The best way to learn something is to get your hands dirty. Just do some personal projects.

question Please give us a brief bio of yourself.

My name is Jean Helfenstein, I was born and raised in Annecy, France. My dad worked in IT so I got my hands on a computer and internet at an early age. I started doing websites to show off my skateboard skills (the video of my 360 flip over 3 stairs wowed more than one at the time). I got a Bachelor in Computer Science in Edinburgh, Scotland and went to Graphic Design school in Lyon for my Masters. Then I started working for the Visionaire Group in Los Angeles for 2 years, before going freelance back in Europe. 

What do you do for inspiration?

I follow talented people on twitter. It's a great way to quickly see what people are doing.

Please list 3 of your favourite sites.

Anything Google Labs / Chris Milk / Aaron Koblin, I hate those guys! :)




How do you relax or unwind?

I watch The OC...

What's your favourite part of your job? What's the hardest part of your job? What do you do when you get stuck?

I love the fact that I can create something alone from my room that potentially tons of people will see.

The hard part is probably keeping up with new technologies and trends, it's all moving so fast.

When I get stuck I just take a break, drink some vanilla coke and eat Nutella, makes it all better :)

In terms of software, is there anything new you have been playing with lately or that has impressed you?

WebGL is pretty cool. The THREE.js library from Mr.Doob is so simple to use yet very powerful. After all this time waiting for good tools to do 3d on the web, I wish people would take more risks and use it for commercial projects. It's time to make cool sh*t again :)

Has winning FWA awards helped you in any way?

Yes, I started to get fans :) Mainly dudes but still really cool to see that people enjoy what I'm doing.

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

It involved animated gifs of clowns and a tiled background of jugglers (was for the circus show I was part of growing up). It's not online anymore.

Looking 10 years in to the future, how far can websites go?

I think 10 years from now there won't be any websites as we know it. I think it will get out of the computer, we are already seeing it with mobile devices. I'm a big believer in augmented reality, technologies like Google glasses will open up a whole new way of interacting with online content. I can't wait !

Do you think Flash is here to stay?

As far as websites go, I think Flash is now pretty dead, it's sad, Flash is the reason I got into websites. But Adobe is making smart choices by turning it into more of a Game Engine, so it'll stay around for a while longer.

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

You can definitely get into the field without educational experience, your portfolio is your CV, if you do good work, people will want to work with you regardless of your education. But schools have a lot to offer, just being surrounded by people driven by the same passion makes it worthwhile.

If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring FWA award submitter, what advice would you give them?

Have fun! Sounds cheesy but if you like what you do, people will like it too.

What would be your ultimate vehicle to travel in?

Teleportation of course. If it's really not possible then hover boards.

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

The best way to learn something is to get your hands dirty. Just do some personal projects.

There must be a project that you have always dreamed of doing, what is it?

I want to do an interactive installation involving head tracking and sound reactive 3d abstract visuals. Anyone wants to give me money for it ?

What are you excited about learning next and is there a long term challenge you are considering tackling?

I would like to spend more time looking into creative coding frameworks like Processing or openFrameWorks, get outside of the web for a change.

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

A bottle of glenfiddich 18 years old. Always a good gift !

Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?

Keep it simple !

It has been a privilege, thanks very much

Same here, thanks a lot !



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