When you're out at night having some beers, we're in the office ploughing away at flash. It doesn't mean were not drinking beer while we're flashing but we have a goal to be the best and that's not easy.
Please give us a brief bio on yourself.
At around 12 years old I started my career in advertising although back then I didn't call it that exactly.
To me it was called graffiti. Writing my name on as many walls as I could. Getting my alias "Nemo" known by all graffiti writers was my goal.
With my partner in crime "Blur" (Who is an Sr Art Director at ichameleon now) we painted the city streets with the coolest things we could dream up. It was then that I fell in love with the idea of branding something and making it famous.
When the time came for me to go to university there were not any majors in graffiti so I decided to study graphic design. Mixing letters and pictures kind of sounded like graffiti to me so I signed up.
I began my career at a small ad agency in Miami which handled traditional print and direct marketing materials. I started as a pre-press operator and built my way up to asst. art director in two years.
I was responsible for designing catalogues for Avon, Royal Caribbean, and Victoria's Secret.
At that time I got a call from Freddie Laker jr. (business partner/ best friend) he asked me if I had ever considered designing websites. The idea of having my work available for millions of people to view sounded a lot like graffiti to me so I was sold from day one.
It was there that I discovered the works of Joshua Davis, Eric Natzke, and Yugo Nakamura.
Seeing what they did with flash made me want to learn it. I was already a decent designer/art director at the time, but I wanted the ability to make my designs live and breathe. Flash was able to fill that void.
After working with LakerNet I was offered a position to start the interactive department at Crispin Porter + Bogusky. They hired me as Lead Flash Developer/Art Director. There I worked with many amazing brands and did some fantastic work with my mentor Jeff Benjamin.
After a couple years working 140 hour weeks trying to be an ad rock star and a father of a 9 year old it became increasingly difficult to handle both.
Mr. Freddie Laker Jr gave me another call at that time and offered me a partnership in his newest endeavor ichameleon/group/. It was there that I met the most amazing, talented, and passionate team I had ever met.
A bunch of young guys who were so hungry they rivaled the work ethics of Crispin. On the day I joined we had 8 employees.
Today we have a little over 60 employees and three offices in three cities.
Our goal is to follow in the footsteps of AKQA and RGA and become a full service digital agency.
What do you do for inspiration?
Pretty much anything and everything. I think sometimes you can find inspiration in the strangest places.
So the one thing I have learned is keep your eyes open, because you never know when that epiphany might strike.
If you're always listening and looking, you'll be sure not to miss it.
Strangely enough, the best ideas always hit me when I am in the shower!
Please list your three favorite sites.
Wow, I don't know if I can only list three! I look at the web every day and am always finding things that I love.
So instead of my favorites I will just say these are sites I have seen in the last few months that I actually went through and didn't leave within a few seconds.
tbwahakuhodo.co.jp (saw this today)
clearification.com (Very funny and simple)
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
Raising a 9 year old rambunctious boy and helping to establish ichameleon to what it is today. I am so proud of being a part of the team I am in and I believe they are proud of it too.
We are all one big family so much that my son treats our employees like they were his uncles and aunts. It takes a special recipe to make that happen and that definitely makes me proudest.
What software couldn't you live without?
Very close tie between Photoshop and Flash. Need them both in my life on a daily basis.
What projects do you have in the pipeline?
Have some really cool new stuff in the pipeline for NBC and GUINNESS but its top secret. FWA will be the first to get the link after the client. Hopefully it gets through the rigorous judging panel.
What do you rate as being the top three design companies?
AMV BBDO, Goodby, CP+B, AKQA
What effect on traffic do your new designs have?
Traffic is probably just as important to me as making an amazing website.
It's sad to say that you can make the coolest thing you have ever done, but it falls on deaf ears.
Plus in clients' eyes they came to you for that traffic just as much as they came for the great work.
So it should always be something that is thought about from day one.
How do we get people to see this? You can't use that 'build it and they will come' mentality.
Although there are plenty of examples like subservient chicken that just took off with no media push but you can't rely on that. You have to give your work the best chance of getting out there.
Who is your target audience?
We deal with all kinds of demographics, but I must say our favorite is the young influencer types.
What area of web design lacks the most?
The fact that programmers are not treated like creatives. I feel that programmers are just as creative as designers they just use a different paintbrush. I think the day we can bridge the gaps between creative and programming there will be no limit to what can be accomplished.
What did your very first site look like and is it still on line?
Well my first flash site was http://nemo.laker.net. I created it after coming back from flash forward in 2000.
I came back with so much inspiration that I took a week off of work just to create my first flash site. It was a portfolio site that displayed all of my graffiti and graphic design work as well as my early flash experiments.
And, no sadly it is still not online. However I do look at it from my backup drive every now and again.
Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?
No but I would love too.
What was the toughest thing you ever did with flash? How long did you spend with it? Is it still online?
Taco Bell 'Fourthmeal'. We spent two months plowing away at flash media server, learning it as we went along.
It was a humbling experience to say the least.
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
No doubt in my mind, and I am doing my part to make sure of it.
What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience?
Schooling can never be bad, but I am a self taught flash programmer and feel that I am very good at it.
So no, you don't need it but it helps. If not, you end up like I did, realizing that you were doing calculus in your scripts yet never knowing until meeting a formally trained math wiz like our own Rob Gonda, who schooled me on derivatives.
When your company was just getting started, what did you find was the most effective for getting new clients?
Showing clients that we were more passionate about their work then they could ever be.
To us it's just as important as it is to them. After all, our work is our reputation, and we take it seriously. We are not here for the money, we are here to make the best work we possibly can.
How have you learned so many Flash/design skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?
In the early days it was sites like flashkit that helped me to learn.
Finding cool scripts taking them apart and rebuilding them. I learned quite a lot that way, but it wasn't until I met our Sr Flash Developer at ichameleon, Jason Miller that I would say I truly had a grasp on proper action script practices.
Once we met, we took my knowledge of math and logic mixed with Jason's expertise of 0bject Oriented Programming and his ability to problem solve, all together that made one great programmer, like Voltron.
Now we have a bunch of amazing guys that all share that same passion which is truly the best.
There is nothing like having a group of guys who love flash in a room cracking away at something.
So my advice is to get a partner that you can learn from and you'll be leaping tall buildings in no time.
What is the most expensive thing you have bought in the last week.
$200 bottle of wine for a client… thank god for expenses!
What type of overcoat do you wear when Flashing, basically are you a labels man?
No, if it looks good I buy regardless of label. However I do own a Ted baker suit.. so maybe just a little.
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
Whatever you do don't ever give up. There are a million hungry people out there trying to make it.
When you're out at night having some beers, we're in the office ploughing away at flash. It doesn't mean were not drinking beer while were flashing but we have a goal to be the best and that's not easy.
So if you have the same goal don't stop believing in yourself because ambition will get a good portion of the way.