I was born into advertising and raised by wolves in the Canadian wilderness. That experience shape shifted me into a digital storyteller and gave me the creative skills I use daily at TEAK.

question Please give us a brief bio of yourself.

Michael Chessey:   I moved from Ohio to the San Francisco Bay Area in the mid 90's and divided my time between design for the digital space and rock climbing in Yosemite. Before we used the term interactive, I was designing in Flash/DHTML. I continue to push the limits of interactive and push my personal limits in the California mountains.

Greg Rowan: I was born into advertising and raised by wolves in the Canadian wilderness. That experience shape shifted me into a digital storyteller and gave me the creative skills I use daily at TEAK. TEAK in San Francisco is home. It houses many talented storytellers, and lucky for me because I get to collaborate with them on great projects.

Alex Fernandez: Spanish national. Then I got a Macintosh.

question What do you do for inspiration?

Michael Chessey: I make myself eat pop culture until it gives me a tummy ache. I laugh at myself. I spend time in the mountains acting like a animal.

Greg Rowan: Travel, studying human behavior.

Alex Fernandez: Read, ride my bike, anything not having to do with the computer.

question Please list 3 of your favourite sites.

Greg Rowan: Motionographer.com for creative inspiration. 27bslash6.com for laughs. Surfline.com for the daily surf report.

Alex Fernandez: http://www.cycleexif.com,  http://ffffound.com/, http://techcrunch.com/

question What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?

Michael Chessey: I have convinced people that I know what I am talking about.

Greg Rowan: Keeping the creative juices flowing and evolving.

Alex Fernandez: My last achievement.

question How do you relax or unwind?

Greg Rowan: Surf

Alex Fernandez: I find a couch to lay down on. Any couch.

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

Michael Chessey: I would be an International Mountaineering Guide who moonlights as a Modern Dancer & Choreographer for the Mark Morris Dance Group.

Greg Rowan: Working on a surf boat in Indonesia.

Alex Fernandez: Finish carpentry, or welding.

question What's your favourite part of your job? What's the hardest part of your job? What do you do when you get stuck?

Michael Chessey: Favorite / The freedom and chaos of the concept development stage. Hardest / Being creative on demand. Stuck / Walk away and hit the heavy bag for an hour.

Greg Rowan: Fave / Creating. Hardest / Protecting the integrity of an idea. Stuck / Research, research, research.

Alex Fernandez: Favorite / Collaboration. Hardest / Collaboration. Stuck / Take a walk and smoke a cigarette.

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

Greg Rowan: Creating and Directing content at TEAK, I love doing both.

Alex Fernandez: Moving to San Francisco.

Michael Chessey: My mother pulled me out of school (all boys, Catholic) for a week while in the 4th grade, to audition for a pilot art school in downtown Cincinnati. I was one of the 7% accepted for the 5th grade school year, and I continued 8 years to graduation having studied Commercial Art, Modern Dance, Fine Art and Photography. This school (SCPA), it’s program and faculty, convinced me that I could do anything with my life, that I could think bigger than the people around me, as big as I wanted.

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

Greg Rowan: It all impresses me and the problem is it keeps driving my expectations higher.

Alex Fernandez: We used ruby on rails for the Google Chrome Demo Lab project. I'm sold. It's new to me.

question What effect on traffic do your new designs have?

Greg Rowan: It’s all about creating a natural flow.

Michael Chessey: All my work aims to connect and engage users with brands in a unique way. This usually involves exchanging content, giving and taking, an interaction that tells a story... that then gets shared through conversation or social platforms. If the content is one way (brand-consumer), what life can a design have? If the content is a story (brand-consumer-brand-friends, etc) that is personal, customizable and sharable, it’s life expands beyond the design, the traffic spreads out like the branches of a tree.

question Has winning FWA awards helped you in any way?

Greg Rowan: Free drinks.

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

Michael Chessey:  I am planning a Pop Up book about monsters, to scare children.

Greg Rowan: No. How about a screenplay?

Alex Fernandez: I have an idea for a short story almost daily, but have no time to write them down.

question 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?

Michael Chessey:  We worked on the Google Search Stories project, by creating a flash gadget to house all of the new Search stories coming in from the public.  It’s a amazing to see all of the different stories out there, and how really poignant and/or funny stuff can be made from simple searches.

Greg Rowan: A Facebook app called The Colony created for the Discovery Channel cleverly demonstrated what would happen if a Pandemic hit your region by showing all the communication between your friends on Facebook. I thought it had amazing stopping power and it was incredibly effective way of showing how vulnerable we all are. Great concept and execution.

Alex Fernandez: What Rowan said sounds amazing, send me the link!

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

Greg Rowan: A hybrid organism weaving human DNA with code.

Alex Fernandez: Websites will morph into mood-aware utilities.

Michael Chessey: The term website will no longer be used by people in the know. Applications that are mobile, customizable and platform independent will serve content on demand anywhere, anytime, from the cloud.

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

Greg Rowan: Building a full on digital experience for a new business pitch in less than a week. I didn't want one piece of paper used in the pitch.  It was brutal week but totally worth it because we won the business.

Alex Fernandez: I created a map for Pacific Gas & Electric that tracked the progress of smart meter installations for individual California counties and cities.

Michael Chessey: Tried to learn AS3. Abandoned the effort. Want that two weeks back.

question Do you think Flash is here to stay?

Greg Rowan: Yes and I'm sure it will keep evolving.

Alex Fernandez: For the time being, yes.

Michael Chessey: What’s going to take over? HTML 5?

question If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring FWA award submitter, what advice would you give them?

Greg Rowan: Break as many rules as you can before you become complacent.

Alex Fernandez: Make the interface as transparent to the experience as possible.

question What would be your ultimate vehicle to travel in?

Greg Rowan: Vintage 1966 Streamline trailer. Cush.

Alex Fernandez: 1965 jaguar e type.

Michael Chessey: A custom made Dario Pegoretti steel framed cyclocross bike.

question What is the most expensive thing you have bought in the last week?

Greg Rowan: Terabyte drive for 190 bucks and a new 6’4 thruster.

Alex Fernandez: My kids' valentines day presents.

question Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?

Michael Chessey: "Today is victory over yourself of yesterday; tomorrow is your victory over lesser men.” - Miyamoto Musashi

Greg Rowan: Eat right, exercise and never give up.

Alex Fernandez: If it hasn't been done before, hurry up and do it.

question It has been a privilege, thanks very much

- Many thanks to the FWA.  


From left to right:  Michael Chessey, Greg Rowan, Alex Fernandez.  San Francisco, 2011
From left to right: Michael Chessey, Greg Rowan, Alex Fernandez. San Francisco, 2011

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