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.
Please give us a brief bio of yourselves.
I am Gerhard (GK), 33 years of age and have been working with interactive media for over 13 years now. After working as an electrician for some reason I decided to do an internship at some Webagency and got stuck. Three years later I found myself in Hamburg germany studying Graphics and Communication Design– this is where Manolis and I met.
After graduating I started working for an advertising agency. Gladly now, 6 years later I managed to escape and am now at Content Fleet where I'm in a Creative Director Position.
I'm Manolis (MP), a 30 year old coding designer, currently working in Zürich/Berlin 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 (link), 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.
What do you do for inspiration?
GK: Mostly I'm reading feeds all night until my eyes are sore. Then I jump into my car the next morning and head off for a day at the ocean.
MP: 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.
MP: 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?
GK: To finally be where I want to be.
So the biggest achievements are always the new projects I just finished.
How many hours do you work each week?
GK: About 50
MP: 40-45 hours, 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?
GK: I go outside, take pictures of life or sometimes beat up my drum kit.
MP: 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.
What's your favourite part of your job? What's the hardest part of your job? What do you do when you get stuck?
GK: I love to simplify complexity and that would be the most difficult part of my work. Whe I get stuck in the process I usually listen to my fav music - but it has to be really loud!
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.
If there are any pivotal experiences/decisions you could point to that helped shape your career, what would they be?
GK: Probably when my older brother introduced me to Photoshop–that's when it all started.
MP: 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.
What software could you not live without?
How many projects does your company juggle at any one time?
GK: Many ;)
In terms of software, is there anything new you have been playing with lately or that has impressed you?
GK: I just switched from Cinema 4d to Blender and it really kills me…
Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?
MP: I enjoy projects by North Kingdom, Hi-Res!, Hinderling Volkart, Resn and the list goes on…
Who is your target audience?
GK: Big Magazines and Media corporates.
MP: Everyone who wants to involve, mobilize and inspire her or his audience.
Are there any websites that have shone through as being pioneering in the last 5 years or so?
Has winning FWA awards helped you in any way?
GK: It's definitely a huge pat on the shoulder for our first self initiated collaboration. Also it's a motivation for the next projects that are already knocking on the door.
MP: We've been working on various projects together and truly complement each other when working as a team. Winning the FWA for Super SpongeBash (http://itunes.apple.com/de/app/ spongebash/id517595532?mt=8) our first project that isn't client based is a real gratification!
When dealing with major clients, how difficult is it to meet the needs of such wide target audiences?
GK: Well that's the other side of the job and there are times when I would really love to quit my job and become a Shepard. So many clients don't really know what they want. You actually have to guide them and be open and upfront with them - I think that's the best way for working together.
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
GK: It was a site for my first band and thank god it is no longer online :)
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?
GK: Playing music
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?
GK: I like digital stuff that can improve or entertain me in my offline life.
What was the toughest thing you ever did with Flash? How long did you spend on it? Is it still online?
GK: It was a website for Sandra Nasic the singer of teethe Guano Apes. We worked on the illustration and development for about 6 moths - it really was a great project.
What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?
GK: For sure! Schools and Universities can only give you a direction but you have to do the biggest and hardest part by yourself. If someone is really interested in design they can definitely do it.
MP: 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.
If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring FWA award submitter, what advice would you give them?
GK: Learn as much as you can from people you admire and never neglect your own projects!
How difficult do you find employing the right people in a world where everyone calls themselves a web designer?
GK: I first look at the self initiated projects of the applicants - if they can't convince me the client work won't do it either.
How have you learned so many Flash/design skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?
GK: I've always learned through new projects and new challenges and that's the best way for learning things.
How do you keep your finger on the pulse of the latest web trends?
GK: I read a lot of feeds and talk to other designers.
What country excites you the most in terms of innovation?
There must be a project that you have always dreamed of doing, what is it?
GK: A giant oldschool Bomberman Battle.
What are you excited about learning next and is there a long term challenge you are considering tackling?
GK: I would love to learn the Wet Plate technique.
What is the most expensive thing you have bought in the last week?
GK: I indulge in a Fuji X-Pro 1.
It has been a privilege, thanks very much
Thanks to you.