Understand that there is no problem out there that you can't "think" your way through. Picasso didn't jump out of the womb creating amazing work, he became who he was by being a smart-ass individual that applied himself.
Please give us a brief bio of yourself.
Under the creative direction of Carlos R. Perez I lead the interactive at Elastic People. I'm a jock turned design-geek turned urban professional.
I live in South Beach with a social network around the world. On a given day you can find me playing beach-volleyball or jamming on my powerbook at any one of the patio restaurants on Lincoln Rd.
My goals in life are to be a leader in my industry, grow the Elastic People interactive department and father amazing children.
What do you do for inspiration?
Television is a massive source of inspiration, big budget commercials, MTV, SPIKE, any network that invests heavily in motion design and visual presentation.
I'm not one of these designers that go for a walk in the woods and meditates to get inspired, I look at the level that I want to rival and I pull ideas from there.
Please list 3 of your favourite sites.
I appreciate sites that are as close as possible to interactive television commercials.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
Having my first year of tuition paid for by a combined Art scholarship and Basketball scholarship at Sheridan, a school renowned for its Art and Sports programs made me feel like quite a balanced young man.
In my career, harnessing Actionscript to a degree that all interactivity and animation on my sites are 100% scripted. Given the fact that I spent most math classes sketching wolverine, it proves that a task that was once uninteresting can become fun if it has a definite purpose.
What software couldn't you live without?
Graphically... Photoshop, Flash, After Effects and Maya. AE and Maya allow me to tap into design and motion possibilities that can't be achieved with PS and Flash alone.
If you're solid with your 3d you can visually build anything you can think of from scratch, that's a very powerful weapon I can't imagine not having in my arsenal.
What projects do you have in the pipeline?
I'll be working on a site for the movie "Talento de Barrio" shortly, anytime I'm given a bundle of well art directed images and video to start off with, good things happen.
Even more exciting than that is the new Elastic People site that I've re-designed about 3 times in the last year-and-a-half... there's a big chance this latest version, along with work people haven't seen from us... will blow your mind.
Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?
Just to name a few... I think Elastic People is the hottest company that you either haven't heard of or haven't been paying that much attention to. That is due largely to the fact that prior to my joining in 2005 Elastic farmed out their interactive work and weren't credited for the creative nor did they have a strong on-line presence.
Now I'm on board and all of our interactive is done in-house and very soon you will see a complete archive of our extensive portfolio ranging from print & packaging to photography & music videos, most of which have never before been available for on-line public viewing.
I joined EP because I was able to align my personal goals with those of the company, they had superstar creative and a hole needing to be filled in the interactive department... instead of becoming one cog in the very large wheel of a popular agency I chose to get in on the ground floor of this exciting situation.
What effect on traffic do your new designs have?
They tend to blow up entire servers. I feel the best way to ensure your site lists high on google rankings beyond all the SEO functionality that you can provide is to make sure it's worth sharing.
The more hits it gets the higher ranked it gets.
At Elastic our sites tend to be one portion of a balanced campaign that gets marketed heavily through print and television, so I would say viral-marketing is how our sites generate traffic and rank high in search engines.
Who is your target audience?
All those that share a passion or interest for interactive design. Whoever is the target demographic of the product, event or artist we're promoting.
Attractive, intelligent females that appreciate well designed sites and want to get to know the guy that produced them in order to full-fill his every desire and possibly produce his children.
What area of web design lacks the most?
Any aspect of interactive that could bring it closer to television. I'd like to see non-informational sites look less like a grid and more like a studio set.
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
Yup, I was young and very self-absorbed.
Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?
I don't have any books but I did just begin my own weblog which is on a similar vibe.
I feel like I'm at a point in my career where I have more to contribute to the design community than simply a listing of my previous work and I'll be scribbling down all my notes and musings on design and culture there.
What was the toughest thing you ever did with Flash? How long did you spend on it? Is it still online?
I try to find a challenge with each major project I do, for instance the most recent site daddyyankee.com, my mission was to incorporate FLV animation produced in After Effects for the builds and transitions to give the motion a television/broadcast feel.
That was tough in the way that I was on a deadline and it became a challenge to control the interactivity between so many separately loaded FLVs.
Down the road I intend to produce a site that is entirely in 3d, all interface and graphical elements... not in a cheesy obvious way more in a way that you can't really tell except when the site is 'moving'. That will be an enjoyable challenge.
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
It better be, my every thought and motive in life is somehow related to it.
What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?
It's hard for me to imagine a better foundation for interactive and animated media other than illustration.
It teaches you composition, design, visual problem-solving, how to think creatively (yes that can be learned), everything.
If you become a good illustrator all design, interactive and animation skills will come naturally.
Having said that, I think the level of ability an individual achieves in design related studies is a direct reflection of their intelligence combined with desire.
If you go to school and all you do are assigned projects and your main focus is how good your grades are, you're not getting the most out of the experience.
If your goal is to become the best you can be then you'll likely be learning constantly in ways that have very little to do with the curriculum.
When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?
It wasn't until 2004 when I invested some serious thought into my portfolio site of the time, that I started getting calls from some of the big boys (Crispin Porter, Fantasy-Interactive, 2Advanced), which eventually led to giving up the freelance game and moving to Miami to join Elastic.
I was fortunate that I learned at an early age to apply myself and finish what I started no-matter-what. I think the portfolio got clients in the door and my ability to communicate contributed to referrals and repeat clients.
How have you learned so many Flash/design skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?
I can offer tons of advice at this point in my career. I'm an interactive designer 100% of the time, I may not be designing all the time but it guides my every decision.
If I could give a small amount of advice simply for the sake of this interview it would be to make your career goal to "be the best you can be", money, acclaim, everything else will come to you through that so you don't need to focus on them specifically.
Understand that there is no problem out there that you can't "think" your way through. Picasso didn't jump out of the womb creating amazing work he became who he was by being a smart-ass individual that applied himself.
What is the most expensive thing you've bought in the last week?
Wacom Intuos tablet, haven't had one since college and I don't know why I waited this long to pick a new one up.
What type of overcoat do you wear when Flashing, basically are you a labels man?
Mix and match. I keep it simple, under-stated and focus on the details; clean white t-shirt & new jeans that fit perfectly then I express myself through my watch, sunglasses, shoes, belt... items like that.
I like to socialize and network so I'm accustomed to being judged heavily on my appearance... if you dress too loud you just look like you need a hug.
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
Don't underestimate the impact a healthy lifestyle will have on your work and career.
You have more energy, you focus better and are motivated to be your best.
To this day I attribute my work ethic and winning attitude to my involvement with athletics as a youth. Make your health your top priority in life and those other things that were your top priorities will take care of themselves.
It's been a privilege, thanks very much.
When I am master of the universe I will recall these kind words and reward you handsomely.