I believe you have to be very open minded when trying to solve problems and that thinking with only one perspective can hinder you. Sometimes the solution to a problem can be immediately apparent. When it’s not, I like to take in everything about the problem and then experiment with all sorts of combinations until one sticks out as the best.

question Please give us a brief bio of yourself.

I am currently a multidisciplinary creative specializing in direction, design, branding, motion, print, and all things interactive. I have 10+ years of experience and as you can see, I tend to have a great amount of interests and love learning new things which usually expands my capacity. I live in Los Angeles and I’m a Creative Director at Tool of North America.

I have always had a fascination with the convergence of art, design, music, technology, and life. When I was young I would be constantly drawing and dreaming up inventions. Playing video games and sports were also some of my favorite past times and I think I learned a lot from them. I never knew all of that would lead me to a career that allows me to continue my creative ventures every day. 

What do you do for inspiration?

I usually do the normal stuff like skim some of my favorite sources on the internet, thumb through my library of books, watch a movie, flip through magazines, or unplug and go out into nature or the city. Super talented friends and coworkers are also great at inspiring me to push my creativity.

Please list 3 of your favourite sites.

1. Vimeo  

2. SoundCloud

3. Behance

What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?

Marrying my beautiful wife. This may be a corny answer, but it’s true!

How many hours do you work each week?

Generally 40-45. I try to keep it to those numbers so that I can stay fresh and not overworked, but deadlines can push us to 60 hours sometimes.

How do you relax or unwind?

I like to take a walk or go out to dinner or the beach with my wife, our puppy, and friends. I also love playing basketball and surfing. Getting a massage once in a while to loosen my shoulders from hunching over a computer is a great way to relax as well.

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

Movies, art, or photography.

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 is creating something amazing and useful with our incredibly talented team.

The hardest part is setting boundaries and maintaining a good work / life balance. 

When I get stuck, I have to take a break and let my brain play. It allows me to relax and then ideas begin to flow.

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

30 or so hours. It was for a hard deadline on a site I designed and developed. It’s the worst to push your body and mind like that. It may seem like you’re awesome for working so hard and all of that, but it’s really not good for you. Your body needs sleep and your brain needs rest to function well and for the long-term.

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

I think the most pivotal experience that most shaped my career was receiving my family's love and support for my creative dreams. 

The most pivotal decision was when my parents decided to get a computer and a clip-art program. I spent so many summer days painting and designing on the computer before I ever knew it could be a career. I even use to download Photoshop 4 trials in attempt to make basketball and surf posters for my room. I did it because it was fun and I was naturally drawn to art & design.

What software could you not live without?

I would have to say my phone’s communication & mapping software. Most of the other software I use and work with are expendable when it comes to life & death :)

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

I generally juggle two to four projects. Juggling multiple projects is doable, but it’s also nice to focus all my energy into one at a time and make it as great as I can. Then move on to the next one.

In terms of software, is there anything new you have been playing with lately or that has impressed you?

Kinect & leap motion software have been pretty fun and impressive for our crew to explore. I am interested in processing performance art. I also enjoy learning motion graphics and 3D software. 

What area of web design lacks the most?

To me, “web design” is not just the aesthetic but also the development of the site and how well they mix. So I would have to say browser/device support because I feel that it limits both design and development the most.

I think the entire industry could be so much further if we weren’t spending so much time working on supporting different vendor cross-browser, multi-device issues. It will be a great time when you can have the coolest cutting edge designs that utilize the best technology has to offer and it works on every browser and every device. Hopefully this is possible in the near future.

Has winning FWA awards helped you in any way?

It certainly has. Winning an FWA signifies that you’re doing great, industry leading work. I strive to do the best I can and it helps to be affirmed by the FWA that my efforts are at a high level. Clients also like hiring award winning creatives, and it can help increase their trust in you.

When dealing with major clients, how difficult is it to meet the needs of such wide target audiences?

It can be difficult at times, but generally a good amount of research and finding the core values that are driving the project can help you discover a few solutions. Asking the right questions will also help you navigate to the right solutions.

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

It’s not online anymore, but it was pretty fun for a first site. I learned Flash’s Action Script before learning HTML, so my first site was fully Flash with some great animations and page transitions and was designed for a youth group using grungy hand drawn type. It was 2005, and I was pretty proud of it.

Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?

I haven’t, but it would be fun to write one someday.

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?

Yes, I try to enjoy life and refresh my mind so that when it comes to work I am ready to jump in and don’t feel stressed or tired. This entails numerous things that get me away from my computer and out experiencing this great world.

