I was once told that your ideas aren't yours at all. That is, an original idea never comes out of thin air; it's always influenced by something or someone else, whether or not you're consciously aware of it.
Please give us a brief bio of yourself.
My name is Brian Kadar, and I grew up and currently live in Flushing, NY. I split my time between Flash and the New York Mets (which are actually, not so split.)
What do you do for inspiration?
Absolutely nothing. Really. I just hope it finds me when I’m not looking, and that’s usually when I get my best ideas.
I was once told that your ideas aren’t yours at all. That is, an original idea never comes out of thin air; it’s always influenced by something or someone else, whether or not you’re consciously aware of it. So when I have a problem to solve, I sit back, and let my brain do the work for me.
Please list 3 of your favourite sites.
I’ve worked out a special deal with the FWA, and they have graciously allowed me to list 4 sites below:
This is a recent find. It’s very rare that something makes me laugh out loud; and there’s nothing like some raunchy yiddishkite.
That’s my girlfriend’s site. Ding, ding ding, that’s me scoring major points.
A real trailblazer, each post is like Christmas.
Know the guy who did this one.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
During my sophomore year in college, I visited some web design shops on a class fieldtrip—they were firstborn, The Chopping Block, Organic, and a few others.
A couple years later when I moved back home and unpacked my stuff, I found a business card with the name Vas Sloutchevsky on it. I tacked it on the wall above my desk, as a reminder of the kind of work I wanted to be doing.
Fast forward a couple years and I’m working side by side with Vas and many of the interactive pioneers I visited that day on the field trip. To me, that’s a humongous personal achievement. Hopefully I’m doing the kind of the work that had inspired me in the first place.
What projects do you have in the pipeline?
We’re teaming up with our Dumbo neighbors, Domani Studios, for a very special collaboration; it will be ready just in time for the nice weather.
What effect on traffic do your new designs have?
Users are spending 30, 45 minutes, an hour on our Pearl Jam site. If you make it, they will come. If you make it awesome, they will stay.
What area of web design lacks the most?
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
I’ve noticed that most interviewees evade this question, but I’m quite proud of how Flash and I first met. Let me tell you a story…
It was the summer of 2000 and I was interning at a dot-com-startup called M2card, an online-centered debit card for teenagers. Based on the timeframe you can probably guess as to the company’s eventual fate. I was just a general intern, helping with market research and other fun stuff.
Their website was in development by a little company called Organic, and was using this new, cutting edge “Flash” technology. And it wasn’t going to launch for another 3 months. So I asked if I could take a crack at designing an interim website.
I did a few comps, they chose a direction and agreed to let me do it. Then I said I wanted to make it in Flash, but they told me it was too ambitious. Little did they know that I had downloaded the Flash 4 trial the day before.
Long story short, I end up wiggling my way into Flash and finishing the web site before the trial expired. They eventually bought the software and some books so the tech guys could catch up.
It turned out to be good for everyone involved. I had an opportunity to dive into Flash for the first time, and the company received press for their website literally being “designed by a teenager, for teenagers.”
Thanks for listening, here it is: http://www.briankadar.com/fwa/m2card/
Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?
I recently worked with a great developer who is an author of an AS book. I helped him out with something and jokingly asked for a 20% cut of his next book. He replied, “You may be disappointed at the numbers.”
What was the toughest thing you ever did with Flash? How long did you spend on it? Is it still online?
About a year ago, I worked on a website that was an ambitious data visualization of the entire bible (in 3d, of course). Heavy stuff.
Unfortunately, the client got in the way of six months of hard work and it never quite made it. The Starter Wife website was a huge undertaking, an ambitious 3d virtual world built on top of NBC’s very beta social networking backend - that was a big lesson on working with The Man.
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
Not sure. This Web 2.0 (3.0…n.0) stuff is very scary for a Flash developer. Some days I think we’re toast, and every now and then you’ll see a flash site that makes a great argument for the cause.
Much of the criticism of Flash comes from it being pigeonholed as annoying banner ads, and chronic misuse. When Papervision3D first broke out, there were 4,239 sites with floating rectangles, followed by 2,317 sites with a 3d globe, preceded by 1,415 sites with turning pages.
I swore I’d never use it. But those are the growing pains of new technology; eventually we find ways to take something from a cool trend to a powerful tool. It’s a matter of pairing ideas with the right technology, which may or may not always be Flash (yes, it’s true)—but when it is, nothing comes close, is as exciting, or is as pervasive on the web. Except for Silverlight.*
* Just kidding.
What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?
Going to design school does not necessarily make you a designer.
This field is multidisciplinary - a blend of art, mathematics, science, sociology. I think that in order to be great you need a working knowledge of all of these things; a well-rounded education should make you a better problem solver.
I grew up having competing interests in the arts and sciences, so spending time in each gave me a rich arsenal for interactive work.
How have you learned so many Flash/design skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?
It takes a long time to be good and even longer to be great; you should start now because it’s a constant game of catching up. I still am.
By the time I finish writing this interview someone will have figured out a way to turn baseball cards into live 3d games with a webcam. Damnit, see?
But one thing that helps me sleep at night is that the greatest work does not require the latest technology - it’s when the design and technology combine to make the whole greater than the sum of its parts. 1+1=3.
What is the most expensive thing you have bought in the last week?
New York Mets tickets, many of them. Anyone who follows baseball will see that I do not invest wisely.
What type of overcoat do you wear when Flashing, basically are you a labels man?
I’ve worn the same pair of Adidas sneakers for 3 years straight, even through snow and ice.
I alternate between two identical pairs of jeans every couple of months, and have a decent rotation of hoodies and t-shirts. I still think I look sharp, nonetheless.
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
Hopefully you will find some on my new blog.
It has been a privilege, thanks very much.
Oh you’re too much, Rob. Check’s in the mail.