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issue #20

November 2012

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Brad Frost

Mobile Web Strategist And Front-end Designer.

The Work Questionnaire.

What made you go the way you chose to go?

My dad is an accountant and my mom is an art teacher, so I think I inherited a balanced blend of right/left brain from both of them. I always skewed toward the artsy side of things, but I specifically remember my mom trying to steer me away from being the starving artist type early on. I recall her encouraging me to pursue designing medical equipment (why, I don't know) because it was still creative (kinda sorta), but still had money in it (I guess). Lucky for her and me, the Web came along and became a perfect outlet to flex both sides of my brain.

What's the greatest difficulty you had to overcome to do what you're doing now?

I've been extremely fortunate. I have a great wife, great family, great friends, a great dog and many passions. I have no crazy stories of subsisting solely on Ramen or sleeping in a car for years. I've actually never been to the hospital. I recognize how fortunate I've been and constantly remind myself not to squander any of it. My greatest challenge is to motivate myself to constantly do better, move forward and keep learning new things.

What's the greatest difficulty you face on a daily basis to keep on doing what you're doing?

An increasing sense of ADD and information overload. I find it really challenging to focus on one thing when I'm getting pulled in 100 different directions. Case in point, I'm doing this interview right now when I have a book chapter to edit, a presentation to make, a site to launch, e-mails to answer, travel to book, and that's not even taking my day job into account. I find myself constantly switching between tasks, browser tabs and devices, and I get worried that it's just going to get worse and worse until I simply can't function anymore.

When did you find yourself thinking, "Well, this is it. I'm really doing what I want now"?

I've had a few of those "this is it" moments. The first moment was when I got the basic mechanics of web design down, got a few sites under my belt and realized that I can create whatever I want. Knowing that you can create something that wasn't there before is an amazing feeling. The second moment was when I started talking and writing about the stuff that I love. If there's one thing that's more fulfilling than creating things, it's helping other people create even better things.

How did you set your activity up? What was the process that led you to do what you're doing?

The process was and is very simple: learn, create, repeat. There's no magic to it, just a lot of time and effort spent creating things, staying up late and making mistakes.

How do you imagine the future?

We're just getting started with all of this. The Web is still young, mobile is still young, there's tons of exciting stuff right around the corner and there's a whole bunch of stuff yet to be imagined. I'm so excited to see how this orchestra of technology and information will come together to advance humanity. I know it's not all going to be rainbows and butterflies, but I feel that the future has a lot great things in store. We'll see collaboration on the grandest scale possible, communicate like never before, and see almost every aspect of our lives transformed and enriched as a result. Every data source, every gadget, every new technology is a puzzle piece, and we're only just now starting to put the pieces together. What our future will look like once the puzzle starts coming together is impossible to foresee, but I'm ridiculously excited to be just a tiny part of it.

What would you consider to be the main quality in order to survive in your field?

Benjamin Franklin said "When you're finished changing, you're finished." A constant thirst for knowledge and a willingness to adapt are two essential qualities of anyone working in web design (or any field really). It's tough to spend so much time learning something only to challenge or abandon that something just a few months later. It's natural to get set in your ways and to get complacent, but in this fast-moving landscape it's 100% necessary to constantly evolve.

And what is the indispensable flaw that someone should have in order to get into your business?

An ability to kick your own ass is certainly an indispensable flaw in this field (or any field for that matter). Being too hard on yourself can certainly hold you back, but that constant sense of inadequacy can also drive you to excel in your craft.

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Inaki Echeverria

Architect.

The Work Questionnaire.

What made you go the way you chose to go?

Luck... Love... How do you know for sure?

What's the greatest difficulty you had to overcome to do what you're doing now?

My temper.

What's the greatest difficulty you face on a daily basis to keep on doing what you're doing?

Petty envy, petty politics, petty people: mediocrity...

When did you find yourself thinking, "Well, this is it. I'm really doing what I want now"?

A couple of times. During graduate school in NYC I was ecstatic. Very recently I found myself in that mindset again. In my office, I am surrounded by smart, hardworking and lovely people. It's a privilege to lead such a team.

How did you set your activity up? What was the process that led you to do what you're doing?

A taste for adventure? And/or pain? It is easy to connect the dots when you're looking back. Not so much when you're looking ahead. I've always felt like I had to take the opportunities life had granted me. I was raised believing opportunity was as thin as a hair. You have to be ready, and jump and try, even if you fail.

How do you imagine the future?

The same... and new. Both at the same time. Like with sex, everything is always the same, and yet everything is always new.

What would you consider to be the main quality in order to survive in your field?

Resilience.

And what is the indispensable flaw that someone should have in order to get into your business?

The belief that things can be improved, that we can make life beautiful for people without destroying anything while trying.

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Mike Kus

Designer.

The Work Questionnaire.

What made you go the way you chose to go?

Back in 2007/8 I made a decision to move into designing for digital platforms after many years of working mainly in print. I did this because I was starting to feel 'left behind' and it was obvious that this space was exploding, resulting in a lot of interesting work opportunities.

What's the greatest difficulty you had to overcome to do what you're doing now?

The change I made in 2007 meant I had to learn front-end web development. I had zero knowledge of front-end development and it was a big change to my base skill set. So, yeah that felt quite frustrating at times but it was well worth it.

What's the greatest difficulty you face on a daily basis to keep on doing what you're doing?

