We are at our best when we are speaking to people like us, about a brand that we believe in and consume ourselves.
Please give us a brief bio of yourself.
I started at Big Spaceship in 2002. At the time there were 6 of us, I was the coder. The first day that we hired another coder to be on the team, I declared myself Minister of Technology.
Going backwards in time before that: I built a couple of sites with Asymptote; I was a Designer/Developer at Guggenheim.com (which went the way of most dot-coms of the time); I was a full-time musician living in Chicago; and I got a degree in Art History from Northwestern University.
What do you do for inspiration?
As cheesy as it sounds, most of my inspiration comes from simply being in the office, working with the incredible crew we've got at BSS. There is always something going on somewhere in the office that blows my mind.
I have attended and spoken at a fair number of industry conferences over the past couple of years, like FITC, FOWD, Adobe MAX, etc. I usually come away from these events feeling inspired by the presentations and by just talking to attendees and colleagues. I would recommend that anyone in the industry try and get to these events when possible.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
I'm not sure if I would consider it my/our biggest achievement ever, but something that came immediately to mind is the recent write-up about Big Spaceship on Apple's site.
And, of course, being the first non-Swedish inductee into the FWA Hall of Fame certainly ranks.
What software could you not live without?
OS X and TextMate.
What projects do you have in the pipeline?
We are about to get going on a couple more Hollywood film campaigns, as well as campaigns for some television and high fashion properties.
What effect on traffic do your new designs have?
We often have a hard time getting actual numbers from our clients. This means all we have to go on is how happy we make our clients, and more often than not, we make them happy.
Who is your target audience?
That depends entirely on the project. We are at our best when we are speaking to people like us, about a brand that we believe in and consume ourselves.
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
My very first site was a site for the band I was in at the time. It isn't online anymore, but it got me my first real job in New York.
Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?
I have often thought about writing a book for coders, possibly about coding games with Actionscript.
I have talked to a lot of people who have written similar books about the process, and it has become clear that I don't have nearly enough time to write anything on my own right now. Big Spaceship is collectively working on something though.
What was the toughest thing you ever did with Flash? How long did you spend on it? Is it still online?
BSS has built a series of browser-based multiplayer games for film sites all based on a Flash/FMS/ColdFusion/MyQL engine I created that has gone through a number of revisions.
The latest iteration was for the 30 Days of Night campaign we did last year.
Working on it over the years has taught me a lot about code architecture, data management, animation timing, and has resulted in my being a better coder.
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
Absolutely. It has grown into an incredibly robust platform with endless possibilities. The only reason it would go away would be if something even better came along.
Regardless of what technology is out there, we will find appropriate ways to tell our stories and our clients' stories in the most compelling ways possible.
What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?
I have been exposed to a lot of new media education programs through recruiting interns and employees. There are definitely some great programs out there, and it is a great way to pick up a lot of technical skills and tools.
I would like to see more programs with a focus on working with teams. It is a great opportunity to give the students experience working with other people that is hard to get through freelance work, and is incredibly valuable when going to work for an agency. It is also a good way to help students find what they are especially interested in or good at, and encourage them to specialize.
A lot of programs provide general knowledge across a variety of areas, with the unfortunate side effect of students who know a lot but don't stand out in any one area, or who think they have to know how to do EVERYTHING to get a job.
The truth is that we actually prefer for applicants to have a specialty and know what they want to do, be it animation, illustration, motion effects, development, or whatever.
When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?
Doing good work. All of our work has always come from incoming inquiries. We have never had a sales team. This fact has come to inform our approach and culture as much as it is a product of the same.
Hmm .. that made a lot more sense in my head than it does in front of my face.
How have you learned so many Flash/design skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?
When I first got into this I don't think new media education programs existed anywhere, aside from the crazy professor who wanted us to do a project in HTML form.
The basics can be learned from books, tutorials, and practice. I think the only way to get to the next level is to find people who push and inspire you, and ideally work with them. This goes back to my previous comments about education programs focusing on teams.
What is the most expensive thing you have bought in the last week?
Grand Theft Auto IV for PS3.
What type of overcoat do you wear when Flashing, basically are you a labels man?
Barney's all the way.
It has been a privilege, thanks very much.
Right back at ya.