Being on FWA is the best thing that can happen to your website. I had the ladies emailing me e-panties.
Please give us a brief bio of yourself.
I was born February 22, 1983 and grew up in a town just north of Indianapolis, Indiana. I received a BS in computer graphics technology at Purdue University and moved away from the exciting Midwest last year to become a Flash commando at AKQA San Francisco.
I began web development in high school - html, graphic design, and Flash animation (rotating squares and blinking text) for bands. I started server-side scripting, database design, and Actionscript around 4 years ago and I've been tweening like a banshee ever since.
Aside from work, I have a Jack Russell named Bailey, a Macbook Pro, and I play a Fender Precision bass.
The coolest things in the universe are adventures, making things, and Mariokart.
You can see my work at johnnyslack.com.
What do you do for inspiration?
I love the outdoors, traveling, and taking pictures. Seeing and visiting new places is a huge source of inspiration.
Music is a big part of my life as well – listening and recording. I love my Tascam 4-track.
There is also nothing better for new ideas than a really long shower. I may spend months at a time in the shower before starting a project.
Please list 3 of your favourite sites.
I love sites that push inventive, but super usable navigation like http://www.thibaud.be/
Get the Glass - an amazing execution. One of the few times I've spent 30 minutes on a website designed to sell me something. Skim, 2%, whole...I love milk.
Gmail - I love my Gmail.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
I think making a living out of something I enjoy is a huge achievement. Although, I want to do much much more. We'll see where this path takes me.
What software couldn't you live without?
Itunes and Bad News Baseball for regular Nintendo. Oh yea… and the software that lives in my microwave.
What projects do you have in the pipeline?
A few independent projects that will hopefully help prove Flash and Web 2.0 are the best things to happen to learning since overhead projectors.
Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?
I've always admired AKQA and that's why I joined the team. It's great to be around super talented people responsible for a lot of awesome work.
I also admire North Kingdom and group94 for obvious reasons. I think they are both consistently outdoing themselves.
What effect on traffic do your new designs have?
Crazy traffic. Being on FWA is the best thing that can happen to your website. I had the ladies emailing me e-panties.
Who is your target audience?
Other developers/designers, as well as anyone that finds any inspiration from the work I have done. I love getting emails from visitors who enjoy my travel photography.
What area of web design lacks the most?
I think there are still a lot of over-the-top experiences with little substance and regard for the user.
I like to have control over a digital experience as much as possible. It's one of the reasons this medium is so special. I'll usually leave a site when I feel it has left me behind. If I wanted something shoved down my throat, I'd watch television.
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
It was for a band I was in during high school. It had a sweet Flash intro with a fake load bar and garbled .wav sounds. It was so awesome - too bad it's not online.
Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?
I'd like to write a book - but it wouldn't be about Flash. That could be painful, really. I'm not quite sure what it would be about, but hopefully it would include spies and spaceships.
What was the toughest thing you ever did with Flash? How long did you spend on it? Is it still online?
Probably a flash-based isometric drawing program. It allowed you to create mechanical drawings on a snapping, scalable grid.
There was a pretty cool feature that compared two drawings and graded the paths. The first version had a few CAD-like features like trim and extend. The prototype isn't online anymore.
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
I think it's been around long enough to say that. But I imagine it will keep evolving heavily as video marries interactive.
When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?
I don't have a startup just yet, but I would be prepared to do the best work I've ever done for the least money I've ever done it for.
What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?
School isn't a requirement, that's for sure. But it's perfect for discipline and refinement.
Purdue gave more of a backbone to what I do. It's important to learn the fundamentals of visual communication and what is key to making information delivery pretty.
Whether you're telling a story, designing an interface, or developing a menu, it's all about well-engineered information.
How have you learned so many Flash/design skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?
How did I learn Flash? That's easy. Endless and sleepless nights banging my face against the keyboard.
I think it's almost a requirement to have an obsession for solving problems and never giving up.
As far as resources, Google. I learn as I go and always found examples on the internet to be much more valuable than text. I only own one Flash book and I never made it past the 2nd chapter. I'm terrible about remembering what I've read.
As far as techniques for beginners, come up with something you're super excited about and never quit until you've created it. Then repeat.
You know you're close when you haven't shaved in two weeks and you don't have any clean underwear.
And if you really want to get creative, try taking away your own chair for a few minutes every time you have a compile error. Nothing aids learning like good old-fashioned punishment.
What is the most expensive thing you've bought in the last week?
Probably my cable bill. When is google going to fix that?
What type of overcoat do you wear when Flashing, basically are you a labels man?
I'm definitely not a labels man. I do prefer a black hoodie and argyle socks though. Hyper color shirts are pretty cool too. They were the future.
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
Anyone, willing, can be creative. The word creative is not exclusive (or a noun, seriously).
It's been a privilege, thanks very much.