This interview was written in a collaborative document, which is our favorite way to get work done. It’s also our favorite way to not get work done.
Please give us a brief bio of yourselves.
Johan Gerdin - Creative at Droga5
Brian Moore - Freelance creative
Justin Durazzo - Executive Producer at Droga5
Devin Croda - http://bit.ly/RpJV72
What do you do for inspiration?
JG - Long walks, long talks.
JD - I like to bike and check out various new food spots around the city.
B - While a lot of linksharing sites on the Web could be considered time wasters, I’d say that pulling in a ton of interestings out there helps jump start the brainstorm process.
D - I like to get a tall can of Naragansett and then complain to a friend about something I want fixed. Or talk about something that’s awesome. And then take one goofy idea that comes from that, and just put way too much time into it.
Please list 3 of your favourite sites.
JG - Wikipedia
JD - Gizmodo
B - Hacker News
D - motionographer.com
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
JG - Moving to America.
JD - I set up a Gowanus pop-up restaurant with Johan, my brother and some other friends that served more than 300 people weekly for 15 weeks.
D - Being able to design for a living has proved much more successful than trying to sell my body...so...my mom is proud.
B - Making something that real people outside of advertising use for a good cause is most definitely up there.
If you weren't working on the internet what would you be doing?
JG - Am I working on the Internet?
JD - Working on the railroad.
D - Wasting time on the internet.
B - Getting the ‘net sweats.
What's your favourite part of your job? What's the hardest part of your job? What do you do when you get stuck?
JG - At Droga5 you’re privileged to be around talented people such as Brian, Justin and Devin. That’s the favorite part of my job. If we get stuck, we solve the problems together.
JD - My favorite part is the creative process… having the ability and authority to help develop an idea, refine it and then hand pick a team to make it happen. The worst part: scheduling.
B - I love that feeling you get when you’ve suddenly cracked an idea and you know exactly what next steps to take. The hardest part is definitely getting stuck—the best way out of that is clearing your head, which could mean a walk around the city, preferably with a coffee in hand.
D - I love being presented with a problem and getting the opportunity to solve it. If that happens on the first or second try, that’s my favorite part. If it still hasn’t happened on the seventh try, that’s the hardest part. At that point, I make every single aesthetically conscious person I know look at the problem for fresh perspective.
If there are any pivotal experiences/decisions you could point to that helped shape your career, what would they be?
JG - Taking time off after graduating high school helped set me on the path to where I currently am.
JD - Leaving advertising and exploring other industries rounded me out, grew me as a person and then brought me back into the business with more experience to draw from.
B - Side projects, side projects, side projects. They help you form ideas that you know are feasible because you’ve done them yourself. Plus they prove that you’re capable of thinking of, executing, and completing ideas in their entirety.
D - I think it’s committing fully to an idea or a goal and just going for it. If it takes working til 5 a.m., do it. If it takes driving out to an empty field, go there. The projects I dislike are usually the ones I didn’t put enough effort into.
What software could you not live without?
JG - Apps.
JD - Google Docs, Slack, Dropbox, Skitch, Droplr.
B - Photoshop, Sublime Text, Droplr.
D - Photoshop. Spotify.
In terms of software, is there anything new you have been playing with lately or that has impressed you?
JD - There’s this new ‘anti-social’ app called Cloak that notifies you when people you’d like to avoid are nearby!
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
JG - A project I did in school called Don’t tell Ashton. No longer live.
JD - It was a personal portfolio site I made in Dreamweaver in 2004.
B - it was a geocities page I made back in grade school. It isn’t online any longer (thank god). Just imagine a giant photo of my cat amongst millions of “under construction” and “email me” gifs.
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?
JG - I personally believe having at least one side project, unrelated to your everyday workplace, helps you perform better.
JD - Also going to say side projects. People seem to be more inspired by what I do outside of work than my client-paid projects.
B - Guess what i’m going to say? Side projects.
D - Ride my bike. Wear shorts. Have a BBQ. Anything to get away from work for a few hours makes your work stronger when you come back. It’s important to recharge.
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?
JG - I’m tooting my own horn here but have to promote our UNICEF Tap Project app–it helped people connect with a cause that is hard to put in perspective.
JD - 2014 UNICEF Tap Project. I still can’t believe the incredible positive response we received. Also incredibly grateful for our core development team, Modern Assembly.
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?
JD - A good idea is a good idea. It’s OK to be media agnostic.
B - I never start with “I have to make a website,” or “I have to make an app.” The idea suggests the medium.
JG - Agree with Brian.
D - I don’t think there’s anything hindering about digital anymore. Digital solutions are in every aspect of my life. Even my apartment’s lightbulbs are WiFi connected now.
Of all the websites you/your company have produced, which one are you most proud of?
JG - Again, this year’s Tap Project.
JD - Tap Project.
B - Tap Project.
D - On May 4th, I won my first FWA for a website for 5gum. It was the coolest thing I’d ever done and first award I’d received.
What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?
JG - For sure. Even though I think school is the perfect place to experiment freely, without boundaries, restrictions and pressures from clients.
B - Absolutely. The hardest part is getting in the door. Some people mistake school as where you learn 100% of what you need to know and your job is applying it. In reality, there is so much you can’t learn in school that you only learn by being thrown into the fray.
D - I don’t think a school environment is the best place for perfecting your craft, but it is a great environment for critique and honing your taste.
JD - I do. I learned some core design principles, Photoshop and Illustrator without a formal education. But I think that theory and fundamental training is invaluable.
If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring FWA award submitter, what advice would you give them?
JG - Work hard with people you like.
B - Intern and make an impact.
JD - Give it a shot. It’s a great industry and career path.
D - Someone is always going to make something better than what you just made. and that’s a good thing.
How do you keep your finger on the pulse of the latest web trends?
JD: I hang out with Brian Moore.
JG - I try to keep my eyes on real life and not just the screen. Studying how other people use tech helps you better understand the potential of what you can do with it. Then I also hang with Brian Moore.
B - I’m Brian Moore.
D: My least favorite web trend right now is all editorials writing their headlines like the last sentence of a goosebumps novel. And if you think that’s odd, YOUR MIND WILL EXPLODE WHEN I REVEAL HOW I KEEP UP WITH WEB TRENDS IN THE NEXT QUESTION.
What are you excited about learning next and is there a long-term challenge you are considering tackling?
B - Become a better developer.
JD - I should really learn to code.
JG - Same.
D - I’m always trying to better my animation skills. I think Cinema is an amazing tool, and people are using it to create a huge range of styles.