"It's OK" is the mortal enemy of "it's awesome!"
My name is Rodrigo Piazza Julio RIbeiro, I'm a 41 years old brazilian and I'm Perverte's owner and creative director. I started my career in 1993 working as an art director at a small, but very creative, advertising agency. From 1997 to 1998 I worked at Publicis, which was great, because I had the opportunity to work in big projects and with big clients. A little earlier, in 1995, I fell in love with a strange new thing called the internet and started doing some webdesign freelance work. It was such an amazing experience. Everything was new, there were a lot of experimentation, a lot of limitations and, of course, a crazy amount of green text on dark backgrounds accompanied by animated GIFs. :)
The love for that unexplored territory led me to quit my job at Publicis and to start a very small webdesign company with my brother Fabricio in 1999. In 2003 we started a partnership with another small company. That didn't worked as well as I planned and in 2005 we ended that. In 2006 I started Perverte and have been working as the creative director since then.
What do you do for inspiration?
I try to keep my mind open to a variety of information and stimuli. I certify myself that my neurons find the proper conditions to make those unexpected connections! Sometimes just staring at the trees outside is enough to inspire.
Please list 3 of your favourite sites.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
Definitely the decision to start Perverte 6 years ago.
How many hours do you work each week?
Well, it depends on how many projects we're working and how big they are (and how close is the deadline). That said, I usually work about 60-70 hours each week. But most of the time I'm having fun anyway, so... :)
How do you relax or unwind?
I'm a pretty simple guy. Lately I've been trying to play more guitar (sorry, neighbours!). I played until I was 18 or 19 years old and then I stupidly stopped. I love music, so that tends to make me relax and forget a little about work. I also enjoy watching movies, cooking and playing with the family dog.
If you weren't working on the internet what would you be doing?
I would probably be working at a graphic design studio. Sometimes I miss working in CMYK. But that feeling doesn't last too long, maybe 10 or 15 miliseconds. :)
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 favourite part is the beginning of a project. When everything is still pretty much uncertain and the possibilities are almost endless. Running ideas with the team, brainstorming, discussing concepts. That really excites me. The hardest part is having a great idea killed by ignorance or fear. That really sucks. And whenever I get stuck, I just do something else for a while, drink a triple espresso that is as dense as oil, daydream about being a rockstar, that kind of stuff. But what helps the most is to talk to the other people in the agency. We have such an amazing team which I can always count on when I'm not on my best day.
What's the longest you've ever stayed up working on a project?
Oh, I wish I could tell you that I've stayed up for 72 hours running on intravenous caffeine or something like that. But the fact is: a tired mind is the worst enemy of good work. Guess the longest I've stayed up working on a project was 18-20 hours. After that, the only working brain cells are those responsible for breathing. You might as well just go home, sleep and get back to work the next day.
If there are any pivotal experiences/decisions you could point to that helped shape your career, what would they be?
The decision to quit an established carrer as an art director in (traditional) advertising to pursue a dream to open my own business and work directly with internet. That was quite a bet, since the web was still in its early years, there weren't big budgets (if any), I mean, pretty much an uncharted territory. I'm really happy and proud with the work that we've been doing and can't imagine myself doing anything else. So, that was definitely a pivotal decision.
What software could you not live without?
iOS and Photoshop.
How many projects does your company juggle at any one time?
It varies, but I'd say about 8 to 10 projects simultaneously.
In terms of software, is there anything new you have been playing with lately or that has impressed you?
We're really impressed with the possibilities that are enabled by CreateJS. And, of course, some of the stuff that are being made with WebGL are just insane!
Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?
There are a lot of great companies out there doing some amazing design work. But I absolutely love the work of Firstborn, North Kingdom and Fi.
What effect on traffic do your new designs have?
Design plays a very important role in our work. But we're more of a beauty+function kind of company. We believe that those two, together with strategy and content, are the key to a good online experience. Also, one of our goals is to innovate/improve a little bit in each and every project that we develop. It can be a small thing... a better form validation for example. So, the combination of a new and fresh design with a cool functionality leads to a boost in traffic, that's for sure.
Who is your target audience?
Well, we work for a variety of clients from diverse segments, so, pretty much everybody I guess.
What area of web design lacks the most?
I'd say writing. The vast majority of the websites out there still feature boring, dull, safe writing. It's really annoying.
Has winning FWA awards helped you in any way?
Too early to say, but I'm sure that it most definitely will help us. And of course it gave an enormous boost on our pride and the certainty that we must be doing something right. :)
When dealing with major clients, how difficult is it to meet the needs of such wide target audiences?
Sometimes it can be a little frustrating. Some cool features get killed because we realize that they won't be supported in earlier browser versions and the budget or deadline doesn't allow us to build an alternate version for this cases. At the same time these kind of situations provide great creative/technical challenges. And we love challenges!
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
It was a freelance work I did for a webdesign company, actually. It was the company's website (curious, no? It was a webdesign company and they outsourced the design part!). And no, it's no longer online. Thank god - otherwise it would be humiliating.
Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?
Nope. And I don't think that is going to happen. But I designed a few books. Does that count?
What was the toughest thing you ever did with Flash? How long did you spend on it? Is it still online?
It was a website that featured a 3D central structure (3 buildings: one castle, one factory and one modern farm) created with Away3D. The user could drag and turn this structure 360 degrees. The background featured a parallax effect that also turned together with the central structure - and there were some small animations attached to it. And if it wasn't enough, we added little 3D guys walking around the scene. And all of this was integrated with Twitter's API, so that whenever a user tweeted something to our client's Twitter account, one of those guys would stop walking and a balloon containing the tweet would pop over its head. It was pretty insane. Mostly because we hadn't seen anything like it before. No references. I guess we spent 3 months from concept to deploy. And obscene amounts of coffee and Red Bull were consumed through endless days, nights and weekends! :)
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring FWA award submitter, what advice would you give them?
Always, always, always aim to make cool stuff. And pay attention to every little detail. They matter so much and they make all the difference.
What would be your ultimate vehicle to travel in?
USS Enterprise! And a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO for the short trips.
When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?
We've always tried to make cool and innovative stuff since the beginning. And it paid off especially with referrals and networking.
How do you keep your finger on the pulse of the latest web trends?
Well, I try to keep up by reading blogs, following some top developers' and creatives Twitter profiles and, of course, visiting The FWA on a regular basis. But I also rely on the information my team shares. We have a very collaborative environment, and this kind of information is shared within the agency pretty easily. We also dedicate a few work hours to internal projects, especifically designed so that we can get in touch with some of the new trends and capabilities.
What country excites you the most in terms of innovation?
I have to say Sweden. I don't know... there must be something in the water up there. They're amazing!
What does the future hold for your company, or you as a person?
Hopefully we can keep working with amazing clients that share our vision and enable us to do creative and innovative work.
What is the most expensive thing you have bought in the last week?
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
"It's OK" is the mortal enemy of "it's awesome!"
It has been a privilege, thanks very much
Oh no, the privilege is all mine! It has been an honour. Thank you very much!