Having inspired so many young artists during my days as an avid illustrator means a lot to me. I still hear from many young designers that the work I did almost 10 years ago was the reason they got into the design industry.
Please give us a brief bio of yourself.
My name is Jens Karlsson and I was born and raised on a small island called Öland in the Baltic sea. I'm the co-founder and Executive Creative Director at Your Majesty where I'm involved in all projects that we produce.
I previously worked as a Design Director at Big Spaceship for many years and before that I worked at DNA Studio in LA, Kioken in New York and also spent many years freelancing as a designer, animator and illustrator. After attending Hyper Island I spent the first couple of years of my career exploring 3d abstracts, had a taste of the mograph industry and then shifted focus to interactive. Personal Site
What do you do for inspiration?
I shoot a lot of photography and spend hours and hours retouching them. I'm also addicted to flickr and anything else related to photographic techniques. I enjoy books on architecture, design methodology, typography and data visualization and various magazines and I surf around a little once in a while.
I used to find it hard to be inspired but it's become sort of an automated process where my mind attracts inspiration when needed and to tell you the truth I believe the most inspiring act is to take time off and do something completely unrelated to our field.
Read up on spinal surgery, Indian food culture, psychology, how to construct a cruise ship, physics or just strolls in nature. I love to explore other cultures and I travel as much as possible and when I return I always feel extremely motivated and charged.
Please list 3 of your favourite sites.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
Having inspired so many young artists during my days as an avid illustrator means a lot to me. I still hear from many young designers that the work I did almost 10 years ago was the reason they got into the design industry. Hearing that is major. Running Your Majesty successfully, which was a dream growing up, would be another achievement.
What software could you not live without?
Photoshop + Adobe RAW
What projects do you have in the pipeline?
We are currently working on two brand identity systems for two Asian brands to be introduced on the US market, one which involves a world round trip to shoot photography for the interactive execution for one of those brands.
We're also working on a flash experience for a hotel group, creative development and ideation for a major global car brand, a large flash gaming community world, a dynamic brand management web application tool in flash, a corporate site presented using Papervision in a very non-traditional way, Your Majesty's 3rd wine, a redesign of the site we previously created for UrbanDaddy.
We're also working hard to set up our office in São Paolo, Brazil at the moment and we're also moving into new offices in New York.
Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?
I always respected the work from Attik, Psyop and North Kingdom a lot and let me point out that those are just a few, there are so many great companies and individuals out there.
What effect on traffic do your new designs have?
It's hard to generalize across the projects we do since we're working on so many kinds of products. I don't have any exact numbers but on the top of my head I know that our redesigns for adweek.com and urbandaddy.com generated a lot of traffic and attracted new audiences.
For campaign sites you're always starting out from scratch since there was no traffic in the beginning but there the media buy is also key in generating traffic.
Who is your target audience?
Your Majesty's audience, or should I say our customers, are forward-thinking companies that dare to invest in brave creative ideas and also advertising agencies that need assistance with state of the art production. Internally we focus hard on nurturing an environment with a strong family feeling where people can really feel that their work means something and that they're contributing to something great.
What area of web design lacks the most?
I think there's so much great work out there today. One thing I believe needs improvement is individualization, sites that speak directly to a person's needs and adapt according to his/her behavior.
In terms of the craftsmanship of design online I think that we're lacking the typographic playfulness that Broadcast and Print brings us since everything is mostly standardized and "limited by technology" in some ways. And then there's the originality and people taking risks. There's too much plagiarism out there and measurement of success statistics drive a lot of people into the same "safe" corner.
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
My very first site was a portfolio I created in school in 96 and the graphics included use of page-turn, inner/outer bevel, 3d bubble and other really classy effects from eyecandy, Kai's powertools and built in filters in Corel, marvelous stuff I will admit.
It's not online but I did however find one of those splash pages I designed in 2000 the other day: http://chapter3.net/index_purple.html
and my 8 year old portfolio from right after college: http://chapter3.net/index_old.html
Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?
I once co-authored a book named New Masters of Photoshop but nothing since then. Me and my partner James Widegren have been wanting to write a book on web typography and tailored grid system usage in interactive design, we'll see when that happens.
What was the toughest thing you ever did with Flash? How long did you spend on it? Is it still online?
Every project we work on is a great challenge, I can't point out a certain one that was harder than the other.
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
Indeed. However it will be interesting to see how development of the flash platform adapts to the future of mobile devices and platforms that are becoming a natural part of everyone's life.
What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?
School is an excellent way to set aside time for concentrated studies but I certainly think you can do just as well being self taught.
When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?
Being enjoyable to work with and showing how much you care about the product you're creating together with the client. But the true answer is that what happened all those years that lead up to Your Majesty meant the most as we were building relationships with people whom we are working with today.
How have you learned so many Flash/design skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?
Aim high and always try to incorporate one thing you know nothing about in each project. That way you will stay up to date with our ever changing industry.
What is the most expensive thing you have bought in the last week?
A bottle of Malbec for 20 bucks.
What type of overcoat do you wear when Flashing, basically are you a labels man?
Just as I appreciate well crafted graphic design I appreciate well designed fashion. I like style but I would never wear a shirt that had a big logo on it. It's not about the label, it's about the design, durability and craftsmanship of the product.
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
Foster an environment where you show that you care not only about the work but about the people around you. Aim to always be humble, accomodating and positive and you will see that people you've worked with will want to work with you again and also spread the word to others.
It has been a privilege, thanks very much.
Good luck Rob and thank you