.

For me getting atmosphere and heart into any work I do is paramount, I'm not interested in straight information delivery but communicating on an emotional level.

  Please give us a brief bio of yourself.

My name is Suzie Webb (no I've not changed my name because I'm a web designer) and I'm a British interactive designer and artist.

I live and work in Manchester in the UK and I am Creative Director at magneticNorth where I've worked for the past six years.

Before embarking upon a career in Interactive Design I trained in Fine Art and did a post grad in multimedia. You can see that I'm from an art background in my design approach as it is a fusion of what you might call 'analogue' art practice and digital jiggery pokery.

Currently I spend my time working on ideas, and doing design and direction. I've also managed to accrue some nice shiny awards and press coverage for my work over the last 8 years... which is always reassuring.

  What do you do for inspiration?

I never really go looking for inspiration, it just happens. Sometimes I happen upon things that make me cry over their beauty but mostly it's just being alive that's inspiring.

Look up, look down, look all around (blah blah blah). I also believe that inspiration doesn't always come from seeing the good things in the world but seeing the bad and wanting to change that.

Paradoxically anger and frustration is often a great point of inspiration.

Other than that some notable designers and artists that have inspired me (in no particular order) are Jeff Koons, David Shrigley, Wefail, Derraindrop, Oculart, Chiho Aoshima, Roger Dean and Hort.

I particularly love what might be described as 'outsider' art and design, I'm not one for rules or codes of practice, to me it's the people who have disregarded convention, whether that be an industry convention or an artistic convention to try and talk with a certain honesty and humanity that inspire me.

Great ideas help too!

  Please list 3 of your favourite sites.

www.supernaturale.com

A brilliant site about contemporary crafts, they like to mix technology with knitting... which I'm always down with.

bldgblog.blogspot.com

Fascinating blog about the built environment whose strapline is 'architectural conjecture, urban speculation and landscape futures'. Oooooooh clever!

www.myspace.com

Yes I know it's owned by a corporation, it runs likes a dog and it's a great big huge popularity contest but I find the phenomenon of myspace fascinating. From my perspective as a visual artist seeing how people represent themselves is endlessly entertaining... the extreme democracy of design here is what excites me.

  What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?

The fact that I make a living out of doing what I love, that I didn't acquiese.

I'm also pretty happy with the recent work we've just done for Diesel

For this site I wanted something made in Flash to look really beautiful and filmic (like the scene in Great Expectations where the jilted and aged Miss Havisham sits in her wedding dress covered in cobwebs) and for once I think I've managed to achieve that.

For me getting atmosphere and heart into any work I do is paramount, I'm not interested in straight information delivery but communicating on an emotional level.

  What software couldn't you live without?

If all software ceased to exist I'm pretty sure I would continue living but to indulge this idea for a moment it would be Photoshop and Flash. There's no other apps to namecheck here to make me look artificially cool.

  What projects do you have in the pipeline?

A whole new overhaul of my own site www.suziewebb.co.uk

At the moment it's a deliberately lo-fi portfolio site with my art and design work on, I was so bored of making bells and whistles sites that I didn't even bother changing the links from default blue.

I'm going to turn it into something a lot more insightful and sell prints of my work here too.

Meanwhile over at magneticNorth our new site is in development and it's something totally different from the studio portfolio, it gives a unique view into the inner workings of the place and that's all I can say at this point.

Other than that I've been asked to design the identity and artwork for a Norwegian record label called Luna Flicks. They are a bunch of incredibly talented musicians based in Oslo who have said de vil ha meg som deres egen Peter Saville, and I quite understandably said yes!

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

Hi-res, Wefail and Hort can't be ignored.

  What effect on traffic do your new designs have?

Loads and loads (ha ha).

Actually I do presume loads or I'm probably barking up the wrong tree with this web design business.

  Who is your target audience?

I'm not sure, but I do like to target huge audiences... massive unwieldy global audiences that are prone to fickle and inexplicable behaviour.

  What area of web design lacks the most?

I think that there is a misunderstanding of what the web 'should' be.

Personally I don't think that it 'should' be any one thing; for example a lot of people think the web should be about information and ease of accessing that information and become very annoyed if everything on the web doesn't fit that idea.

Yet there's enough room on the web for both information led design and more experiential emotive design.

As long as web designers use common sense we can have the Ebays of the world sitting quite happily next to the Requiems for a Dream without usability experts foaming at the mouth and people whining about how 'awful' web design is.

It's just different ways of communicating, we wouldn't allow television programmes to only be broadcast in the news information format so why should web sites. Web design needs to keep agile and be the best for its specific aim without becoming beholden to any one dogma.

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

I did some awful rubbish for a tool hire company, it's lost in the ether somewhere, luckily.

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

I've not. I've written articles and comment here and there for various publications, the last thing I wrote was for a Sheffield fanzine called GO SHEFFO!

It was their gay issue and my piece was entitled: 'Top Ten Homo Erotica That No One Thinks Is, But Is!'.

I would love to write a book but even small articles seem too time consuming at the moment.

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

Every project I seem to undertake is the toughest thing I've ever attempted in Flash. I don't do the coding side but I'm always trying to push Flash visually.

  Do you think Flash is here to stay?

I think so, it'll mutate but it still gives the most freedom for multimedia web design.

  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 that it's possible to get into this industry without formal training.

I didn't study design per se but art, in fact sculpture and I have used my instincts and my lack of formal design training to my advantage, as that which makes me unique.

The focus of art and design education here in the UK is weighted toward concept and self discovery, which is no bad thing and produces some highly unemployable but brilliant creative people, now all we need to do is find jobs for them and make sure British design continues to allow us some vestige of national pride.

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

When magneticNorth started it was a small, dedicated and talented team who made a conscious decision to cut through the bullshit of the advertising world.

I think clients found this refreshing and saw magneticNorth offering great interactive design coupled with honest communication.

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

My advice for people new to the software is to approach the learning process as if you were using a tool that you need to use to achieve some other aim.

Like mastering a drill because you want to put up a shelf or driving a car because you can't stand sitting in your parent's house a minute longer.

What I'm trying to say is learn whilst you attempt to make something you REALLY want to make, a website for a fiends band or an animation of your latest character designs, whatever... just join a forum and get a basics book and knuckle down until you achieve your goal.

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

A print of Peter Max's 1967 'Psychedelic Clouds'.

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

This week I have mostly been wearing outlandish furry jumpers, a small black dress, a hat that doubles as a tea cosy and the very exclusive label La Oxfam.

  Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?

Keep it carpet and never pretend to be anyone other than yourself.

Oh and this one that I've always loved: Yo Better Check Yo'self Before Yo Wreck Yo'self. peace out

  It's been a privilege, thanks very much.


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