Creative block. The challenge of constantly having to think up creative ideas for different design projects is the hardest thing about my job.

When did you find yourself thinking, "Well, this is it. I'm really doing what I want now"?

In 2009. I was a year or so into my Senior designer position at Carsonified and I realized I was doing the design work I had always wanted to do.

How did you set your activity up? What was the process that led you to do what you're doing?

I got involved in various work activities/ ventures. They all just seemed to happen organically. Very little planning but rapid evolution.

How do you imagine the future?

For my personal future, I have no idea. Well, I do have a few ideas but no idea how they will turn out. The future in general: Again, I don't know... but I do know it will be beyond what we imagine.

What would you consider to be the main quality in order to survive in your field?

I think an individual needs to excel at something. Do something that few others do. I think as web designer, graphic designer or illustrator there are a number of ways you can do this. For example as a web designer you might excel in UI design or you might excel at more creative web design. The key is to compete on your own terms. Stay focussed on what you're good at. If you start to try and emulate somebody else's talents you'll soon lose your way.

And what is the indispensable flaw that someone should have in order to get into your business?

If I answered this I'd just be making stuff up.

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Jeff Guilbault

Co-Owner, HipHipHip.

The Lifestyle Questionnaire.

What time do you wake up?

Between 7 am and 10 am. The exact answer is related to the belly of my 3 cats.

What is the first thing you do when you start work?

Tell to myself that I should wear a pair of trousers - I'm working at home.

How much time do you take for lunch, and what do you eat?

Between 30 minutes and 1 hour. Vegetarian food in front of news on TV.

How do you deal with stressful periods? How do you get through them?

By working harder.

What do you do when your body is screaming for a nap but time is lacking?

Drink coffee.

What is usually the peak of pleasure in your day, and what do you dislike the most about a typical day in your life?

The peak of pleasure is when my girlfriend comes back from work and we go outside for a drink, talk about stuff we did during the day etc. I dislike the fact that I spend more time with my computer than with people.

How do you fill your leisure time?

Shows, watching movies, cooking, hanging out with friends & family, listening to music...

What time do you usually go to bed?

Around 1 am. I usually try to watch a movie but fall asleep at around 1:05am.

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Whitney Hess

User Experience Strategist & Management Consultant.

The Cultural Questionnaire.

What's your favorite line from a movie?

"Jusqu'ici tout va bien. Jusqu'ici tout va bien. Jusqu'ici tout va bien," from La Haine. It's such a remarkable thing how shortsighted we can be. With the wind in our hair, floating and free, we fail to notice that we're hurling towards the ground. The irony of freedom has always intrigued me, that we live in a society that tells us, "it's the journey, not the destination," but sometimes that leads us to put blinders on and ignore where we're headed. I try so hard not to get stuck in the short cycles and to focus on the long cycles, but it's just not in our nature.

Which movie do you love but would be embarrassed to talk about in a serious, intellectual conversation?

My favorite movie is Stealing Home. On the surface it's a baseball movie, which is totally bizarre since I don't even particularly like baseball. But it's actually a story about an unattainable love, and an undying passion for life despite all the shit life throws at us. But I have a feeling I just might be the only person on earth who gets all of that from it :).

The tune of the moment?

I go through phases, often finding myself going back to the same music. Lately I've been listening to a lot of Simon and Garfunkel.

Name a museum where you'd be happy to be locked in for the night.

Musée d'Orsay, in Paris. No contest. I was once there in the early morning before they opened, on a class field trip. I got to roam the galleries, often finding myself in a room alone with all these priceless paintings that represent so much of our cultural history. It was truly the closest I've ever felt to being touched by the hand of God. An odd calm and gratitude came over me in a way I'd never experienced before and have seldom felt since. I was 16 at the time and it was a defining moment in my life. I'd give anything to be there in that moment again.

The three books you'd take with you for a very, very, very long 100% environmentally friendly trip overseas?

Time and Again by Jack Finney, the first book in the Harry Potter series, and I'll throw in War and Peace. The first two are favorites that I can just get lost in. War and Peace I've never read, but if it's such a long trip, I'd want a long book to keep me company!

You can give two "cultural items" (be it a book, a painting, a movie, a record or anything else), one to the person you like the most, one to the person that bores you the most. What would these two items be?

To the person who bores me the most (I can't even think of whom that would be!), I'd give the book Ishmael, which I just recently finished. It rocked my world and made me see our society in a whole different light, and in a way articulated a lot of the discomforts I've always felt about the way we operate. I'd hope it would give some insight to the boring person on how to live their life with greater purpose. For the person I love the most, I would give them my favorite album, Desire, by Bob Dylan. That album taught me how I want to live. It was lent to me by a camp counselor named Mitch the summer I turned 14 and falling asleep listening to it for the first time was a revelation. I don't know his last name and I don't know if our paths will ever cross again, but I wish he knew how much his small gesture has affected my life.

What painting would you steal if you could magically become invisible for a few hours?

Keith Haring's Untitled, 1982, but I call it Heart. He painted it the year I was born, which I found out moments after falling in love with it hanging on a gallery wall. I once met the people who own it. It's a 180-inch square vinyl tarp, which probably weighs, who knows, 300 pounds? Stealing it would be quite a task, but I think finding a wall big enough to hang it on would be the real challenge!

Which artist, alive or not, in any given field, would you love to party with for a wild, wild night?

Shakespeare. I bet that dude could get down.

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