If we went back to living in caves, then the answer is 'yes'; I'd be fine with a stick of chalk.
Please give us a brief bio of yourself.
I'm Dexter Cruz, ACD / Sr. Designer at Fi, NY.
I was born and raised in Manila and moved to New York in 2001. I have a background in print design, illustration + animation then decided to jump into interactive design towards the end of the dotcom crash.
I’ve done the full circle starting at Big Spaceship which was a small design boutique at the time, then to the client side being at MTV, then to various ad agencies, and now I’m back to a smaller more specialized shop at Fi. It’s good to be here.
What do you do for inspiration?
I usually step out for a walk. There’s usually something interesting going on around you, if not, you’re looking at the wrong things.
Please list 3 of your favourite sites.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
Working with the best and the brightest in the industry - some of which have become dear friends. I'm sure it's all about being at the right place and the right time but I'd also like to attribute it to hard work and working smart.
What software could you not live without?
This is like "What's your favorite font or color?" It all depends on the task at hand.
The Adobe Suite is the set I’ve been familiar with over the years. And as a company, they seem to be in tune with what we need and every iteration just gets better.
Now back to the question, could I live without them? If we went back to living in caves, then the answer is “yes”; I’d be fine with a stick of chalk.
What projects do you have in the pipeline?
We’ve been working a lot with EA Sports lately from microsites, web + iphone apps, and even interface designs and architecture for xbox and ps3. There’s also some work for Joost, Disney, and a car company.
Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?
In interactive design it's:
What effect on traffic do your new designs have?
Well, I'd like to think that my designs make the site more engaging and results in people lingering and consuming the content more than they normally would.
The important thing is to get a reaction. If it doesn’t illicit a response then you didn’t do a good job floating above the clutter.
Who is your target audience?
Depends on the project. As they say... "Anyone from nine to ninety-nine." Designers can sometimes be overly self-indulgent with their work often ignoring the end-user in the process.
My Creative Director, used to say: artists ask questions, designers solve problems.
What area of web design lacks the most?
Sensible usability standards. We’re at a point where more people use the web more that we anyone ever imagined and we need to realize that people/users are smarter than we think.
Instead of designing something more intuitive, we tack on clutter - instructions, help pop-ups, and labels on top of labels.
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
An html page with text links to live sites and that was it - that was my portfolio.
Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?
I haven't written any but if I ever did one it'll be a picture book.
What was the toughest thing you ever did with Flash? How long did you spend on it? Is it still online?
Every new project that comes along is will be tougher than your previous work - people want something bigger and better than the last all the time.
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
It's one of those softwares that has a notorious monopoly in our industry just like Photoshop and Aftereffects. So, for now, yes. But like any other tool, people will stick to it until something better comes along.
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. Schools only train you to be with the same types of people you might encounter later on in the workplace and it facilitates learning faster.
It doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be “awesome” when you finish. (That’s why everyone feels like an idiot on the first day in their first job).
Anyone with the right mindset, attitude and work ethic can make it big doing whatever they want - David Carson influenced a generation of typographers without any formal design training, David Ogilvy became one of the most renowned ad men without being in ad school, and many musicians are self taught.
When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?
Clients hire you for your unique point-of-view (in the ideal world). If you're starting from scratch, designing a personal project or redesigning an existing site is a good way to start.
Not only does it showcase how you think but it's also a good exercise for defining the type of projects/clients you'd like to work with.
How have you learned so many Flash/design skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?
Be curious, keep doing it, but learn from your mistakes. It's a lot like playing music. The best way to learn the guitar is to pick up the instrument and pluck it until you sound like your guitar god - by the time you do, you'll probably figure out your own voice/style.
And of course, jamming with other musicians will also make you exponentially better as opposed to learning on your own.
What is the most expensive thing you have bought in the last week?
An Oxo brushed stainless steel garbage can. Ridiculously expensive for a trash bin but it’s the best-looking garbage can in our kitchen.
What type of overcoat do you wear when Flashing, basically are you a labels man?
Not particularly fond of wearing labels for labels' sake, in fact I hate name big brands emblazoned on apparel, but I do follow certain labels for their design sensibilities. I go for the simple, understated but elegant.
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
It’s all about context - everyone thinks they’re right based on what they know. The key is to fill that information gap so you could share the same mindset.