I prefer it when my ideas could be instantly realized than to wait for years to design and build things.
Please give us a brief bio of yourself.
I was born in Seoul, Korea, and studied architecture at college. I chose my major because I’ve always thought an architect’s life would be cool and extraordinary (A female star in a movie ‘There’s something special about Mary’ idolizes architects too).
When I started studying architecture, I found it academically very intriguing; yet in reality, there was little I could do by myself, which was fairly frustrating.
I’m inclined to think and make up things by myself in my own place than to work with other people. Also I prefer it when my ideas could be instantly realized than to wait for years to design and build things.
Then, the Internet era came, along with a new computer program called ‘Flash’, which turned out to be such a versatile tool that could fulfill my desires. I got deeper and deeper into this new world, and from 2002, I started my career as a commercial web designer.
In one year, I got tired of working for a company, so I opened my own web studio, d.o.E.S, with my colleagues, and have held a position as the creative director since then.
What do you do for inspiration?
Actually, it’s one of the most frequent questions I get, but I can never come up with any ingenious answer. I get inspiration from everything around me: books, music, movies, music videos, animation, paintings, etc. Creative culture and art are everywhere, and many of them are only a click-away through the Internet.
Please list 3 of your favourite sites.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
When we started business, we submitted our portfolios to a number of advertisement competitions to promote ourselves. We were also keen to know if we’d be acknowledged. Receiving prestigious awards from Cannes, New York, Clio, London competitions during 2005 and 2006 was a rewarding experience.
What software couldn't you live without?
I’m tempted to say ‘Flash’ considering this is about FWA (Favorite Website Award), and I actually like the program very much; yet if I should choose one, I’d say ‘Photoshop’, which is like a genesis for web designs.
Who is your target audience?
By age group, our designs aim at people aged between 19 and 25. We didn’t arbitrarily pick this group, but the Internet marketing surveys show that they are the age groups that explore websites most vigorously.
We usually produce all-flash websites rather than more plain html websites, and young people welcome its glitzy images and interactive navigation with enthusiasm. Even my parents (they’ve been using Internet for about a year) are not so familiar with where to click on the website; although they know the hand-shape on the screen means it can be clicked.
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
My first website was really crude. Of course, at that time, I was proud of it, and I even got A grade in my class project. But now I’d rather forget it. I hid it somewhere it’s unlikely to be found. No, it’s not online. It’s too embarrassing.
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
That’s a difficult question. In our company, we occasionally joke about our works vanishing one day. If you ask me, I think it won’t disappear, but rather evolve into other forms. Personally, I hope Flash stays around for a long time; it’s quite frustrating to learn ever-changing new computer tools.
What are your views on design/graphic school? Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?
Although there are certain similarities between architecture and web design, I’m the very example of getting into the field without relevant college education, so it’s hard to be 0bjective.
Generally, it’s ideal to go through regular design education first then get into the field. Yet I think it’s OK for those people to get into the design field that studied by themselves or studied something else.
As I’ve recruited many people so far, I think that it really depends on each individual. If someone has talent and fervor, he or she will make efforts and achieve better outcomes regardless of what they studied before.
Likewise, if somebody lacks those virtues, it’s hard to work with them even though they got highest grades in best design schools. I’ve seen many resumes where people submitted sub-standard portfolios even though they studied design. It’s really case by case.
How have you learned so many Flash/design skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?
I acquired basic skills through self-study and seminars. With so many design books in the market, it’s not hard to study by oneself. However, it’s easier to acquire other people’s knowledge when you go listen to lectures, and it can save much time.
Also, you really learn a lot as you actually apply what you learn, so I advise people to plunge into real practice, rather than spending too much time reading manuals.
What is the most expensive thing you've bought in the last week?
An international design magazine. It’s not officially imported, and it’s very costly. So I’m ordering it from Amazon, and it’s unfortunate I can’t leaf through it before I buy it.
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
I wish everyone to be happy in the new year.
It's been a privilege, thanks very much.
This one was quite challenging. Thanks for asking.