.

My favorite task is brainstorming for pitches. When you land on the right idea it’s thrilling to imagine its potential and envision the way that users will respond. The hardest part is accepting when those same ideas are passed on and learning from that.

question Please give us a brief bio of yourself.

I'm a North Carolina native, but I never really fit in the south.  Eventually I dropped out of art school and moved to Los Angeles.  I worked at agencies for the first 3 years of my career, then freelanced for another 2 years before starting The Flock.

What do you do for inspiration?

I enjoy experimenting and learning new skills.  My obsession changes from month to month whether it’s photography, Cinema4d, video, woodworking, new programming languages, drum machines, etc… it’s amazing how many concepts you’ll learn for one task that are beneficial for seemingly unrelated tasks.

A perfect example is learning to light a 3d model.  Since there is no natural light in a 3d application you’re forced to actually understand how a light affects an object, which completely informs you on ways to approach lighting for interior design, illustration, or photography. comedy

The larger your creative vocabulary is, the more you’ll have to pull inspiration from.

Please list 3 of your favourite sites.

http://www.2atoms.com//worstoftheweb/blount.htm

http://www.thebestpageintheuniverse.net/c.cgi?u=irule

http://www.evangelcathedral.net/

How many hours do you work each week?

Most weeks I clock somewhere between 40-50 hrs, but who’s counting?  Occasionally we have to work late to meet our deadlines, but I think we do a pretty good job of making that the exception.

How do you relax or unwind?

Beverages.  All kinds, but with an emphasis on those that contain alcohol.

If you weren't working on the internet what would you be doing?

Probably working creatively with some sort of physical medium.  My education focused on creating art for the purpose of political or social statements, but I prefer making things that are used so I’m sure I would be designing modern furniture or some form of product design.  That actually sounds pretty good.  Maybe it’s time for a career change?

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

My favorite task is brainstorming for pitches.  When you land on the right idea it’s thrilling to imagine its potential and envision the way that users will respond.  The hardest part is accepting when those same ideas are passed on and learning from that.

If there are any pivotal experiences/decisions you could point to that helped shape your career, what would they be?

I became a developer by accident.  My first legit job was at Trigger where I had applied for a design position.  Apparently I didn't specify that was the position I was applying for because they called me about a freelance project developing a flash game.  I was in WAY over my head, but they didn't know that and I took the project anyways.  I ended up calling a childhood friend who knew a lot about games and we managed to pull it off as a team.  It was a miracle considering that I barely knew anything about code, and my teammate had never written Actionscript.

After that project, Trigger offered me a fulltime position as a lead flash developer.  I preferred to be a designer, so I asked for a salary that was twice what I had made at my previous job and figured they'd say no, but they said yes.  I faked my way into a great job, with a great salary, that I was completely unqualified for, then worked my ass off to not get caught.  My first project there was Spiderman 3.

What software could you not live without?

I’d rather say which software I wish I could live without.  Internet Explorer.

How many projects does your company juggle at any one time?

We don’t overload ourselves.  We normally have 2-4 projects going.

Has winning FWA awards helped you in any way?

I’ve won FWAs at previous jobs, and it felt great, but we are just now winning our first ones as a company which is maybe more exciting.  It’s an encouragement to our entire team and will help us attract new talented team members. 

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

I made my first site when I was in middle school and it’s long gone.  It was html with animated gifs I’d made in trueSpace 3d and Paint Shop Pro.  It was terrible, but I thought it was awesome.

What was the toughest thing you ever did with Flash? How long did you spend on it? Is it still online?

I built a mosaic generator that ran as an air application five or six years ago.  User mosaics were quite the fad!  It analyzed a library of user images and used them to create a mosaic from any source image that you chose.  A lot of mosaics I was seeing at the time would fake the effect by filtering the images or laying the source image over top, but ours didn’t do that.  It actually worked without the cheap tricks, which I was proud of.  The prototype was completed in a couple weeks but, alas, was never used.

I’ve also dabbled in game programming.  A* Algorithm, Collision testing, etc… that junk is crazy and it’s better that I leave it to people much smarter than myself.

Do you think Flash is here to stay?

As a developer Flash was my first love, but it’s out of fashion and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. It’s ability to package native apps for mobile platforms is pretty useful for developers that already know the technology, but I think that feature’s usefulness may be fleeting since young developers are learning flash less and less. Flash as an application will continue to have other uses, but for creating experiences intended to be viewed within browser based flash players it seems to be on its last leg.

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

I have a complicated relationship with design school and think that it’s usefulness varies greatly by the quality of the institution and the skill of the students around you.  If the people around you are doing great work, then you’ll work hard and catch up, but if they’re mediocre then you’ll likely be mediocre too.  Unfortunately my experience was more of the latter until I began my career and was around people who really knew what they were doing.

School is a great way to learn the basics and get started, but no, I don’t think you need design school if you can get a job working with talented people. 

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

Don’t settle for “good enough.”  Be competitive.  Put in the extra time to make your work stand out.  Change companies when it’s time to move on.

How difficult do you find employing the right people in a world where everyone calls themselves a web designer?

Hiring people is incredibly hard, but I think that’s probably true for any business.  At least with designers you can look at their portfolio and see if they have talent.  

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

Most of my technical knowledge was learned from reading tutorials and blog posts.  When I was first learning HTML I would view the page source to see how things were done, then I’d try to copy it.  If it didn’t work, I’d mess around until I figured out why.  The ability to troubleshoot and problem solve on your own is an incredible job skill that I wish more people had.

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

I get pretty excited about creating things that you can physically interact with.  The ability to add touch and gyroscope interactions into our websites has been a lot fun.  I’m planning to dive further into those sorts of interactions with native applications and physical installations.

It has been a privilege, thanks very much

Thanks!


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