At this point my biggest achievement is tied to a willingness to take risks in life.
Please give us a brief bio of yourself.
Based in southern California, I have worked under the moniker New Ezra in the interactive design industry for almost seven years.
Originally I am from Dallas, Texas where I established New Ezra as a freelance studio in 2001 working on a range of projects covering print and traditional advertising campaigns, as well as online interactive and exhibit design.
In late 2004 I was given the opportunity to set aside a growing studio in Dallas to work with 2Advanced Studios in California.
Over the last several years I have had the opportunity to work with many amazing clients such as Adobe, Capcom, Chevrolet, Disney, Electronic Arts, Ford, Lexus, Lucas Arts, Infiniti, Mattel, Motorola, Warner Brothers and the dozens of other amazing companies.
Currently I am a Senior Art Director at 2Advanced Studios working with an amazing team. My role helps to provide creative direction while bridging the gap between design and technology.
Always focusing on innovation, technology and interactive I’m able to utilize a broad skill-set spanning art direction, interactive design, motion design, and development to bring projects to life for 2Advanced’s clients.
In addition to pouring my time into interactive work I am in the process of combining my creative experience and my entrepreneur drive to develop several new side projects. The first two, Groove Roll and Gear Boost should launch early 2008.
What do you do for inspiration?
Of course I always find inspiration in what others are doing within the design industry, but the richest inspiration comes from taking time to get lost in a design and explore new styles. Through this design exploration process I always find new directions and inspirations that I apply to projects.
Other sources of inspiration in no particular order: new technology, evening surf sessions, clients who are passionate about their brand, playing the guitar, exploring an area I've never been to, photography, random music playlists, taking a shower, working in the quiet early morning hours, daydreaming, and spending time with family and friends.
Please list 3 of your favourite sites.
Behance Network - This new creative portfolio network branches out from the typical design network and has managed to draw in creatives from realms covering design, music, illustration, fashion, photography, furniture design, writing, textiles, and much more.
Josh Spear – Focusing on design, technology, new media, gadgets, and trend-spotting the Josh Spear blog has earned its way into my “visit daily” bookmark category.
Rhapsody - I am a music junkie so having a subscription to Rhapsody is a must. My taste in music is much too diverse to be able to purchase everything that I want to listen to.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
At this point my biggest achievement is tied to a willingness to take risks in life. Looking back to when I first went solo with New Ezra in 2001 it was a scary thought not relying on an employer to hand you a paycheck every other week.
I had many opportunities to settle with various companies as I gained experience, but I continued to hold out while risking it all. In 2004 again I took a risk to set my dream of a studio aside moving to California away from all family and friends for the opportunity to work with 2Advanced.
That risk has proved to be rewarding beyond what I could have imagined. I'm not completely certain what the next risk will be, but as history has proven it will be yet another great time of growth.
There is no way that I would be where I am today without my amazing wife Monica. It's a rare thing when you find someone that is there to encourage you every step of the way. I couldn't have done it without her support.
What software couldn't you live without?
Adobe CS3 Master Collection and Outlook
What projects do you have in the pipeline?
Currently I’m working on a project for Lucas Arts as well as a massive site for a major movie studio. It's good to be busy.
Beyond the projects at 2Advanced I am working on quite few personal projects. Groove Roll and Gear Boost being the largest that should launch early next year. Additionally I am working on setting up speaking engagements for 2008.
Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?
It's incredibly difficult to pin down the top 3 design companies especially since there so many companies out there producing solid work.
Right now I would have say that I have been impressed by the recent work coming from North Kingdom, Blitz, and Hi-Res
What effect on traffic do your new designs have?
Having a few extra servers ready at the time of launch is always a good idea...
Who is your target audience?
My target audience is the client's target audience. I personally enjoy really diving into the client's business to understand their overall needs and goals. Making a site that "looks pretty" no longer cuts it; you have to dive into the client's business.
From day to day and project to project the target audience is always changing.
What area of web design lacks the most?
In my opinion, many times the web design industry forgets to put solid ideas and concepts into the designs.
It's easy to get into the mode of doing the minimum to get the project out the door with a happy client. Sure the site might look nice, but in the end did it add value to their brand, entertain, sell a product, tell a story, relate to someone, or inspire?
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
The site was an amazing work of art created with Frontpage 97. I used the best default Photoshop 4 bevels I could find and referenced Photoshop 4 Type Magic 1 and 2 for uber sweet text fx.
Too bad it's no longer online.
Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?
I have written several articles and interviews for magazines and websites, but I have yet to write a book. I have several interesting opportunities open to write a book so hopefully my answer will be “yes” soon.
In addition to writing a book I am working on setting up speaking engagements at conferences and events during the next year.
What was the toughest thing you ever did with Flash? How long did you spend on it? Is it still online?
The toughest challenge I faced with Flash would involve the Motorola: Moto Graph project. We had a month to figure out a way to allow a user to create an animation with text, video, sound effects, and music that could be sent to their cellphone as a video file.
Figuring out the right process to achieve the client's goals required a lot of research and development to get it right. In the end we created a custom application on a render server that screen-captured the flash animation, then converted it to 3GP format before sending it to the user via MMS.
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
As long as designers and developers continue to innovate with the tool and push it to new heights Flash is certainly here to stay. I'm really pleased with the direction that Adobe is taking the player with the recent announcements regarding high definition video playback.
More importantly I believe the interactive medium is here to stay, and we are about to see an evolution of interactive moving into realms other than the web. Offline interactive installation is the new bold frontier of Flash.
What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?
Formal education is incredibly important, but not essential to achieving success in the creative industry. Determination and drive will always see you though.
For me my years of education involved “sink or swim” situations. Over the three years operating New Ezra as a freelance studio, in order to survive, I took on every project that came my way, including magazine ads, trade show booth design, php development, 3D modeling, interactive design, and the list could go on.
The ‘learn it as I go’ approach helped me to gain the skills necessary to open the door to work at 2Advanced. Now I am constantly reading book after book to learn all that I can about principals in business, marketing, and advertising.
Although it might be more work and effort to learn as you go I enjoy the hands on method.
If you take the road of formal education or learning on your own there is always a price to be paid. Neither way allows for a free ride to success.
When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?
Networking, networking, networking... I'm always sending out emails to introduce myself to others in the industry. I have an amazing group of industry people around me that I am always in touch with.
Also, make sure you take the time to promote your work. It certainly takes time, but making an effort to expose your work always pays off. Step out on a limb to introduce yourself and your work to magazine publisher, design networks, authors, bloggers, etc.
Once you have a solid portfolio and a strong network of people, you will see clients seeking you out.
How have you learned so many Flash/design skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?
Just like anything else, it takes a lot of time. When I was first learning Flash and basic design skills I remember countless hours of experimenting with Photoshop and Flash.
No matter how busy you get always take the time to learn new things and develop your skills.
What is the most expensive thing you've bought in the last week?
It would have to be the trip to the grocery store to buy everything for the Thanksgiving dinner. The whole family came to our house so we had to stock up on the turkey, cranberries, pies, wine, and much more.
What type of overcoat do you wear when Flashing, basically are you a labels man?
In sunny southern California it's all about the shorts, teeshirts, and flip-flops, but lately I’ve been “dressing up” by wearing nice jeans, teeshirt, and sometimes a button-up shirt.
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
“Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.”
It's been a privilege, thanks very much.
Thank you! I appreciate it.