If i'm slammed I'll put in the "crazy man" 80 or 90 hour week. But on average I would say I work around 50 or 60 hours a week.
Please give us a brief bio of yourself.
My name is Tyler Kealey and i'm an Art Director and Designer living in the mountains of British Columbia, Canada. I've been practicing design professionally for nearly 10 years, but i've been interested in, and pursuing graphic arts from a younger age. I've been having a great time working remotely as an Art Director with the good people of Welikesmall in Salt Lake City. Before that I had a great 5 years working as an Art Director with The Vacuum. Great is great. I've also worked in house and remotely for a number of other US and Canadian agencies. I literally live in the forrest, overlooking a river with bears and friggin' elk in my backyard near the small town of Nelson BC.
What do you do for inspiration?
My bio probably gave it away but I obviously find a great deal of inspiration in, and from, nature. I'm certainly at my most creative when i'm able to play in the mountains. In my down time i spend a lot of time backcountry skiing, mountain biking, hiking and camping. When I'm working long hours on a project, having the ability to spend time in the quiet of the outdoors, and completely shift the focus of my attention, is really important to me.
Please list 3 of your favourite sites.
That's a tough call. But since we're talking design here i guess i'll list my 3 most visited design sites.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
I really believe that it has been the ability to work on global campaigns for large brands while maintaining qualities of life that are important to me. I've got a lot of small town values to go along with my larger career ambitions and being able to balance both has been my biggest achievement.
How many hours do you work each week?
Well that really changes with amount of projects I happen to be working on at any given time. If i'm slammed I'll put in the "crazy man" 80 or 90 hour week. But on average I would say I work around 50 or 60 hours a week.
How do you relax or unwind?
I don't spend every minute away from work exclusively in nature. I'm an avid reader, lover of films (with a pretty mean collection). I'm very into music and spend, what is probably, way too much time grooming my Rdio account. I've got a pretty sweet vegetable garden that my wife and I tend to in the summer time. Cooking, photography, artsy projects, You know.. that kinda stuff.
What's your favourite part of your job? What's the hardest part of your job? What do you do when you get stuck?
Favorite: Every time I invest my time into a project i'm beginning a new learning process… which is amazing. Every new client brings the challenge of learning about, and researching a completely new topic. I also like to use projects to further my own knowledge and development as a designer. I like to set out to accomplish goals that will require me to employ new design or animation techniques. I'm aware that there are not a lot of jobs that give you the opportunity to do something new every day, which makes me very grateful to be able to do what i do.
Hardest: The hardest thing to do in this field is to find the line between being passionate about what your'e delivering, and being willing and open to collaboration with colleagues and clients. Having the ability to accept that your initial direction might not necessarily be the right one will often lead you to much better results.
Stuck?: Starting to sound like a broken record here...but I like to do stuff outside. Actually, that's not completely true. One thing I'll do to change things up is turn off the music while i'm working and put on a favorite movie on a second screen. I'll pick a movie I know so well that I don't even really have to watch the screen. Just listening to dialogue can trigger little tangents of ideas which will often help me get to a new place in my work.
What's the longest you've ever stayed up working on a project?
Some of those nights are starting to fade away into the ether a little bit so it's tough to remember exactly. I can remember doing some back to back all nighters, which did not feel good in any way. At a certain point you just have to sleep. Things start taking three times as long as they should to complete, and you start to lose the ability to actually communicate with people.
If there are any pivotal experiences/decisions you could point to that helped shape your career, what would they be?
OK, I guess i'll get all emo on this one. I'd have to say getting married to, and choosing to spend my life with my lovely wife has shaped my career more than i've ever really considered. In modern society it's awfully hard for two people to find each other and then stay with each other. It's easier than ever to move your life 4000km's away in a heartbeat and I really think that makes it difficult for people to commit to each other. Thankfully, my wife and I have both been willing to make those sacrifices to be together. In that sense most career choices I make are shaped by that commitment.
How many projects does your company juggle at any one time?
