You can't go to the idea; the idea must come to you. Which is actually really annoying whilst you're waiting for it to show up, but always kind of magical when it finally arrives.

Please give us a brief bio of yourself.

Before the age of 10 or 11 I spent most of my time playing Elite and writing really bad text-based adventure games in BASIC (god bless the BBC Microcomputer).

Thereafter I became a bit obsessed with the Alien movies, decided I wanted to be Ridley Scott and/or James Cameron, and made a few short films.

Left school. Tossed a coin and studied German at university. Lived in Berlin for a while, where I shared a flat with a guy who had a massive Mac set-up and rediscovered my love of computers.

Worked as a runner on commercials and music videos after uni, whilst doing a part-time course in interactive media design at Central St Martins. Then I did a masters at Westminster where I studied under Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron of antirom fame (now I'm showing my age).

Got my start-up stripes at Pogo; sought unsatisfactory solace in the bosom of Uncle Walt for a couple of years; and then joined GT as a senior Flash designer in January 2005.

I'm now heading up their nascent hypermedia department, which specialises in rich media creative development across multiple platforms.

What do you do for inspiration?

Go to the loo. Walk around the block. Smoke a cigarette (sorry, mum). Anything but actively seek it out - that never works.

You can't go to the idea; the idea must come to you. Which is actually really annoying whilst you're waiting for it to show up, but always kind of magical when it finally arrives.

Please list 3 of your favourite sites.

Three sites I visit every day:

- We Make Money Not Art is a source of constant amazement.

- YouTube. Who would have thought that the alpha-and-omega of TV would arrive before the fabled celestial jukebox? Enjoy it while it lasts.

- And I'll admit to being unhealthily obsessed by Facebook. Poke me! I look like Hannibal from the A-Team.

What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?

Professionally speaking, I'd have to give mention to the Rhythm of Lines site that was featured on the FWBut then again, I was merely art director on that one, and relatively hands-off in terms of the actual production work.

It couldn't have been done without the involvement of others infinitely more talented than myself, in particular Odin Church on the design front, and creative developers Stephen Spencer & Simon Oliver, who worked behind the scenes.

In terms of hands-on work, I'm still very proud of an animated short called Beneath that I made for Audi a couple of years ago. It was a pleasure to take all the things I'd learnt at Disney and then turn them to the dark side.

Personally, and apologies now for the apparent slide into mawkishness, but I have to mention my son, Kipp. He puts it all into perspective :)

What software couldn't you live without?

This is where I'm supposed to give props to something like Flash or Photoshop, isn't it?

But truthfully? iTunes - sad but true. I love my music, and I'd be a mess without it.

What projects do you have in the pipeline?

I'm currently working on another little something for Audi - watch this space.

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

"Design" is such an elastic term these days, so hopefully you'll forgive me for cheating a little:

I've followed the work of Non-Format since they started art directing The Wire magazine. Everything they do makes me swoon. In terms of graphic design in the classical sense, no one touches them.

For digital campaign creative, I'd say Crispin Porter + Bogusky are pretty tough to beat. I admire the scale of their projects, and I think their largely platform-agnostic approach to advertising shows the way forward for the industry as a whole.

As for pure interaction design, Yugo Nakamura will always have a special place in my heart. Yugo, if you're reading: make more stuff!

What effect on traffic do your new designs have?


Enormous :)

Who is your target audience?

Anyone from 0 to 100+, depending on the project I'm working on at the time.

What area of web design lacks the most?

Generally? Longevity. To be sure, the fact that we are still, even after all these years, finding our feet is one of the things that gets me up in the morning.

But at the same time, I wonder how long we're going to have to wait before our answer to Josef Müller-Brockmann shows up.

Where Flash sites are concerned, I'd say: a reason to come back. Most are one-hit-wonders.

In fairness, I think that's got a lot to do with the commercial constraints in which we work. It costs a lot of money to create high quality content and experiences that can be drip-fed over a sustained period of time; and clients are often used to working in short promotion cycles before moving on to the next big thing.

That said, just as a point of professional pride, I'd love to have a reason to put more Flash sites in my lunchbox.

