It’s easy to get into a position of convincing yourself that you are right, especially when you are the boss. I think I’ve learned that there are plenty of really smart people that I can learn from, no matter how many successes I have under my belt.

question Please give us a brief bio of yourself.

I grew up in Southern California and attended California Institute of the Arts before taking my first job working for Fuel/Razorfish. Shortly after, I started Brand New School.

What do you do for inspiration?

Some of my favorite design work is from the past, so I suppose I still look to the past for design purity. I also lean on people I work with, especially younger ones, and through my conversations with them I usually become inspired. If that doesn’t work, I draw from my extensive knowledge of 1980s film.

What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?

I guess having a company for nearly 14 years. In this business, it’s a difficult thing to stay relevant and reinvent yourself, all while people are coming and going and things are constantly changing. I think that’s an accomplishment and I certainly haven’t done it alone.

How many hours do you work each week?

Way too many for my age. Even if I’m not busy on a project, I’ll find a way to lose myself in something creative into the wee hours of the night. Honestly, it still doesn’t feel like work.

How do you relax or unwind?

I hang out with my kids. I don’t get to see them much during the week, so I try to spend most of weekends with my family. If I’m not doing that, I walk around New York aimlessly and laugh at the absurd things I see.

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 creative process far more than the outcome. I really enjoy that part of it. As a result, I think the hardest part of my job is having fun amidst all the politics of a project and not letting that adversely affect the creative process or the result. It can be a difficult thing to manage the personalities and conflicts involved in a project  day in and day out. Typically, I get stuck when I don’t understand the problem.

What's the longest you've ever stayed up working on a project?

Four days straight. Oh, it was brutal, but on the morning of the fourth day we popped a really great bottle of wine and laughed about it. It was a mess and ultimately we ended up getting more time to deliver the project. Still, I wouldn’t have traded that experience for anything.

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

It’s easy to get into a position of convincing yourself that you are right, especially when you are the boss. I think I’ve learned that there are plenty of really smart people that I can learn from, no matter how many successes I have under my belt.

Also, despite the humor in my work, I still take what I do very seriously and it’s hard to have complete patience.  I try not let my emotions get in front of my thinking.

What software could you not live without?

Paper, the stuff from trees.

What area of web design lacks the most?

I am most interested in experiential and large scale installation work these days. How the desktop experience integrates with that is something that interests me as well.  

Are there any websites that have shone through as being pioneering in the last 5 years or so?

GE’s smartgrid website stands out as a seminal site, but that was a 5 years ago. I thought the Arcade Fire projects from Google Labs and Chris Milk were great as well. I don’t know if it’s pioneering, but I like what Linked By Air has done for the Whitney redesign.

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

Oh man, no. Thank god.

Are there things you do OUTSIDE of work to ensure that you are in the right mindset to be creative and/or successful in whatever you are doing?

I try to allocate time for myself. That might sound weird, but I am always around others – always thinking, talking, designing, and directing. So it’s nice to sometimes do none of that, just be normal, and get outside. Surfing helps, but it’s hard to do here in NY.

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?

I’m a new adopter of the app Waze and I love it.

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, and it’s more of the norm for us. Since we’re a multidisciplinary company, creating for digital and television, we frequently see commercial campaign ideas jump the fence to interactive and vice-versa.

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’s really liberating and good for us since the bulk of our digital work is out-of-home.

Of all the websites you/your company have produced, which one are you most proud of?

The one we are producing now is really coming along nicely. It’s for our toughest client – ourselves.

There is perhaps a shift in web use these days. We are seeing a decline in the purely experiential sites in flash with huge production efforts, to a relationship with clients based on tools and services, that many times have simples interfaces. How do you see that trend developing? Will Flash suffer?

Flash has already suffered and will continue to. Video is still much sexier and is only getting easier to integrate into visual experiences. Unity is a great tool that I think will outperform Flash, particularly in real-time 3d environments, and is desktop and mobile friendly.

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 think design school is crucial and I wouldn’t recommend that people try to do what I do without it. That being said, the premier art schools are more expensive than Harvard, and I don’t understand how someone who isn’t privileged can afford school without climbing out of student loan debt for a long time.

How do you keep your finger on the pulse of the latest web trends?

I hire young vibrant people and I read a lot.

What does the future hold for your company, or you as a person?

We’re optimistic about the company’s future. We’ve got great leadership and really strong talent. We’ve positioned ourselves well for a myriad of opportunities, which is always the goal. We want to make great work and, for us, it’s always about variety – having different problems to solve and new experiences to shape.

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

I’m excited about working directly with clients to learn more about their business and a more intimate understanding of the challenges they face. We don’t have that kind of relationship when working for advertising agencies. Personally, I have a goal of being liked by my daughter when she is a teenager, so I’m tackling that six years out.

Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?

Not yet.


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