Fear is a great motivator. Like when you run out of time. Then suddenly you get an idea that only being under pressure gives you.
Please give us a brief bio of yourselves.
Jon:Stephen and I are one of the Creative Partner teams at Grip Limited. We're about 100 people now, nearly 20 of us are interactives.
We've had the good fortune of hiring some of the best people in the industry this year.
People are cross-disciplined here, or at least strive to be. So it makes for very interesting work. We challenge people to put the ideas first, then figure out how to voice them.
Specifically, I am the writer. Stephen is the art director. We've been working together as a team for over 4 years now. Before Grip, we were the senior creative team at henderson bas. I am older than Stephen. But you can't tell by looking.
Stephen:Actually you can tell. Jon has a liver spot on his left shoulder.
Jon:You can see that through my black turtleneck?
What do you do for inspiration?
Jon:Sometimes, it's the product itself. Take the site we did for the Acura RDX. The brief was simple: Make people remember it's a turbocharged engine. So we came up with the idea that the entire world was a turbo that revolved around the car. The effect turned out to be really interesting.
Stephen:Fear is a great motivator. Like when you run out of time. Then suddenly you get an idea that only being under pressure gives you. And that quite often is the one we end up selling.
Of course, we routinely look at Ad reels. We find that TV ads do a great job of crystalizing an idea. We do our best to have ideas/concepts for our interactive projects. Personally, I find the best sites have ideas. So we can learn a lot from "traditional" forms of advertising.
Jon:Yeah, too often sites put too much emphasis on the technology or the design. Both are important. But technology IS NOT an idea. Sorry.
Please list 3 of your favourite sites.
Stephen:I love www.makemeking.com. It's ridiculous. It puts me in touch with some of our target audiences. Talk about user-generated content. http://www.ikitesurf.com/. What can I say? I kiteboard and this site gives me accurate readouts of wind around the world. And www.newstoday.com for the usual industry riff-raff.
Jon:I like http://adverlab.blogspot.com/. Great content ahead of the curve, so to speak. This Benz site caught my eye. As a writer, the narrative spoke to me. And the design was cool. I also like how they divided the interface between rational (specs, etc.) and emotional (narrative).
And, of course, You Tube. I can find live videos of Peter Frampton from like 1976. I mean, c'mon. Oh yeah, www.AdCritic.com. I love the interviews.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
Stephen:Being the creative lead on a job and watching all the elements come together. For example, Jon and I worked on the majority of the elements to launch the Honda Fit in Canada. So we did the online, naturally. But we also produced the TV spot to go with it.
Jon:Me too. I think that's where the industry is going. More and more, interactive creatives are helping lead the charge. If you listen to what Jeff Goodby is saying, you'll see what I mean.
I also am extremely proud of the RDX site. We had no idea how to create it after we sold the concept. Thankfully, the client didn't know that.
We ended up using an amazing broadcast producer. She pulled on a lot of our post-production resources in town to help figure it out. I mean, the amount of post on that job was frightening. In fact, the neat part of that job was the production process was more akin to broadcast than web.
Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?
Stephen:Can I take it beyond web? I'd probably mention the usual suspects anyway.
Apple. The design of their products has made us rethink how and where we use technology. I love Starbucks, too. Consistent. Surprising. Delightful. Everything they do has such a nice organic feel. And Frank Gehry. I am actually watching his newest design being built (the Art Gallery of Ontario) right out my work window. Wow.
Jon:Ok, me too. How about Alfa Romeo? I love the design of their new cars. Especially the 8C. Nike. Their product and design makes the brand. We had a great insight into the level of detail when Stephen and I worked on the business a few years ago. And Herman Miller. Cliche, I know.
What effect on traffic do your new designs have?
Stephen:We try to do what we can in the designs to create reaction and response. Sometimes that's just great usability.
Other times, it's blending something Jon and I call "Motivational Design" -- kind of a synthesis of Direct Mail best practices and interactive cleverness. It's about being sensitive to the content, what the "consumer need" is, the media itself, and what exactly we want people to do when they interact.
Jon:That's not to say we think interactive is like DM at all. For us, DM can teach us a lot about how to get consumers to respond. Which, after all, is what all advertising is about. If our projects don't get people to do something -- go to a Honda/Acura dealership, buy some pretzels, ask for our client's brand of beer, then we've failed them.
Who is your target audience?
Jon:Depends on the job. We do a lot of automotive work, so that's like everyone old enough to drive. :-)
Stephen:What he said. The hard part is not confusing the target for ourselves. It's so easy to look at creative through our experience, not our target's. That can be deadly.
What area of web design lacks the most?
Stephen:Ideas. There is lots of great design out there. And some amazing Flash work. But if the site isn't rooted in a concept, it's not as powerful for me.
Jon:Exactly. The exceptional stuff we all love has ideas. I think clients need to be braver, too.
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
Stephen:www.Pinholespy.com. Not my first, but my first good memory.
Jon:One of the first ones I can remember was for Levi's Canada. Pretty experimental for the time in that it was entirely narrative-based. I worked with Flash guru Colin Moock on it when we were both at ICE back in 1997. Still sort of holds up today. Sort of. Colin likes it, it's still on his site.
Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?
Jon:I'd like to write a screenplay someday. But I doubt I'll ever get to it.
Stephen:I wrote a chapter of a book once. It was called "Simple Websites".
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
Jon and Stephentogether: We do.
Stephen:But it keeps evolving. And finding homes in new devices and applications. That's what's so cool.
What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?
Jon:School helps writers, I think. But in the end, if you have ideas and passion you can make it as a creative. You can learn the other stuff.
Stephen:Exactly. Photoshop can be learned. It's much harder to learn creativity. I think there is a mismatch between what schools teach and what clients want. Schools can teach the discipline. But courses will always be out of date because everything in our industry changes so fast.
When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?
Jon:We started after Grip was 2 years old. We came in to grow the interactive business. So we proactively showed clients ideas they couldn't live without. And, of course, demonstrated how it could drive the business.
Stephen:Being channel-neutral helps us here at Grip. Showing clients how the idea can live across the entire media mix -- without them having to use multiple vendors has helped us win new business.
What is the most expensive thing you've bought in the last week?
Jon:42" Plasma TV. I finally broke down.
Stephen:A dinner: 4 lobsters, 2 steaks, a case of my fav beer -- Brahma.
What type of overcoat do you wear when Flashing, basically are you labels men?
Jon:Stephen and I aren't big into fashion. So to take people's eyes off the drab jeans and T-shirts we wear, we both have beards. We think that takes the edge off.
In fact, evidently people in the agency have been known to call us the "Beardo Brothers". It's just a rumor though.
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
Jon:Don't eat lunch. It makes you sleepy.
Stephen:Have a big breakfast so you don't need to eat lunch.
It's been a privilege, thanks very much.
Jon:Thanks for asking us.