It's very amazing and frightening at the same time to see just how many people have visited the site from around the world. I must admit that I didn't realize just how huge the percentage of traffic the FWA pulls.
Please give us a brief bio of yourselves.
Craig:I'm the founder and sometimes creative director, sometimes design lackey of SectionSeven Inc. A small collective of developer(s) and designer(s) who sometimes like to work together - for usually no other reason than we really enjoy the creative process and end result of our labours.
I've spent time at design firms, corporate design departments, and advertising agencies.. blah blah blah...
Jason:By day: developer drone at large software company banging out the next version X of some "important" product. By night: developer geek sweating the small stuff on a new site.
Going further back, an avid game developer working on a range of games including Quake, RtCW, Enemy Territory, Hexic, and MSN Messenger games. In ancient history times, I have degrees in both Electrical and Computer Engineering. Oh, and I'm married with four kids.
What do you do for inspiration?
Craig:Observe, Photography (it really makes you appreciate the details of a moment), Listen to music, pace, procrastinate, take a shower, look a pretty things etc... Sometimes though, inspiration just seems to materialize out of thin air with a mind of it's own.
Jason:Staying involved with other forms of media (movies, television, print, gaming) helps a lot to give ideas on current trends and how they can be applied in the interactive space. Many times, a small tweak or deviation to a "standard" approach can inspire a whole new approach or flurry of ideas for problems we run into at any stage of our development process (concept, prototype, production).
Simply KNOWING there is always a better or more novel approach to any task gives inspiration in the sense that "at some point X, we will have nailed this problem". Of course, it is never easy and much foul language occurs before "point X" is reach in most cases.
Please list 3 of your favourite sites.
Craig:Hmm... I'm assuming favorite means most visited on a daily basis? Probably:
Wikipedia (I've relearned history from completely untrustworthy sources), Autoweek (secret car designer groupie) and of course the FWA *wink*.
Jason:Andre Michelle's blog (for his pure no-nonsense development approach) Google (the ultimate resource for all things technical) SOTD sites (for keeping a pulse on the community, it's just too freaking large for one site to track)
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
Craig:Not being a complete ass-hat and steadily becoming a decent human being, which falls in line with becoming a father. Leaving my day job and running SectionSeven fulltime was a pretty big achievement as well.
Jason:Because I tend to build up my techniques and tools from project to project, I always feel like the last project I finish is representative of my best work. Currently, that's http://www.sectionseven.com :)
What software couldn't you live without?
Craig:Rhino 3D, Illustrator/Photoshop, and Flash.
Jason:Flash, Dev Studio, and IE.
What projects do you have in the pipeline?
Craig:A few prototype/interface projects for a large northwest software company, A photographer's website, an architects website, and a bunch of personal endeavors including a storefront.
Tool development - We'll probably try to publish some of the work, as we're building some COM components to allow for breaking outside of Flash's sandbox for easier prototyping, debugging, and development.
Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?
Craig:Since I'm most familiar with the output of interactive design companies I'd have to say the ones whose products I most admire are: THA LTD, Group94, and North Kingdom.
I find myself able to recognize the quality and imagination of their work before even knowing that they might have made the site.
What effect on traffic do your new designs have?
Craig:My friend made me plug into Google Analytics; otherwise I would be clueless to answer this question. It's very amazing and frightening at the same time to see just how many people have visited the site from around the world.
It's a guilty feeling, and part of me finds it easier to not look at the traffic stats and just be satisfied with the process and end result itself. I must admit that I didn't realize just how huge the percentage of traffic the FWA pulls.
Who is your target audience?
Craig:Anybody who will be open minded and willing to give us a few minutes of there time to share our passions, mistakes, and products with.
What area of web design lacks the most?
Craig:Organization, Explorative Interactivity, and Quality. I'd like to see more experiences with a clear organizational hierarchy of content and incorporated visual systems.
It would be great to get better quality experiences of non-corporate self-researched content presented in explorative or highly interactive ways. There are so many talented artists with work on the web, I just can't help but imagine what it would be like to build experiences that would amplify their work and personalities.
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
Craig:My first site was a nicely formatted single page scrollable website, which seems to be the hot trend right now (If I could have predicted this I would never have taken it down and saved myself endless years of labor).
Jason:I got snookered into doing a new update for sectionseven.com a few years ago. It had this cool film flip effect with a high-wire menu that scrolled across multiple screens. It's offline now, but we have a few snapshots of it in our portfolio on the current version of the site.
Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?
Craig:We are slowly putting together our own portfolio book for print and limited distribution, which will be a direct physical reflection of the website. It's a black sleeve/box containing 10 sub projects (surprise).
There is such a large percentage of work most of which is not even presented online to fill it with. I'll send it to press if we ever have a large chunk of surplus cash.
What was the toughest thing you ever did with Flash? How long did you spend on it? Is it still online?
Craig:Trying to develop one of my own sites before meeting friend and co-founder Jason - who I must say is an incredibly talented programmer.
Jason:I made a interesting video buffering system under flash for a real-estate marketing company, but its offline at the moment. The perspective texture mapping engine I put together on the current SectionSeven was no small task either ;)
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
Craig:I hope so. I'd think the web would be a pretty miserable place without it. We've messed around with other technologies, but so far not many of them provide the same unique space for designers and programmers to mutually work as quickly and efficiently in the same space.
If it isn't Flash in 20 years, it'll be Flash-like. The designer/developer environment is just too flexible to ignore.
What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?
Craig:Sure, why not? School is a great foundation, but I've met plenty of talented self-motivated designers that just didn't find the curriculums of academia very stimulating or necessary.
I'd say the willingness to learn is more important than where you learn.
When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?
Craig:Word of mouth, we still work this way today. We rarely take on any work from unknown parties without getting to know them on a semi-personal basis.
How have you learned so many Flash/design skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?
Craig:I've learnt a ton from working with a wide range of folks at many different places. My advice, don't burden yourself with a ton of material possessions so that you have to take a long term job that stifles your creativity.
Take a lot of short term jobs and work with a lot of people. Take time to explore and experiment outside of client work.
Jason:Lots of projects and experiments. The single easiest way to get up to speed is to decide on some REAL project to do and do it. Make Tic-Tac-Toe. Do a version of Minesweeper. Of course, all my projects are development-related, but it applies equally in all fields: you need to be able to quantify your work to evaluate some level of success/failure.
What is the most expensive thing you've bought in the last week?
Craig:An intake manifold for a VW MK2 GTI
Jason:A plane ticket for my mother-in-law to fly out next week.
What type of overcoat do you wear when Flashing, basically are you labels men?
Craig:I try to stay away from coats made from dead animal parts or made by sweating children.
Jason:I always forget and leave my coat at home.
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
Craig:Do what you love and love what you do - consider yourself lucky that you get to do something that you enjoy.
It's been a privilege, thanks very much.
Craig:No problem - my pleasure, Thank you!