Well, I won't speak to the amount of projects that Welikesmall juggles at one time. However, as an individual I would say that 3 large(ish) projects would be more than enough, although it's a pretty arbitrary answer to an arbitrary question. The amount of projects I would consider taking on at any given time would really depend on the scope of those projects. It's quite possible that I would be working on more than 3 projects at the same time, with some larger than others. That being said, I think 3 projects is an optimal number if your'e leading design on all 3 projects. As a designer it's difficult not to repeat yourself. If I'm working on 3 completely different design directions it's inevitable that something i'm doing in one project tries to work its way into another one. I think if you take on too many creative projects at the same time you're going to have a hard time coming up with unique concepts for each one.
What area of web design lacks the most?
I think web typography has made some incredible advances over the last few years, especially with the decline of flash based websites. I still think that the way we display type on internet is influenced by dated ideas we have about usability. As we push the boundaries of CSS and embedded fonts we're going to find unique ways of displaying database driven content, with the precision of a print designer.
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
Wow… my very first portfolio site is probably 15 years old now and i'm afraid to even look for it on web archive. It was a flash site, heavily inspired by the big designers of the time. These were the days of the very first Vir2L flash site and other 'ground breaking' flash animated sites like Eye4U and Turtleshell. My website, of course, included a close up photo of my eye... a window into the mind of he artist. I'm sure it was also covered up by far too many lighting effects and terrible colour dodging. I'm pretty sure it was called TJK Designs, "designs" really lending legitimacy to the whole operation. As terrible as that site was it sure ended up foreshadowing my love of both design and animation.
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
Having spent a great number of years creating content driven and experiential flash sites i'm sad to say that I don't think Flash is here to stay. At least, not as it has been used over the past 10 years. It seems more than ever brands are moving away from offering interactive entertainment in the form of the flash site. The web has become sophisticated enough to collaboratively write documents, house all of your music, and mange your calendars and tasks. Major brands have, correctly, identified that people are more willing to interact with a brand if they're offered a tool or application that extends the product's usefulness in your life. Designers and developers are looking for ways to create those types of web based applications, that will work across browsers and operating systems. Which is ironic since flash was designed to be that very platform. Segmentation in mobile devices has obviously kept Flash from being the ubiquitous platform it was intended to be. Flash is obviously making that very transition right now; shifting focus to app development over animated interactive experiences.
There is perhaps a shift in web use these days. We are seeing a decline in the purely experiential sites in flash with huge production efforts, to a relationship with clients based on tools and services, that many times have simples interfaces. How do you see that trend developing? Will Flash suffer?
I think this is driven by demand. That is to say, it is not designers and developers who are failing to create compelling flash experiences. People are increasingly using the internet for a series of web based tools that allow them to accomplish tasks. Web based entertainment is shifting from experimental Flash site, to a more seamless, "TV-like", experience. Viewers just seem to be less willing to participate in branded interactive experiences. Flash will, and obviously, already has suffered quite a bit. If it is truly demand that is driving this shift in web use, then we, as interactive designers and developers, need to continue to place the focus on creating compelling content in the medium that is appropriate for the audience.
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 would say that you can definitely get into this field without attending design school. I'm proof of that, having only done a 1 year post graduate interactive multimedia course. However, I would completely recommend for designers to pursue a diploma in design. As a designer you will often be called upon to use your personal knowledge to come up with a great idea or visual concept. Having depth of knowledge on a variety of subjects can only help a designer in their career. So the more time you can spend learning in school (or on your own) the better.
What country excites you the most in terms of innovation?
When it comes to design I would really have to say England. It has the luxury of being situated next to, and influenced by, all of the different European cultures. I'm just personally drawn to the aesthetic that you see coming out of studios like Build, Spin, Studio 8 etc.
What are you excited about learning next and is there a long term challenge you are considering tackling?
I'm still very excited and passionate about continuing to upgrade my knowledge of 3D animation and modeling. And of course i'm interested in anything else to do with animation, compositing and video production. I also want to continue to develop my skills as a cinematographer. Combining the technical aspects of optics, lighting, and the desire to capture poignant human moments is very interesting to me. I hope to continue to shoot self initiated film projects.
What is the most expensive thing you have bought in the last week?
Well I hate to play right into the Canadian stereotype but I did in fact buy a really nice pair of long underwear this past weekend. It's going to get awfully cold around here pretty quickly so I needed a serious set of long underwear to keep warm this winter. Money well spent if you ask me.
It has been a privilege, thanks very much
Feeling is mutual friend. Cheers!