I reckon that this “No interface” thinking is going to be the future. Just think about google glass and similar devices. After this we’re going to have contact lenses and nano technology. We don’t need these “old school” interfaces anymore.
Sami: I am currently the Creative head of TBWA\ Digital Arts Network \ Hong Kong and Global Executive Creative director of TBWA\ Infiniti Luxury Art Studios. I have been a co-founder in several start-ups and the culture is deeply rooted to my thinking.
Herbert: I was trained as a Computer Engineer, but I have a love for visuals hence I worked in the game industry for many years creating works that people can touch, feel and see.
Ric: I'm a salesman behind a typewriter. Originally a Marketing Masters student from the UK, I now work in Hong Kong. I started out with OgilvyOne after becoming a finalist in their " Search for the World's Greatest Salesperson" contest, at Cannes in 2010. I've had stints at JWT, the National Geographic, FOX International Channels, and Red Bull. I'm now Senior Copywriter at TBWA.
What do you do for inspiration?
Ric: I read and watch a lot of gadget related programs and publications. Learning how we push the boundaries of innovation helps me push the boundaries of my ideas. I also love airsoft.
Sami: Play iPad games with my 1.5 years old daughter, or sleep.
How do you relax or unwind?
Ric: I listen to Skrillex or dubstep.
Sami: No rest for the wicked.
If you weren't working on the internet what would you be doing?
Ric: Becoming an F1 race driver.
Sami: I would build another internet – Skynet.
What's your favourite part of your job? What's the hardest part of your job? What do you do when you get stuck?
Ric: Pitching work is my favourite part. I love storytelling. The hardest part is writing. It's always hard to look at a blank piece of paper and fill it with words. You just have to start tying. Even if it's crap, you tweak after. Multiple times.
What's the longest you've ever stayed up working on a project?
Sami : 3.5 days. Sleeping on the chair.
If there are any pivotal experiences/decisions you could point to that helped shape your career, what would they be?
Sami: Definitely the beginning of my career. I started to work in digital companies, after freelancing for several years. I was working like a maniac for 6 years. I did every brief that I could, and even more. Another point is when I started to work with Nissan.
Ric: Coming to Hong Kong. I spent the first 6 months freelancing whatever and wherever I could, just to get my name out there and build a portfolio. But the real breakthrough came during CNY. I knew companies gave out Red Packets with money inside, so I hand delivered 50 to the top agencies in Hong Kong. I replaced the money inside with my CV. I wrote a crappy line about “wealth of knowledge” on the outer envelope that I can’t remember now, but it worked. I got 5 interviews, 3 offers, and eventually a job at Ogilvy that led me to where I am today.
How many projects does your company juggle at any one time?
Sami: A lot.
In terms of software, is there anything new you have been playing with lately or that has impressed you?
Ric: Botanicus Interacticus.
What area of web design lacks the most?
Sami: I still think that the storytelling part is hard for web based designs. They’re definitely getting better, but rarely you see 365 ideas, which actually engage people throughout their entire lifespan.
Are there any websites that have shone through as being pioneering in the last 5 years or so?
Sami: I just love everything what Nike is doing.
Ric: There was a site created for the TV show “TinMan”. I loved the infinite scrolling effect that helped tell the story.
When dealing with major clients, how difficult is it to meet the needs of such wide target audiences?
Ric: For this client, luckily the audience wasn't so wide. We targeted the work towards automotive fans. Their desire to be the first to see new products actually drove (pun intended) our creative thinking, and the eventual "social-powered" concept.
That said, from my experience, it can be hard when dealing with a wide audience as the concept usually gets watered down. It's a lot harder to create an experiential site for the masses, compared to one for a target audience. I would say it helps if the concept is easy to digest and less specific. But that's a general rule for any idea. Keep it simple, keep it sweet.
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
Sami: It was amazing piece of art. Full of GIF animations. I reckon that it was somewhere around 1996.
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?
Herbert: Yes, I ran a really small and simple business selling coffee online. To me it wasn't about the money, it was more about the wealth of knowledge I gained from the personal sales.
