.

I've seen designers with a master's degree in design with the most jaw-droppingly appalling work. And I've seen (and hired) self-taught designers (with degrees in some obscure field) with fantastic work.

Please give us a brief bio of yourself.

Karen Huang, creative director at Manic, which I set up 8 years ago. Also baker, craftster, collector of all things pink and sometimes blogger.

What do you do for inspiration?

Playing with Ren, my Yorkshire terrier. The answer is always in her fur.

Please list 3 of your favourite sites.

These are from everyone at Manic:

1. lecielestbleu.com - Magical in 2002, oldie but still goodie today.

2. Red Interactive – we’re still trying to figure out how they did this website?!

3. I’m a Cyborg But That’s OK – fantastic art direction and attention to detail.

What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?

Being interviewed on FWA! Seriously, seeing Manic about to turn 8 is quite something.

What software couldn't you live without?

Type Explorer. And Outlook. And Safari. And Photoshop. And Illustrator. I can definitely live without Powerpoint.

What projects do you have in the pipeline?

We’re working on a campaign site for The Body Shop, as well as an extensive product website for Dilmah Tea, who have been our clients for almost 7 years now. Plus lots of F&B branding work.

Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?

We’ve always been big fans of Pentagram’s work. Interactive-wise, I’d have to say Firstborn and Domani

What effect on traffic do your new designs have?

When we’re lucky enough to win stuff for our work, traffic usually goes through the roof.

Who is your target audience?

Ideally, someone like me. But usually, it's the client's target audience.

What area of web design lacks the most?

I think it lacks the smarts. Sites with clever ideas don¹t come by all that often.

What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?

It will send you ROTFLYAO. It was for a pet shop and had an animated GIF of two dogs kissing with hearts emanating from their lips. That GIF took forever to load.

Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?

Nope, and no real plans, but I've toyed with the idea. Maybe to warm up, I could layout a book.

What was the toughest thing you ever did with Flash? How long did you spend on it? Is it still online?

The DP Architects website. 300 projects, 4-5 images for each, you get the picture. Lots of XML goobledegook as well. Our designers Ben and Yit Keong did all the hard work though and created a site we’re terribly proud of.

Do you think Flash is here to stay?

At the risk of looking stupid 5 years from now, I’d say yes. How Flash will be used will keep evolving, but it should be around for a while.

What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?

The only way for designers to be held in the same esteem as professions like doctors, lawyers and plumbers, is for designers to go through an education that is as rigorous as the rest of the professions.

It won't make you a good designer though.

I've seen designers with a master's degree in design with the most jaw-droppingly appalling work. And I've seen (and hired) self-taught designers (with degrees in some obscure field) with fantastic work. At the end of the day, it's the work that counts.

Having said that, I think that after practicing for a couple of years, a designer (schooled or unschooled) might benefit from some kind of further education.

When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?

Doing good work always gets you new clients. Sensible pricing when you’re just starting out helps as well.

What is the most expensive thing you've bought in the last week?

Another pink typewriter, my second.

Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?

You gotta have faith.


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