Those Back to the Future hoverboards will probably not be available in 2015, but since a 3 year old can create animations using Toontastic on the iPad, imagine what that same 3 year old can do in ten years. And yes, I’m talking about my own kid :-)
Please give us a brief bio of yourself.
My name is Johanne Bruun Rasmussen. I was born in 1982 and raised in north of Jutland, which is the Alaska of Denmark. I was always the "drawing kid". In January 2002, I applied for a receptionist job at a design agency. They thought I was a shitty receptionist, so they offered me a graphic design internship and gave me my first Mac. It was love at first sight. 4 years later I helped give birth to Hello Monday.
Today we are 5 partners and 17 employees in three different offices: New York, Copenhagen and Aarhus, solving almost all assignments across the three offices. My title is Designer and Partner. I know Art Director is the proper agency term but we do not care so much about titles and hierarchy.
What do you do for inspiration?
I spend a lot of time surfing the Internet, which is both inspiring and distracting. Actually I tend to find inspiration in whatever I’m surrounded by. I’m watching a lot of Pixar movies these days, over and over again, and they are extremely inspiring.
Please list 3 of your favourite sites.
This list changes all the time, but these are favourites right now:
This little fellow makes me click. I love the character and I love exploring the transitions.
It’s a pleasure to find an agency website that challenges the classic portfolio sites. I had to spend 5 minutes looking for the cases, but it was all worth it.
A perfect example of how a fashion site can be clean, classic and streamlined without being boring.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
I would probably be the worst mom in history if I didn’t mention my kids here, so of course Bille and Sigge. Besides having two kids, starting Hello Monday with Jeppe and Anders turned out to be a pretty big achievement. Teaming up with Andreas (head of Hello Monday, NY) and then Jakob (Creative Director and head of Hello Monday, Copenhagen) was just as big.
How many hours do you work each week?
When you have your own company, spare time and work time tend to get all mixed up. But I try to keep a balance between my work life and my family life, so 40 hours spent at the office would be a normal week.
How do you relax or unwind?
I just started yoga again, the perfect way to clear your head once a week. Spending time with my family also does the trick.
If you weren't working on the internet what would you be doing?
Hmmm, I would probably be a tattooist, a bad architect or a bitter realtor.
What's your favourite part of your job? What's the hardest part of your job? What do you do when you get stuck?
During the past year I have had this feeling: “this can’t count as a real job, this is too much fun” and that’s my favorite part. The hardest part is to stay on top and keep new ideas and design solutions as good or even better than the previous. When I get stuck I draw, swear and draw. Also I have the privilege to have some really talented colleagues, so if I’m low on ideas, their heads are probably about to burst.
What's the longest you've ever stayed up working on a project?
I’m a morning person. My work gets really bad if I work late at night. So a better question would be: What’s the earliest you’ve ever gotten up to work on a project? And the answer is: very early.
If there are any pivotal experiences/decisions you could point to that helped shape your career, what would they be?
The decision to not only make our clients satisfied, but also to be satisfied ourselves with everything we publish. We made this decision when we started Hello Monday, and we’ll stick to it. When Jakob joined the company we decided to collect good clients! Life is too short to get involved with bad clients and bad projects. We also decided to work with brands that are loved by their customers/users and we’re lucky to work with quite a few of those.
How many projects does your company juggle at any one time?
Right now we’re working on 2 big projects, 6 smaller projects and 3 pitches.
Has winning FWA awards helped you in any way?
We just won our 19th FWA, actually our first MOTD. I still remember our first FWA. We must have pressed “refresh” a thousand times at GoogleAnalytics to see the insane amount of visits minus.dk got. We use the awards to keep both our own and the client’s ambitions in the sky. And of course every FWA is a huge pat on the back.
When dealing with major clients, how difficult is it to meet the needs of such wide target audiences?
