I still like starting a project where I don't really know what's going on and dig deeper and learn how to do things as I go along. Until now I've always finished projects in time and got things working. Maybe it's the challenge that makes the outcome even more rewarding…
Please give us a brief bio of yourself.
I'm a 30 year old coding designer, currently working at Feinheit GmbH in Zürich as an interactive art director, frontend-developer and creative coder, designing and making sites and applications.
Most of the time in my life I've been working as a freelancer, and I still kinda am. Working by myself is a great experience up to a certain point, I enjoy being self-responsible and independent. But to solve bigger projects in a certain time frame it's pretty good to have a team around you to exchange expertise and ideas. Here at Feinheit we have a great bunch of project managers, creatives, designers/illustrators and coders to work with and realise big and exciting projects. And we even find the time to work on inhouse projects like feinCMS, Metronom and lately Pingwin, where I was involved a lot and which won us a mobile FWA award.
What do you do for inspiration?
Looking at some of my favorite websites sometimes in a manic ramp until the dots connect. But it's also very necessary to go out and look at what the world offers right in that moment. Let my mind drift off. It's also quite important to talk to people and connect, which can be very inspiring and lead to crazy innovations.
Please list 3 of your favourite sites.
That would be CreativeApplications.Net as it has so many inspiring projects, the Flipboard App, I know it's not a website, but I look at it at least once a day and it's such a smooth way of reading feeds, and thecreatorsproject
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
Being able to teach myself. When I really want to do something, I just go for it and find out how to do it. Actually coming from a graphic design background I was interested in programming and Flash coding so I just taught myself how to do it and kept going.
So the biggest achievements are always the new projects I just finished. Like right now - its Pingwin!
How many hours do you work each week?
I work 40-45 hours, and try to keep extra hours to a minimum. I think a lot of work is actually done by not physically working but letting your brain shift around and come back to the project with a fresh perspective. But I am always juggling between work and my own side projects. There is so much I want to explore.
How do you relax or unwind?
I go bouldering, that frees my mind. Physical exercise can be magical after sitting on the computer all day. Bouldering challenges you every time and you can be outdoors if you want. I like that. Also I can't help it but coding, mainly iOS and openFrameworks at the moment, can be really relaxing sometimes.
If you weren't working on the internet what would you be doing?
Well, probably I'd be a carpenter living in a small cabin by the ocean going surfing every day. But since computers and the internet do exist, it's like a provocation to me. I want to find out what's possible and play around in the digital world. I might become a carpenter when I am old and move back to the sea.
What's your favourite part of your job? What's the hardest part of your job? What do you do when you get stuck?
It's so rewarding to actually tackle a problem, when all the pieces come together into a final product. Repeat the same task one time too often and you get stuck. That's when I love the place I am in, being able to shift between design and code. Which on one side is very confusing some days, but it also keeps things interesting and gives me the possibility to look at things from different perspectives. The only thing that really helps if I do get stuck, is to step away, loosen the narrow focus of the brain. But getting to the point to realise that is a challenge every time…
If there are any pivotal experiences/decisions you could point to that helped shape your career, what would they be?
I learned Flash back then by saying yes to a lot of projects, without actually knowing how to solve them. But as I knew someone else sure did, I knew it was possible. This way I learnt heaps.
I still like starting a project where I don't really know what's going on and dig deeper and learn how to do things as I go along. Until now I've always finished projects in time and got things working. Maybe it's the challenge that makes the outcome even more rewarding… Yes, I think this approach to tackle projects is what probably got me to where I am today.
How many projects does your company juggle at any one time?
That varies, at Feinheit we work in 3 teams and each team has its own focus and projects. Depending on the size and timeframe of projects, the number of projects at one time ranges between 1-12 per team. Usually there are a few bigger projects, some smaller ones, and several long term projects.
In terms of software, is there anything new you have been playing with lately or that has impressed you?
For Pingwin I really enjoyed using the Sparrow-Framework, coming from Flash it was very easy to get into to the Objective-C part using the Flash style syntax. It's quite interesting to see how the Starling-Framework, which is a Flash port of Sparrow, develops and how it will be using the two.
Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?
That's a tough question, there are so many different agencies and as many different styles. But to name a few – I enjoy projects by North Kingdom, Hi-Res!, iA, Hinderling Volkart, Resn and the list goes on…
Who is your target audience?
Everyone who wants to involve, mobilise and inspire her or his audience.
Are there any websites that have shone through as being pioneering in the last 5 years or so?
Definitely RO.ME which was quite mind-blowing. But there a so many great things popping up at the moment.
Has winning FWA awards helped you in any way?
It sure did, I won a mobile FWA for Muffin-Pop, a simple game based on some illustrations I made, and the award was quite a traffic boost. It's also a very comforting feedback.
What was the toughest thing you ever did with Flash? How long did you spend on it? Is it still online?
I build a 3D flipbook-style magazine with papervision3D, including video, images gallery and and and. Unfortunately it never saw the light of day, as it was for a project under NDA and just before it was about to launch the iPad came out. So they decided to focus on that. But I still think it's a great project, and it was a lot of fun getting it to work.
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
It has and still will have its place in the web, but its appearance will keep on decreasing due to the capabilities of html5 and modern browsers. But with the turn to mobile devices and AIR apps it will definitely stay around. I think it's a lot a fun coding in Flash and I am looking forward to the next news from Adobe.
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 am mainly self taught, due to being interested and just wanting to explore. There sure are a few things that are good to learn/know through an educational institution, though I missed the practical experience a lot, which in the end for me is the only way to learn. But fortunately there are some universities and schools that focus on the latter.
How do you keep your finger on the pulse of the latest web trends?
Twitter and Feeds, at the moment I feel like I've quite the right set of people to follow and blogs to read.
What does the future hold for your company, or you as a person?
I'd really like to build more physical objects and installations, using openFrameworks and Arduino. Even though I don't know how to yet, as time is limited, but I am pretty sure I will one day. Building things with my hands is something I enjoy and being able to connect this with programming and the digital domain is what really sparks my interest.
For Feinheit it has been an exciting year and work is becoming more exciting by the week - with social media gaining more momentum and with millions of new online-ideas being thought out every day out there, we are having a lot of fun exploring this growing world of opportunities and experiences for our clients.
What are you excited about learning next and is there a long term challenge you are considering tackling?
I hope to find the time to dig deeper into openFrameworks, c++ and Arduino. Also, as I just explained, moving from the online world into the world of physical objects is one of my current goals.
What is the most expensive thing you have bought in the last week?
I actually just got myself a new macbook air – and it's sooo damn light.
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
'He who knows all the answers has not been asked all the questions.'
It has been a privilege, thanks very much
Thanks to you!