Ric: I'm a little sad. I watch a lot of unboxing videos to learn about new products. It gives me a great impression of a consumer's first reaction to something.
Sami: I've been part of the start-up culture for a while, and I try to meet and network with likeminded people.
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?
Ric: For me the idea leads the thinking. I never put platform restrictions on myself. Even if the idea starts as an event, there's always a way for it to live online or in Print. Creative first, construction second.
Looking 10 years in to the future, how far can websites go?
Sami: I reckon that this “No interface” thinking is going to be the future. Just think about google glass and similar devices. After this we’re going to have contact lenses and nano technology. We don’t need these “old school” interfaces anymore.
Of all the websites you/your company have produced, which one are you most proud of?
Sami: There’s a story behind every work what we do – cons and pros. We always try to do the extra mile, because you’re only as good as your latest work.
Ric: Defeat Emperor Ming. But it wasn't that hard. You do mean the saviour of the universe, right?
Herbert: In 2006, I helped create an online educational platform for interactive teaching across the globe. The hardest part here was to make flash modular in order to support a wide range set of functions, like; an interactive whiteboard, the video conferencing system, digital workbooks, and the joint calendar.
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?
Sami: Definitely. If you have that burning passion to do amazing stuff – you’ll learn.
Ric: I teach part-time at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Hong Kong and the students there come from all walks of life. It's more about raw talent and ambition then it is educational experience. They even offer beginners’ classes to all new students.
If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring FWA award submitter, what advice would you give them?
Ric: No matter how stupid you think the idea is, how short the timeline feels, or how small the budget, you need to be committed. This entire unveil project was pitched and pretty much shut down on the day, due to constraints. But good planning and commitment from the client and the TBWA team helped make it a reality. Like all good things, they don't come to those who wait. They come to those who take. As in, take the leap.
Sami: Take the leap of faith and put all your heart into your work. With passion for the craft, you can do amazing stuff. Trust me.
How difficult do you find employing the right people in a world where everyone calls themselves a web designer?
Herbert: The hardest thing is to find people with the right mindset, to be able to understand what message we are trying to deliver in our work. It's not about simply designing, it's about realising the human truth and delivering on that.
What would be your ultimate vehicle to travel in?
Ric: I was lucky enough to drive a converted ex-military ‘Ford Sugga’ for Red Bull, while at Uni. It had a DJ booth that popped out of the back. I'd take that back in a heartbeat.
Herbert: Totoro Cat Bus.
How have you learned so many Flash/design skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?
Herbert: YouTube. You can teach yourself anything online these days. It's all about sitting down and finding the time. But we have to learn how to learn online. Technology is constantly evolving and it won't be possible for regular educational sectors to keep up with instant and free platforms like StackOverflow.com in the future.
How do you keep your finger on the pulse of the latest web trends?
Herbert: I use social media. I have a decent network of industry friends and they are always sharing the latest and greatest content or trends.
Ric: I use YouTube. No joke. I subscribe to a lot of channels and use it like a TV network. The Verge is especially helpful at keeping my up to date with the latest tech news.
Sami: Social media, blogs and feeds. My Flipboard is actually armed with really useful and cool feeds.
What country excites you the most in terms of innovation?
Herbert: Innovation in terms of concept, Japan. Innovation in terms of monetization, USA or China.
Ric: Kickstarter. It's not a country, but it's where everyday innovators get the chance to shine. Without platforms like this, we wouldn't have the level of innovation that we do. No one government or country is to thank for this.
Sami: Amsterdam and Finland.
There must be a project that you have always dreamed of doing, what is it?
Sami : Victoria Secret Fashion Show behind-the-scenes. We all agree with this one.
What is the most expensive thing you have bought in the last week?
Herbert: $300 USD worth of leather dyes that don't work.
Ric: This week I adopted a 6 year old Beagle that I was fostering. Bailey is costing a bomb, but paying it all back in affection.
Sami: Diesel Jeans and new pocket square.
What type of overcoat do you wear when Flashing, basically are you a labels man?
Ric: It’s not really Flashing unless you’re nude?
Herbert: My skin.
Sami: I am.
It has been a privilege, thanks very much
Sami: Thank you!