I have always been sceptical about trends. I believe in timeless quality and the trends are by definition not that – they come and go. Keeping pace with technology is more important for me. I just do what I do and the good of the influences somehow seeps in.
I was born in Prague, Czech Republic. Ever since I was a small boy, I was interested in how things work… and in dinosaurs. Given these circumstances, I logically wanted to become an inventor and scientist since an early age. Sadly though, my parents soon discovered artistic talent within me and forced me to study drawing and graphic design instead. I had to use these skills immediately after high school – I suddenly had to live on my own, which meant finding a job. As I jumped into a commercial machine, I figured I could not take it seriously – I focused my skills in design, animation and sound to realize my childhood dreams of making games, inventing and having fun.
What do you do for inspiration?
I guess my most ancient inspiration comes from computer games, but these days I tend to get inspiration from places which are as far from my job description as possible. Generally, these are music, philosophy, art and science. But I have to say, nobody knows where real inspiration comes from and I realise that – it’s a random process, sources of which are hardly traceable. Sometimes the solution for a particular visual problem I’m facing comes from imagining a movement or sound – as we know, creativity is about connecting concepts which seem to be distant.
Please list 3 of your favourite sites.
Recent Old Spice microsites
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
Not much of these yet, to be honest (if you don’t count several local awards). But I guess the five 5 FWA SOTD awards could be perceived as an achievement – given that I’m the only guy in the Czech Republic who can claim anything near this number. But that’s also thanks to my colleagues at SYMBIO, who worked with me and allowed me to play with projects that weren’t exactly cheap.
Having said that, I’ve always been sceptical about awards. It’s sad that most people can’t tell if something is good or not without somebody else telling them.
How many hours do you work each week?
It depends on what type of project I’m working on, but it occasionally goes over 80.
How do you relax or unwind?
Improvising on guitar, mastering recordings, watching documentaries while high, mountain hiking, or a good party always helps.
If you weren't working on the internet what would you be doing?
I’d be a scientist, musician or an artist... or a prostitute (that’s the advertising part of me).
What's your favourite part of your job? What's the hardest part of your job? What do you do when you get stuck?
My favourite part is the excitement at the beginning of a promising project, when my brain buzzes with the possibilities and dreams and then finally – at night in a shower – it all comes to me and I have nothing to write on.
The hardest is definitely coming up with original and creative executions for a project which doesn’t inspire or excite me in any way.
The problem of getting stuck, or solving any other consequential problem is the place where your professional life and your personal believes cross. When I'm stuck, I usually force myself not to care. I'm practising the old trick of dis identifying with the problem and looking at it "from above". It's sometimes hard, but when one really manages that, the answers start coming from the most obvious places, which aren't accessible when buried in the worrisome, circular state of mind. Not worrying about your future helps here a lot - the worries about the consequences of your decisions have to go (in the scheme of all things, they are not important at all). Only then you are free to "run with it"...to be creative.
Of course there is a place for inspecting your idea with the responsible, rational mind, but it is not while coming up with it - it is afterwards.
In terms of software, is there anything new you have been playing with lately or that has impressed you?
I’m really excited about WebGL and the like. If in the future this kind of 3D technology is supported widely by all the browsers and the developing process for it is simplified, than the possibilities for designers will expand immensely.
Who is your target audience?
I always try and make designs for everybody – to be as understandable as possible. My father should be able use them the same way as my 4-year-old sister. I’m not a fan of “design for designers” – design should be accessible to everybody.
When dealing with major clients, how difficult is it to meet the needs of such wide target audiences?
The trouble is not usually meeting the needs of an audience – we go for the mainstream from the beginning and you can newer predict the future – its always a gamble. The trouble is persuading the client to trust that we know how to reach the audience better than he does in a first place. When the client forces you to implement solutions which, for example, presume that the user is really interested in the brand, than the engagement with the audience goes to hell.
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
My first site was an animations-based Flash portfolio which I did as a final project in high school. It was perhaps even weirder than my current portfolio, but It got me a job at a digital agency anyway. It's dead for several years.
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?
It already does. I think that it suffers mainly from being “not cool anymore”. I just hope that more designer-friendly developer tools – perhaps close to Flash – will be developed for HTML. Otherwise, the HTML5 tools are definitely a step back in terms of how easily an artist can implement his vision.
What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?
Well, for example, in the Czech Republic most of the professionals I know have studied nothing like design/graphic school which clearly points to faults in education system which even in more developed countries fails to recognise and develop talents of the students. So you don’t need a school to be talented designer…even thought it definitely helps.
How do you keep up with the latest capabilities of Flash or do you rely on other members of you team to do this?
I have always been in tune with what’s visually possible in games, and Flash and WebGL are basically running several years behind in terms of technology. So that’s quite easy. For the deeper technical and systematic stuff, I usually talk with programmers who desperately try to convert these into a comprehensible form for me.
How have you learned so many Flash/design skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?
I learned to use Flash and other graphical, sound and video editing tools in the process – figuring things out on my own, improvising and asking friends while having a deadline over my head pushing me forward. The only way to really learn something is to be excited about it and to have a goal to strive for. The motivation is therefore very important – mine was to be able to create as much of the site by myself because nobody can understand my vision as clearly as I do. I just wanted to have things my way. So if you are a newbie, this should be enough for you to start learning – put yourself in circumstances which force you to learn, and realise that skills allow you to be your own boss.
How do you keep your finger on the pulse of the latest web trends?
I don’t really. I have always been sceptical about trends. I believe in timeless quality and the trends are by definition not that – they come and go. Keeping pace with technology is more important for me. I just do what I do and the good of the influences somehow seeps in.
What country excites you the most in terms of innovation?
North Korea and its nuclear programme.
- Bad jokes aside...it has to be US. Specifically NASA and Google.
There must be a project that you have always dreamed of doing, what is it?
A website which seems to be a standard portal, but then it unexpectedly turns into a massive 3D spectacle.
What does the future hold for your company, or you as a person?
I probably won’t be able to resist any longer the world of 3D software. I’ve had it on my agenda for ages.
The biggest long-term challenge I will be facing soon is definitely living in New York.
What is the most expensive thing you have bought in the last week?
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
Well I have two – they are about essential part of my job - coming up with new ideas.
In order to solve any problem, you have to make it a visual thing which can be imaged – which you can see as a movie in your head. Just dream about it. Then totally let it go. Then you suddenly realise the answer. The biggest mistake is to worry about it.
As we know today, your brain is plastic - it is an instrument which changes according to how its played. Play it as well as your wisdom tells you and never abandon your mental evolution. Nothing about you is set in stone.
It has been a privilege, thanks very much
It has been a bigger one for me. Thanks.