Major clients often know their target audiences very well, so everything is tested thoroughly before it goes out. It can actually be harder with medium-sized companies if they do not have a clearly defined target audience, testing procedures or promotional channels.
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?
Right now we are working on an art festival, and due to the festival’s event character, we are determined to connect what’s going on online to the activities out on the street where the festival will take place. It’s a part of the project goal to identify and strengthen those links between on- and offline by working across channels.
Looking 10 years in to the future, how far can websites go?
It’s exciting to try to predict the future, but looking back at the last ten years, it’s extremely hard to imagine what we are able to do in ten years. Those Back to the Future hoverboards will probably not be available in 2015, but since a 3 year old can create animations using Toontastic on the iPad, imagine what that same 3 year old can do in ten years. And yes, I’m talking about my own kid :-)
Of all the websites you/your company have produced, which one are you most proud of?
I'm proud of different projects for different reasons, so it's really hard to pick just one. Often I'm most proud of the projects that haven't launched yet. This spring we had a mobile idea for a big brand. They liked it, but thought it was a bit to weird. So we changed it a bit and turned it into a mobile game called “Beanie and The Balloonist,” It's been a Hello Monday dream to make our own projects on the side, so to make this dream a reality we created a new branch of Hello Monday called "Made on a Monday" to launch projects like "Beanie." It's a place to realize the projects in our heads that don't have any real clients. Check the App Store in mid-December for our first release!
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
In 2007 my omniscient colleague Anders predicted that Flash wouldn’t be here in 2014 - I’ll stick to that prediction.
How difficult do you find employing the right people in a world where everyone calls themselves a web designer?
We have made the decision to only hire nice, talented and passionate people. These past years we have been extremely lucky to find some amazing interns that we have now hired. It is much harder to find great art directors.
What would be your ultimate vehicle to travel in?
A turquoise Fiat Panda 45, without a doubt.
When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?
In the beginning we made a couple of websites for my husband who owns a fashion brand. There was almost no budget, but we had creative freedom. Of course you can’t eat awards, but they can change things for you and be a part of the maturing process. They can actually help make you better. And the more we won, the more the phone started ringing.
How do you keep your finger on the pulse of the latest web trends?
Of course I have a daily routine where I drop by some good inspiration sites, like:
inspirationlab.wordpress.com, thefwa.com, ffffound.com, and theinspiration.com etc. But I also try not to be too narrow with my interests. There is a lot of pulse in the fashion industry. Also a lot of wired trends emerge from contemporary art and street art, so these places are definitely worth a visit: http://www.streetartutopia.com/ http://www.lostateminor.com/category/art/ http://hypebeast.com/
There must be a project that you have always dreamed of doing, what is it?
I started out as a graphic designer in the classic sense, so designing a milk carton is probably my dream project. To be an integral part of people’s breakfast would be amazing. Making the complete design, on- and offline for a circus is also pretty high on my wish list.
What does the future hold for your company, or you as a person?
A massive amount of crisp design, great people and great digital solutions will definitely be coming out of Hello Monday in the future. We are also planning to realize more projects through “Made on a Monday”.
What are you excited about learning next and is there a long term challenge you are considering tackling?
Crocheting a website is a long term challenge, nevertheless a challenge I plan to take up.
What is the most expensive thing you have bought in the last week?
There is really not much time in my life for shopping these days, but I went grocery shopping yesterday. Come to think of it, I did buy this font on sale this week http://new.myfonts.com/fonts/hvdfonts/pluto-italics/ . Can’t wait to use it.
What type of overcoat do you wear when Flashing, basically are you a labels man?
This season I’m wearing an overcoat from my husband’s fashion brand, RVLT. I’m basically a walking billboard, wearing stuff they design and it's definitely one of the upsides of being married to someone in the fashion industry. Besides that I am not a labels man. Maybe because I am a woman :)
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
1) Stay away from drugs 2) Have a passion, not a business plan.
It has been a privilege, thanks very much