Work sort of exists around the clock for me as a business owner, but I try to make a conscious effort to create separation between work life and home life.
Jimmy Walker, Creative Director & Partner, Bad Assembly
I was born in Northern California and studied painting and fine arts before moving to Los Angeles. I'm a Founding Partner and Creative Director at Bad Assembly. When I'm not working, I enjoy reading (most recently the 'A Song of Ice and Fire' series), video games (mostly RPGs), and watching the Lakers and Arsenal FC.
Please list 3 of your favourite sites.
This one is hard. I think my current three favorite sites are medium.com, reddit.com (for the content, not the design), and maybe Wikipedia. I'm also a very big fan of the gallery section of Cargo.
How many hours do you work each week?
There isn't a consistent number to use as an answer for this since it varies based on the workload of the shop, which tends to come in waves. As an owner I tend to always be thinking about the business in one way or another.
If you weren't working on the internet what would you be doing?
Right now is a very exciting time for the gaming industry across all platforms. I'm a big gamer so I imagine it would have something to do with that field, either designing games or activity critiquing them.
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 my job is being able to help create something, release it into the world, and watch it succeed. The hardest (or least rewarding) part of my job is pitching new work and not landing it, especially when you've dedicated countless hours to the process. When I get stuck, I take a walk, surf the web, grab some coffee, play some FIFA, etc. Inspiration tends to strike when I'm least expecting it.
What's the longest you've ever stayed up working on a project?
I once worked 9am - 6am at the office on a project that was a pitch for a client oversees. Can't remember too many all nighters, though. I don't do well if I don't get sleep.
What software could you not live without?
Photoshop, without a doubt.
In terms of software, is there anything new you have been playing with lately or that has impressed you?
I've been impressed with Sketch by Bohemian Coding. It works well as a tool to quickly get in and mock an idea up without fussing over extraneous details.
Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?
There are so many great ones out there. Right now I'd have to say my three favorites are Teehan Lax, Fantasy Interactive, and R/GA.
Who is your target audience?
We prefer to create interfaces that are clean, simple, and work for everyone, which is why our latest site has a real focus on the removal of unnecessary UI.
Are there any websites that have shone through as being pioneering in the last 5 years or so?
Google's suite of online products has transformed the way I do things online. All of Bad Assembly's email is powered by Gmail, we're constantly using Google docs to collaborate internally, and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't do a Google search and/or use Google maps. In terms of pioneering tools on the web, I don't think anyone is doing it better than Google is.
Has winning FWA awards helped you in any way?
There has always been a lot of prestige surrounding winning FWAs and doing so has helped Bad Assembly tremendously in terms of exposure to both new clients and potential employees.
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
Personally, my first site was a sort of homage to Praystation, where I'd post various flash experiments and designs. That was back when I was in college and first learning flash. Praystation is no longer online.
Bad Assembly's first site was the minimal space odyssey with rainbow blobs, speedboats, and a bird with a jetpack. As a company, we were young and needed something that was memorable and would stand out. It won an FWA and is still accessible from our archive.
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?
Work sort of exists around the clock for me as a business owner, but I try to make a conscious effort to create separation between work life and home life. When I'm not actively working, I focus on slowing down and letting my brain take a break. Reading and gaming are both escapes that allow me to sort of shut down and reenergize. I also feel it's important to be exposed to stimuli from outside your specific field, so I maintain a site called Quadraforce that focuses on non-digital creative for that reason.
What was the toughest thing you ever did with Flash? How long did you spend on it? Is it still online?
The toughest projects for me with Flash were my first few when I was still learning what the heck flash was and how everything worked. Once I learned the ropes, things got a lot easier. Another difficult challenge we still constantly face is optimizing ad units down to 40k and still having them look good.
When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?
When we were just starting out we had to rely almost exclusively on prior reputation. That basically translates into cultivating existing relationships as a means of booking work. Once we had a few projects under our belt, our most effective tool for landing new clients became our website. The fact that it won an FWA went a long way in terms of landing new clients, as well.
What would be your ultimate vehicle to travel in?
Realistically, today I would say the Tesla Model S. It's not only gorgeous but also extremely safe. If we're talking skies-the-limit, then I would say the SR71 Blackbird. There is one at the California Science Center and it's just a beautifully engineered machine. Plus, traveling at mach 3 would be insane.
What is the most expensive thing you have bought in the last week?
The iPhone 5s.
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 don't think that design school is something that is required for entry into the field. I know plenty of very talented people in this industry that have never set foot inside a design class. At the same time, if you want to gain experience in both creating and critiquing work in a competitive environment prior to entering the workforce, then design or art school is a very good place for that.
How have you learned so many Flash/design skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?
Learning by doing is probably the most effective way to develop new skills. This is especially true when it comes to improving your 3D and motion graphics skill sets. Nowadays, there are so many tutorials online that nearly anything you can imagine someone has attempted and put a tutorial up about it.