You have to create your own opportunities without waiting for someone to provide them to you.
I am Phillip Pastore. After living most of my life in northeastern Ohio, I am now a proud resident of New York City. Growing up, I loved drawing, math, and playing video games, and I wanted any new piece of technology. Four years of high school art classes fueled my interest in design as I was introduced to Corel Photo-Paint, Photoshop and Freehand. Being faced with the assignment of a twenty-minute speech in Italian class, I asked if I could make a video instead and did, creating my first video project in Corel Lumiere which solidified my interest in design and media.
While almost deciding on a robotics major in college, I instead attended Kent State University for Visual Communication Design. At the time, there were not many options for a focus on interactive or motion design, so I took it upon myself to independently learn the programs.
Upon graduating with a Master of Arts and Bachelor of Science, I began working for Adcom Communications, an advertising agency in Cleveland, Ohio. I continued to develop my technical skills to include PHP scripting, database integration with Flash, and 3D modeling and animation.
After seven-plus years in Cleveland, I decided to relocate to Brooklyn, New York, where now I am a freelance interactive and motion designer, continuing to expand on my FWA-winning project AMPERGRAM, among other personal projects.
What do you do for inspiration?
There are so many resources for great creative work now, if I want to see what other designers are doing, I look to Behance or Dribbble. If I have a specific problem that I have to solve, I find the best thing is to walk away, close my eyes or sleep on it and it'll come to me.
Please list 3 of your favourite sites.
Where would I be without TheFWA?!? Other than that, my constant go-to sites are Engadget and ESPN.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
The positive feedback and recognition I am receiving from AMPERGRAM alone is definitely one of my biggest achievements. This began as a passion project that I started in my free time. I have invested a lot of myself into it, and it's exciting to see all the hard work pay off. It has always been a huge hope of mine to have a project featured on TheFWA.
How many hours do you work each week?
On average, probably close to 80; during the creation of AMPERGRAM, upwards of 100+. It's weird because I am not required to do that much. I really just enjoy working on my projects.
How do you relax or unwind?
The rare chance that this happens, it's typically through some TV, or video games. I always like a good happy hour or a night out.
What's your favourite part of your job? What's the hardest part of your job? What do you do when you get stuck?
The best part is when something works, and similarly the hardest part is when something breaks. When I get stuck, I search to find answers online. When I really get stuck, I walk away, not think about it for a while, and then come back and try to solve the problem.
What's the longest you've ever stayed up working on a project?
Through design school there were many all-nighters. Also I have been a part of The 48 Hour Film Project a few times. Through all of my projects, at some point I would say between 48 and 72 hours. Long enough to become giddy.
What software could you not live without?
Flash. As much as the world changes and begins to forget Flash, it is a great tool that allows me to quickly create a functional interface that I have in my mind. I assume that I will one day replace Flash, but that has not happened yet.
How many projects does your company juggle at any one time?
Well, I cannot currently speak for a company, but I have worked on five or so at a time. Several company projects during normal business hours, mixed with some freelance and personal projects after hours.
Has winning FWA awards helped you in any way?
The project has gained great exposure and is continuing to grow. Additionally, winning the FWA award has given me more drive than I had before, just to make every project the best I know it can be and make sure it is always FWA-worthy.
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
I made a digital portfolio in Flash in 1998. It was on an auto-loading CD, showcasing some of my print design, video work, and photography. A textured teal background, terrible shape tweens, and instrumental music from popular movies. Fun stuff — but you have to start somewhere.
Looking 10 years in to the future, how far can websites go?
It will be interesting to see some website concepts for Google Glass. Wearable computing, 3D, fully-immersive content, Minority Report or Iron-Man style interfaces and interaction come to mind. This will largely depend on what innovations happen with hardware.
Of all the websites you/your company have produced, which one are you most proud of?
As my latest work, I am most proud of AMPERGRAM. This website is the most expansive demonstration of my abilities, and has become a full portfolio in itself. From the initial concept, branding, UX/UI design, Flash development, PHP scripting and MySQL database creation and integration, WordPress customization, mobile development through AIR, and even a motion graphic promo video, AMPERGRAM really captures my range of capabilities all in one project.
What was the toughest thing you ever did with Flash? How long did you spend on it? Is it still online?
Tough is definitely subjective. I remember getting into AS3 the first time. That was tough. If I look back at that project now, there was nothing to it. AMPERGRAM has been difficult, but has been a great learning process. Just integrating other technologies and enabling the content's functionality to work on mobile was a great challenge to overcome.
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
I would like to think so, but it looks like it is slowly leaving. It may somehow stay around in order to develop more advanced gaming. Additionally if the authoring software continues to improve its ability to publish through non-Flash platforms, that could help its future.
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 simple interfaces. How do you see that trend developing? Will Flash suffer?
There is definitely a shift. Thankfully most websites with intros have died down. I think that this trend will continue in the direction of simpler, non-Flash websites. Micro-sites will still be created using Flash, relying on the purely experiential moments.
It seems that the thought process these days is, "What can we build that is unique and does not use Flash?" With this mindset, innovative designers and developers may push non-Flash technology to the next level, but the overall design or experience may still be lacking. I'd love to see designers use Flash's depth to innovate all web experiences and create something truly unique that spans all technology platforms.
What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?
Sure. There is great talent from some amazing people who never stepped foot in a traditional school, but I would suspect those same people have been inspired to learn on the internet or through books on design. School can be whatever learning source you want to call it. My design education taught me to focus on the details and demanded perfection in hand skills before using the computer to create. I am grateful for this, as I feel it has made me more detail-oriented.
Regardless of education — for every amazing, innovative designer, there are ten others with good intentions that are performing on a completely substandard level.
If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring FWA award submitter, what advice would you give them?
Work on what you want. The project of mine on TheFWA was not a client project; it was something which I was passionate about and I put time in around the clock to see it come together. If you have a vision, build it. It is a great feeling to see people from all of the world using and enjoying something that you have built. You have to create your own opportunities without waiting for someone to provide them to you.
What would be your ultimate vehicle to travel in?
After just moving to NYC, I am not sure that there is an ultimate vehicle. Possibly teleportation, whenever we can figure out that one.
How have you learned so many Flash/design skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?
Know your market. When I set out to build AMPERGRAM, I wanted it to be developed in Flash, but I knew it had to work on the iPhone. Luckily, I was able to publish an app in AIR and now we have 95% of our mobile downloads on iPhone, pushing a very large portion of continual traffic to the website.
How do you keep your finger on the pulse of the latest web trends?
I am not sure that I do. Award and design websites are great, but there is so much to keep up with, it is difficult to know where to turn and what project should have your focus. Some of the most innovative ideas could just get skipped over because of clutter.
There must be a project that you have always dreamed of doing, what is it?
There is a personal project of mine that I've worked on for around a year that I'm very excited about. Unfortunately, I can't say more than that, but if and when it launches I will be sure to let TheFWA get an exclusive! :)
What does the future hold for your company, or you as a person?
I am extremely devoted to my personal projects. I will continue to work with AMPERGRAM to add functionality and make the experience better, along with creating other new projects.
Other than that, I've started a new job which is very exciting for me. It is demanding, but I will learn more technical skills and grow as a designer and developer. As long as I am able to continue to do that, then I am happy.
It has been a privilege, thanks very much
I am honored to be able to answer these questions for you and your readers!