A good story is good not because it happens online or offline. Too often we trumpet the technology over the story because we think that is the unique differentiator.
I was gonna be an astronaut until I decided writing about adventures would be more possible that enduring 10g’s. So journalism looked like a good bet. But maybe social sciences would help me understand things better? So Anthropology came knocking. I’m pretty good at drawing so maybe I could work that into the equation? Alright Scientific Illustration it is. But that required design classes which introduced a whole new level of problem solving. Love it. Sign me up for that. 20 years later I’m still figuring out what I want to do for a living. I’ve been at DK for about a decade and we’ve constantly evolved as we learn and invent new ways to start a conversation and tell a story.
What do you do for inspiration?
I have two young boys that humble and inspire me everyday. I’m building a kitplane in my garage. Physically building something over many years helps me learn new skills from metal construction to electrical work. It’s mundane day-to-day but very inspiring to see what you can learn outside of your comfort zone.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
Professionally, it’s been creating a team at DK that will attack any challenge with surprising results.
I probably average 50-60 at work. More time when traveling or directing shoots.
How do you relax or unwind?
I started taking exercise seriously about 2 years ago and discovered not only does it help me physically, it makes the stress of work much more manageable. The endurance workouts really sharpen your mental discipline too.
Well as you read above, I’m pretty restless and up for learning new stuff all the time. Right now professional pilot sounds good.
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 part of the job is seeing young people come in and grow into very effective communicators and innovators. The hardest part is getting the work done while still finding the time to stay inspired. When I get really stuck I usually try to read a book. Right now I’m on a Sci-Fi kick— Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson.
What's the longest you've ever stayed up working on a project?
I would guess it was a stop motion shoot that lasted about 36 hours.
What software could you not live without?
Photoshop. Obvious, I know, but true.
How many projects does your company juggle at any one time?
Always seems like our job sheet hovers around two dozen or so projects in various states of pitching or production.
In terms of software, is there anything new you have been playing with lately or that has impressed you?
Sort of in a dry spell new tools wise. Trying to learn Rhino to do more 3d printing work.
Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?
I hate lists and would say there’s too many great one’s to narrow it down to three.
What area of web design lacks the most?
Storytelling. I think the most challenging thing to express is a narrative that captures your point of view. That which connects you and makes you unique simultaneously.
No books. Let me survive early childhood parenting. Then maybe I’ll have something valuable to add to the discourse.
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’m a big believer in living a balanced life. I don’t think I’m at my best if I am spending everyday working and not having new experiences that will inform future work. So yes I try to do a lot things OUTSIDE of work. Running, making beer, building stuff, raising a family are some of them.
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?
The one that makes a lot of sense to me was our work for the Dodge Journey World Wide World campaign. The team from DK and Wieden+Kennedy took the simple idea of a scavenger hunt and turned it into a national game. The fact that one could have an engaging experience whether they were actively looking for the vehicle or just following along online made for a really compelling achievement socially.
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?
Well the Dodge campaign used TV as a driver to the digital experience which I think was unique. Usually TV leads the campaign concept with the major arcs always emanating from traditional media. In the Dodge Journey case, those buys were used to drive folks to the main experience which transpired entirely online in real time.
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?
Yes most definitely. A good story is good not because it happens online or offline. Too often we trumpet the technology over the story because we think that is the unique differentiator. Now that everything is essentially online that ain’t so unique. Digital-to-Physical manifestations like Stanley Piano are a new frontier that we’re really excited to explore.
Looking 10 years in to the future, how far can websites go?
Well, I think we’ll stop calling them websites. What we experience online will be harder to differentiate from our real life. It will be a much more seamless. An instant experience that “feels” natural. Computers and Smartphones of today will seem as quaint and clunky as CD walkmans of the 90s. The web metaphor might become more mirror-like as content becomes more reflexive and context aware.
Of all the websites you/your company have produced, which one are you most proud of?
Stanley Piano. Because it enabled an experience that went beyond simulation.
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?
Yes. This seems like old news to me but I think most folks see the handwriting on the wall for Flash as an authoring tool.
What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?
School alone won’t get you a job, but it can give you exposure to the ever-deepening traditions within art and technology that are at the heart of everything we create. That said it you do not have to go to an expensive “known” school to achieve success. At the end of the day you need to educate yourself in a way that is right for you and not expect a degree to guarantee anything.
If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring FWA award submitter, what advice would you give them?
Have a point of view and be willing to sacrifice a lot of time and effort in order to get your voice heard.
What would be your ultimate vehicle to travel in?
Those cross continent vacuum tubes Elon Musk is developing sound like fun. But if I had to travel today I’d be happy with a solar-powered airplane.
When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?
Getting our work out there and seen as has been the most effective method for me.
How do you keep your finger on the pulse of the latest web trends?
A good old conversation works the best for me.
What country excites you the most in terms of innovation?
Borders seem less important these days in terms of finding innovative thinking. Maybe I’m a homer but I think the US provides the best balance of stability, rewarding risk, and solid funding options to generate the most innovation.
There must be a project that you have always dreamed of doing, what is it?
What does the future hold for your company, or you as a person?
Who really knows what the future holds, but I do think we are creating a special environment at DK that will combine story, craft and invention in unique ways. At the end of the day we should be in service of the audience and user alike. Only through empathy and insight can we create truly meaningful engagements.
What are you excited about learning next and is there a long term challenge you are considering tackling?
One thing I love about my job is that I’m never not learning something. Long term I’d love to create more powerful connections between individuals and communities.
What is the most expensive thing you have bought in the last week?
We refinanced the house. That’s enough for one week right? I also splurged on a LEGO Minecraft kit.-
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
Be yourself. Have fun. Never stop.
It has been a privilege, thanks very much
Thank you for having me.