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

I think my first website was for a friend's arts charity called YaD Arts back in 1999. They're still going strong, and I still look after their site, but fatherhood has made me a very unreliable source of updates. Josephine, I'm sorry :(

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

Not books, but I've had several ideas on the boil for a number of years, in sweet anticipation of a time when we might get paid as much (if not more) for making an end in itself rather than a promotion for something else.

And all without the need for DRM ;)

Do you think Flash is here to stay?

I think there'll always be something that does what Flash does. Whether it's called Flash or is still made by Adobe is neither here nor there. I started out on Macromedia Director, so I'm pretty sanguine about these things :)

Right now, for Flash to maintain its edge, Adobe needs to continue extending the number of platforms that Flash can reach. Flash Lite is certainly a step in the right direction, but I think it's also significant that CS3 now gives you the ability to export even scripted animation as video. Flash is unlikely to ever challenge AfterEffects for the motion graphics crown, but I think we'll start to see Flashers working beyond their traditional boundaries.

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

The toughest thing I've ever done in Flash was to make a binoculars simulator, complete with motion blur and a real feeling of weight, for a Canon ad a couple of years ago.

It had to be Flash 6 to match the publisher specs, so I couldn't use any of the built-in Photoshop-style filters. It came out pretty sweet, even if I do say so myself, but it never ran because the site specs changed at the last minute, and there was no way I could get it down to below 20K ;)

To be honest, the hardest thing I've ever done personally was in Director. When I was at college, Mobiles Disco (a small-scale precursor to Habbo Hotel was busy blowing people's minds, and I really wanted to get my head around multi-user interaction.

So I built a chat room called (imaginatively) Bogchat by virtue of the fact it was set in a school lavatory. It was all very crude, with the conversational thread appearing in speech bubbles above the cubicles, and you could leave graffiti messages on the toilet wall for future visitors to read.

It caused me and my partner many long, dark nights, but it got a laugh during the final presentation. More than one, actually :)

Toilet humour is what makes Britain truly great, and we should never ever forget that.

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

Absolutely - I, and some of the best people I've ever worked with, have taken a fairly circuitous route into the industry. I think digital necessarily demands an unusually broad set of skills, interests and experiences.

That said, it's not easy, and it's not getting any easier. As the industry has matured, roles have become more rigidly defined. It's thought that this simplifies the production process and, to be fair, that's probably true.

However, it's noticeable that the best creative work is coming out of agencies like Hi-Res, AKQA, Big Spaceship and, of course, GT; all of whom have a rather more fluid understanding of the relationship between design, development and animation.

Unfortunately, I think that academic institutions have begun to reflect the typical industry set-up in their own course frameworks. As a result, it's becoming increasingly difficult to find people who fit the bill. What we need are more courses that support increasingly flexible working practices within the industry.

Yes, we need great designers who flunked all their maths and science classes. Yes, we need great developers who speak in nothing but 0s and 1s. But there are people out there who are effectively bilingual, and they need the support of everyone on both sides of the fence to flourish.

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

I've only been at GT a couple of years or so (and they've been around since 1994). Meanwhile, the first company I worked for went the way of all good start-ups, which is to say: bust.

So I'm not sure anyone would want my advice on this one ;)

How have you learned so many Flash/design skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?

Be a sponge :)

In your spare time, set yourself problems that you have absolutely no idea how to solve. Take it one step at a time, and make as many mistakes as possible along the way - the journey is nearly always the destination (sorry, but it's true).

Meanwhile, in the real world, get a production job with a high turnover of work. Churn out as much stuff as possible, but always try to find ways to keep yourself creatively amused - code your animation for a change, just to see what happens; give that PowerPoint presentation an indecent amount of spit and polish, in spite of the fact that no one's going to see it.

Remember that only you can make the job interesting. If the finished piece of work has been given any love at all, you will get noticed.

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

A tricycle for my boy's first birthday - £69.00 GBP

What type of overcoat do you wear when Flashing, basically are you a labels man?

I'm all fur-coat-and-no-knickers, me; this being my favoured outfit when working, Flash or otherwise.

(apologies to anyone who knows me personally and is now irreparably scarred by that particular mental image)

Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?

"Any attempt to give expression to the artistic ideals of the past can only ever result in a still birth."

It's been a privilege, thanks very much.

Ditto :)


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