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 was a lead creative on our Rectify project (mylifein20years.com) that promoted a Sundance original show. The lead character of the show was accused of murder, but after 20 years he was set free on a technicality and then had to adjust to regular life again. To promote the show, we used Facebook’s connect api to dynamically write a futuristic narrative where users were put into the same situation of the show’s main character but 20 years in the future. We created a futuristic social network where people could explore the past and discover why they were in prison and why they lost so many friends all the while being introduced to the plot and characters of the show. The project was a success, it was an Emmy nominee, and a blast to concept, design, and direct.

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?

I believe you have to be very open minded when trying to solve problems and that thinking with only one perspective can hinder you. Sometimes the solution to a problem can be immediately apparent. When it’s not, I like to take in everything about the problem and then experiment with all sorts of combinations until one sticks out as the best. 

Looking 10 years in to the future, how far can websites go?

I think websites can continue to progress with cross browser adaptations of new technologies like webGL which will increase the browser experience, but we’ll have to see if every browser vendor wants to join in on the fun.

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

At this time, probably the Tool site ( toolofna.com ). 

We needed a site that not only easily displayed our 200+ award-winning projects and gave equal representation to our directors, but also demonstrated our abilities and level of craft. I directed and designed it while working on a few other client projects which made it more difficult to manage, but our team did an incredible job developing both the desktop and mobile versions of the site.

It won an FWA SOTD and was Adobe's The Cutting Edge Project of the Week.

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

The toughest thing I did was create an entire site on my own using Flash AS3 and Papervision3D. I spent 4-5 months on it and it’s still up. It was made back in 2009 for one of the best NBA 3 point shooters, Kyle Korver : http://www.kylekorver.com 

Do you think Flash is here to stay?

Most say no, but it's hard to say it will go away completely. Flash is still great for games or interactive kiosks and is currently supported on more browsers and archived browsers than WebGL and others like it...so who knows maybe that will change. I know less people are developing with Flash and that could lead it into extinction.

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 wrestled with this myself when I was a student. I went to a university and I have a degree, but halfway through I felt like I was learning more from my own ambitions, experiments, and the internet. I finished school because I wanted to have a degree and learn more things from more people outside of my craft.

I think the best thing is to know yourself. If you are obsessed about the details and driven to learn as much as you can on your own about great design and typography, and if you have a solid network of seasoned creatives giving you feedback, then I think you can make it without going to school. If you know you are not these things yet, then go to school.

I must admit, near the end of my university education I learned a ton from my professors who were proven published creatives. Going through some of their really tough critiques where I had to present and defend my thinking in front of people in the same room as me was stretching but it really prepared me for my career. That’s experience I don’t think you always get on your own…but then again, we now have Skype and Google hangouts so maybe it’s possible.

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

It’s very difficult, especially now that everyone also calls themselves an Art Director. I love it when a prospect can not only think creatively, but also has the skill set to execute their ideas and designs beautifully. Execution is just as important as having a creative idea and vice versa. A good attitude and a friendly personality are also essential.

What would be your ultimate vehicle to travel in?

A real flying Iron Man suite.

When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?

Pushing myself to create the best designs I could possibly dream up. People will notice smart original work that's very refined. Being personable can also go a long way to getting and keeping clients.

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

Many many hours of hard work, being resourceful, and prayer. Just don't give up when you hit a roadblock. Keep pushing to improve your skills, don't copy, and look for opportunities to help others with your skill set. A great network of friends and creatives will also help you grow into a better designer / developer / person.

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

Twitter is great for this, especially for finding out what people are doing with the latest technologies.

There must be a project that you have always dreamed of doing, what is it?

There are so many…I would say designing and building my own house would be a lot of fun. Making a film would be high on the list as well as an art installation.

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

Not quite sure, and not too worried about it. I would like to travel some, but right now I'm enjoying my family and that I get to be creative in my job every day.

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

I want to start expanding my ideas into film and directing. Hopefully, I will have the same success as I have had in design, but if not, it will just be fun to learn and experiment with.

Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?

If you strive to do great work and be a great person, great things will follow. Also, make sure to make time to enjoy this life, the people around you, and take care of yourself.

It has been a privilege, thanks very much

Thank you Rob, and thanks for the FWA!


Michael Sevilla
Michael Sevilla

Rectify : MyLifeIn20Years.com
Rectify : MyLifeIn20Years.com

JFK : AnIdeaLivesOn.org
JFK : AnIdeaLivesOn.org

Playstation : GT6FirstLove.com
Playstation : GT6FirstLove.com

Google : ArtCopyCode.com/#/watchfilm/
Google : ArtCopyCode.com/#/watchfilm/


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