned before, people flock to the site, and fans develop.

Having them mentioned in blogs, and suchlike -- I think there are a lot of effects. Of course, these are minor compared to developing banners, if you have the budget to do so.

  Who is your target audience?

It differs from project to project: women in their 30s at times, businessmen in their 20s at others.

  What area of web design lacks the most?

Speaking in terms of the trade, I guess I'd have to say project budgets.

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

The synapse project

The site's no longer functioning, but there are some captured screenshots online. It was a site I made in 1997-98. I used JavaApplet and developed my own server program to create a site where multiple users could simultaneously play an association game.

In present terms, this might be like building something like FlashMediaServer youself, no?.

The way people think differs from person to person. This is especially apparent in the first thing you think of when you hear a particular word.

When they hear the word "Mac", for example, some people will think of an Apple computer, others, McDonalds (which by the way is called Mac in Japan), and still others, the athlete. It really depends on the person's background.

Everything from sex, height, where you were raised, income bracket, and so on.

I created the site to see if those differences wouldn't stand out by having users who were segmented based on these various background characteristics each play an association game in a different space.

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

I've co-authored a few books. I don't have anything planned at present.

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

It was around the time I was working Flash4 that was the toughest.

The program itself was at a substandard level and it had lots of bugs.

Mid Tokyo Maps was a site I created back then. It was awarded the OneShow Gold among other awards.

  Do you think Flash is here to stay?

Of course.

  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 think it's possible. I for one didn't graduate from a design or graphic school.

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

Creating good sites, and having them be talked/written about. Getting a lot of press in books, blogs, magazines etc.

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

Not Flash per se, but regarding programming, I learned the C (programming) language at university as a compulsory subject.

After that I became interested in programming and on my own played around with Lingo and used Java.

I think once you understand the basic way of thinking in programming, the other languages are not really all that different. Like doing API and other simple checks.

For example, Java and VisualBasic are completely different languages, but the API design is very


With respect to design: I worked part-time at a production company while I was a student, and after that did practical study.

I also created a slew of works on my own site. Now, we create whatever imagery we need for work ourselves, for example, on a recent car project, we made four 2-plus-minute movies.

Reflected images of cars and things was the main feature, which was really touch, but hey...

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

I don't think I bought anything last week. My most recent pricey purchase was a vocal effects processor.

We started a band at the office. And while we only have 2 original songs at the moment, we plan to start doing some live gigs after the New Year.

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

I'm a casual dresser. T-shirts and stuff. Today I'm wearing a Levi's sweatshirt.

There are lots of labels I like, but I'm not married to any. I give the shops a quick scan, and if there's something I want, I buy it, regardless of the label.

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