I create shit, lots of shit. Not just on the web but physical things outside of the digital space. Building things out of pixels, code, wood, metal, or whatever.
Please give us a brief bio of yourself.
I'm originally from Syracuse NY, moved to LA my last year of college for an internship and worked as a film editor. I moved back to the east coast where it snows sideways working on digital projects ever since. I'm currently Sr. Web Designer at Burton snowboards in Burlington Vermont.
What do you do for inspiration?-
I create shit, lots of shit. Not just on the web but physical things outside of the digital space. Building things out of pixels, code, wood, metal, or whatever. Relentlessly sketching, drawing and maintaining multiple Moleskin's filled with clippings, random ideas, and words of inspiration are all things that I do to keep inspired. Also, I'm always changing things in my environment. Everything from completely remodeling to simply changing the furniture around at home or at work - always in pursuit of perfection for that moment. For me, the creative process is the process of living life. It's impossible to avoid, always changing and consistently enlightening. As such, my sources of inspiration is always changing. I find that when I look at the same source over and over it actually un-inspires me. Prototypes and an agile, interative process are key motivators in my work. These two things provide insight and drive simplification.
Please list 3 of your favourite sites.
Is Google 3 sites?
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
My biggest achievements are when my team and I come up with break through ideas. That feeling of creating something great is amazing, especially when it's shared through a team of people. In terms of an actual project it's hard to say. By the time we launch something I've spent so many hours/days/weeks/months obsessing over it that it's old to me even before it makes it live. I'm most excited about the project that I haven't thought of yet.
How many hours do you work each week?
It's not the amount of time you put it, it's what you get out of it. Counting the hours I work is pretty much impossible because I'm always contemplating how to streamline ideas or conjuring up new ones. Hours are irrelevant in the grand scheme of creating great things and doing what you love. If you're focused on the amount of hours you spend on a project, you're in in the wrong business.
How do you relax or unwind?
If you weren't working on the internet what would you be doing?
What's your favourite part of your job? What's the hardest part of your job? What do you do when you get stuck?
The best part of my job is getting as many days snowboarding as I can. The hardest part of my job is being much more then a designer. I also guide and shape process, strategy, manage 3 designers, keep up to date on my coding skills, come with inventive ideas for future projects and push to get those ideas done. I've created a process for myself that makes it really hard to get stuck. Consistently tapping into my peers, my design team, building prototypes and working closely with our development team makes getting stuck pretty hard to do.
If there are any pivotal experiences/decisions you could point to that helped shape your career, what would they be?
Remember that you always cut your own path. Don't wait for someone else to do it for you.
What software could you not live without?
Pencil and paper...or are those hardware?
In terms of software, is there anything new you have been playing with lately or that has impressed you?
I'm still impressed with Facetime. After seeing the idea in Back to the Future II it makes me feel like we're now living in the future. Now Nike just has to make the Air Mag self tying.
Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?
I really don't follow design companies. But I think that RED interactive, Cargo Collective and FI are doing some good things.
What effect on traffic do your new designs have?
Burton.com is a unique site. Burton is known for it's superior snowboarding gear. This is also true of everything else we do on the creative side - the site, ads, video, etc. We push the limits with everything we do from design to development. We're probably the only site in the world that completely redesigns the entire beast every year. That's pretty hard core. Because of that, we turn a lot of heads and people look to the site for progression and innovation the same values that the company was built on.
Who is your target audience?
What area of web design lacks the most?
The art of designing the content. Most importantly designing content for the appropriate device/screen. With so many people using mobile it critical to deliver properly prioritized content those viewers need as quick as you can while also taking advantage of technologies specific to the device to better add value to thier experience. Also, large brand sites are generally way to generic. Time is spent designing navigation and UI elements focused on plugging content into a templates. Little effort is put into actually designing the content to engage the user as they scan it.
Has winning FWA awards helped you in any way?
It's funny because we redesign our site ever year. So what the work that we won an award this year has completely change. It's really cool to see our name in lights but we know it's not there to stay.
Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?
I haven't written any books, but burton.com has been cited "The Smashing Book" for designing the invisible and I've done an interview on how to create a good digital portfolio that was in "No Plastic Sleeves."
What was the last digital effort you saw (or were a part of) that used social media in a way that really made sense. Why?
We recently launched White Christmas - a 8 Day Gift Giving Extravaganza that used Shaun White. It's basically a Facebook app that lives on burton.com/whitechristmas. Users have to log in with Facebook connect in order to win daily product giveaways and solve clues that would reveal the grand prize. A clue for the grand prize was revealed every 24 hours. The first one to solve all the clues won the grand prize. The key component of the app was a viral piece that allowed users to send gifts (in the form of daily product giveaways) to their friends. When they assigned their friends to gifts, their friends would receive a message on Facebook inviting them in to the contest and to send gifts to their friends. Pretty simple and very viral.
Have you been a part of a campaign that was rooted in digital and THEN reached over into other consumer touchpoints? Did this happen organically or was it a part of the plan from the beginning?
Yes. In fact a lot of stuff that we do is central to an online experience. Sometimes it happens from the beginning, but most of the time it happens organically. It starts with an idea, then we discuss content and what the best way to execute on the content. In the creative process, all mediums inform each other even though one is the hub of the execution. This gives everyone ownership and pushes the design execution from multiple angles.
The web is getting out of the web. Do you find that thinking in digital solutions alone hinders you? Do you feel the urge to solve the problem using all mediums necessary?
It really depends on the problem. In marketing though, digital leads the charge because of it's ability to engage you like no other medium can. Digital is not the solution for every problem, but it's multidimensional nature, adoption, and interaction level is unrivaled.
Looking 10 years in to the future, how far can websites go?
Hopefully we won't be making websites anymore. We will be creating tools that use content as utility and add value to users lives.
What was the toughest thing you ever did with Flash? How long did you spend on it? Is it still online?
For the 2009 Launch of burton.com we build the entire thing in Flash. It was an amazing effort on both the design and development front considering the immense product line Burton has to offer. It's no longer on line.
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
I question that more every day as we get closer to making the HTML 5 video tag a standard.
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. I think good designers are good designers and don't need education to prove it. Being a good designer is an innate quality. The ability to efficiently solve graphic problems comes with experience. Experience is more important then school. The only way you learn is by doing and failing. The more variety you can add to that equation the better designer you'll be.
If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring FWA award submitter, what advice would you give them?
Experiment and collaborate. Listen to all feedback. Fail and learn from those moments. Strive for perfection.
How difficult do you find employing the right people in a world where everyone calls themselves a web designer?
It's very difficult. I'm a firm believer in order to be a web designer you also need to be part developer. Understanding of development is critical to being able to design for the medium. To many designers think that because they know photoshop and surf the web that qualifies them to be a web designer.
How do you keep up with the latest capabilities of Flash or do you rely on other members of you team to do this?
We have an in house Flash guru - Ian MacDowell. He's the man when it comes to Flash, keeping us all up to date.
What would be your ultimate vehicle to travel in?
A Flying Saucer.
How have you learned so many Flash/design skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?
The best way to learn is to do new things. Create/build everything that you think of. Collaborate with others you trust (and sometimes those that you don't). Listen to feedback from everyone.
What is the most expensive thing you have bought in the last week?
Workwear Magazine. Man, that's a hefty price for a mag, but worth it. Inspiration for days.
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
Never stop learning. Do everything you can to push yourself out of your comfort zone.