.

I always try to surround myself with talented people, often called pixelfuckers, in order to get the absolute most out of everything I passionately work on or with.

question Please give us a brief bio of yourself.

I’m an interactive art director who is passionate about digital creativity, interactive experiences and UI/UX design. I have a strong mobile design and development background and was one of the first mobile-driven freelancers in Belgium. Since 2009 I run Little Miss Robot (www.littlemissrobot.com) together with Valentijn Destoop, Wim Vanhenden and Sven Luyten.

What do you do for inspiration?

I find inspiration in talking with friends and family about things they do or do not enjoy. Every day we push pixels and fine-tune concepts for users like them. I want to do my share to remove existing frustration or add a little extra flavour to their lives. On top of that I’m subscribed to inspiration@littlemissrobot.com, which guarantees a daily dose of inspiration coming directly from our team.  

What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?

In 2008 I won an Adobe Max Award with a Flash Lite application I created for Rock Werchter. It was the only mobile project that made it into the European Finals and being 21 years old, I was the youngest nominee. 

How do you relax or unwind?

Travelling with my girlfriend Nele, playing soccer and having drinks or dinner with friends and family. 

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

The hardest part is keeping balance between my personal life and ‘being caught up in work’. 

What's the longest you've ever stayed up working on a project?

During college I pulled several all-nighters, but I must honestly admit I never experienced horror stories like working 60 hours straight. The most stressful moment so far was developing my first iPhone application. For about 2 months I worked 70 to 80 hours a week and like any rookie I underestimated development time. I was completely stressed out, but the app got submitted on time and made it to the number 1 free iPhone app position. What a roller coaster that was! 

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

I always try to surround myself with talented people, often called pixelfuckers, in order to get the absolute most out of everything I passionately work on or with. 

What software could you not live without?

There is nothing I could not ‘live’ without. But having no access to typical things like email, my iPhone or Adobe’s Creative Suit would make my work impossible to do.

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

The last 2 platforms that really impressed me were Instagram and Pinterest. Instagram because it got stuck in my head immediately. I’m constantly thinking ‘I should post this, or that, or…”. Secondly, I am very impressed with the quality of Pinterest’s user generated content. 

What area of web design lacks the most?

Concept and UI/UX design that focus on an emotional and positive experience for the end user. Also, I hate to see features and functionality added just because technology enables it. 

Has winning FWA awards helped you in any way?

I had the pleasure of working with talented people on several FWA Award-winning projects and the feeling of seeing our work being showcased is just fantastic. From that emotional perspective, it helps me push beyond boundaries for sure. On top of that it offers a great network of creative talent, eager to work together. 

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

In 2009 I co-authored a technical book on Flash Mobile Development, published and distributed worldwide by Apress. It was a great experience although I slightly underestimated the amount of work. I have no further plans for now, but writing an inspirational book about digital creativity and entrepreneurship is something that I might kick-start someday.

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?

“Mens sana in corpore sano.” A sound mind in a healthy body is something I strongly believe in. I try to eat healthy and by playing soccer I try to stay in good shape.  

Of all the websites you/your company have produced, which one are you most proud of?

Suske en Wiske: De Stuivende Stad. This application was the first digital interactive comic we made and is still very successful. Almost 2 years after its release the application keeps receiving extremely positive feedback and 5 star rates in the Appstore. Besides that we won several national and international awards because of its innovative and creative character. Even Marvel Studios let us know they were inspired by our work, which was a big boost for us. 

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

Just like in most other industries, winning awards is the result of stunning teamwork. Try to surround yourself with like-minded creative people and be a team player! Inspire each other en push those pixels to something you can truly be proud of. In the end, that’s what really matters.   

How difficult do you find employing the right people in a world where everyone calls themselves a web designer?

The first thing we do is checking out the portfolio. If it does not contain work that inspires us we respectfully decline a first introduction. A good portfolio presents a skillset you immediately want to have in your team as well. Employing people should give your team a boost and if you don’t see that potential in someone you shouldn’t hire them. 

How do you keep your finger on the pulse of the latest web trends?

There are many resources that ‘inform’ you on the latest trends in web and interactive design, but I don’t really follow them closely. What I do is looking for project related inspiration on FWA for example, and I try to connect the dots myself. Approaching it that way helps me adding true value and a unique creative angle to a project.  

There must be a project that you have always dreamed of doing, what is it?

I would love to design an interactive installation where users can experience the extreme pressure world-class soccer players like Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo are dealing with during the most important moments in their career. How does it feel to be in a stadium where 100.000 people are looking at you, wanting you to score or miss that Champions League winning penalty kick. What happens the moment you score and become a legend in the eyes of millions of people?

What does the future hold for your company, or you as a person?

I hope to keep working with inspiring people, designing innovative concepts and experiences that reach out to as much people as possible. With an ongoing digital (r)evolution we will have more and more power and opportunity to add some fun to their lives. Let’s keep doing that!  Besides that I hope to see Little Miss Robot evolve into an internationally respected digital creative studio, working on innovative experiences for world’s leading brands. 

Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?

I would love to end with a quote from Steve Jobs that keeps inspiring me every single day. “Design is not only how it looks like and feels like, design is how it works.”


Links

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Thomas Joos
Thomas Joos

Suske en Wiske: De Stuivende Stad
Suske en Wiske: De Stuivende Stad

De Kiekeboes: Alle Eendjes
De Kiekeboes: Alle Eendjes

Samsung Dance Battle, Sensation 2012 Belgium

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