Judging an international design competition is no easy task. It takes a special kind of person that is willing to give their time and experience for the betterment of the industry.
It's time to shine a spotlight on these special individuals and dig a little deeper to see what makes them tick. Therefore, on behalf of the CSSDA founders and crew, please enjoy the following interview with one of our esteemed judging panel members.
Ken is Founder and Chief Creative Officer at Lounge Lizard Worldwide Inc.
1. When and what was your first ever computer? Can you remember the spec?
1998 Apple iMac 15" Desktop, Hard Drive Capacity: 4 GB, Processor Type: PowerPC G3 233 MHz, Memory: 32 MB
2. When and what was the first website you were involved in designing/developing? Which elements of the project did you do? Can you remember the 'cutting edge' tech used at the time? How did the site turn out and what did this experience teach you?
The first site was Lounge Lizard's first website and it was built 100% in Flash and was a crazy multimedia experience that was a cross between starters and a MTV music video. At the time it was cutting edge but now I look at it and say WTF! It was however a break-through Website and the business exploded and we got really good press. The experience taught me to always push the envelop and be different. In the end being different gets the attention and gives you a competitive advantage... especially in a competitive market.
3. Which project has been most rewarding for you over the course of your career and why?
That has to be the Lounge Lizard experiential website launched in 2008. It wasn't even in the category of a website. The entire website was a bar top and the navigation was bar coasters that took you down into the bar to interactive elements like an in-bar TV display that you turn on by inserting a dollar bill, an interactive portfolio, scrap book, and candles that could be blown out and re-lit. It was by far the most rewarding because we made millions of dollars in new business off the site and the site won a multitude of awards and was featured on thousands of websites around the world.
4. What career advice would you give to yourself if you could send a 'temporal text' 5 - 10 years into the past?
I told you you would have a few offices in Europe... but you didn't think that was possible.
5. Better still, if you had your own hot tub time machine, what time period would you travel to and why?
I would travel to the day the Internet was created and buy up all the domains that later sold for millions during the .com boom.
1. What are your favourite aspects about working in design?
I love seeing the very beginning stages of the design which is the idea that's crudely sketched on a white board and comparing that to the final product. Love seeing the interpretation of the idea.
2. What are your favourite design tools, sites, fonts and resources right now?
I really like CSSDA and other top award sites. The publishers of these sites have real integrity and a good eye for great design.
3. What are your favorite devices right now from mobile to desktop?
Desktop? What's that? I love my MacBook Air and iPhone 6, also like my iWatch and Apple TV.
4. Which 3 cities would be your favorite to open an office in and why?
- London: Always been a big fan of design coming out of there.
- Munich: German design is just so perfect and cutting edge.
- Amsterdam: Do I need to say why?... LOL :)
5. What is your favorite activity outside of work?
I love to surf cast off the beaches and inlets of Long Island.
1. How do you stay motivated?
I never settle. I am never satisfied with my success... and always think I can do better. This is what drives me on a daily basis and keep me motivated and in hyper-focus mode. My competition also keeps me motivated... I'm a fierce competitor and will always be in the ring - win, lose or draw.
2. Do you have a good life/work balance? Could it be improved? If so how?
Well, if you ask my wife she would say no and tell you that Ken never turns off from Lounge Lizard... and I mean never. Yeah, work/life could be improved. I could fish more, ride my motorcycle more. But I just don't make the time for myself. Truth is I love to work and thrive off it. Even when I do go fishing, I constantly check my email or get on the phone with a client, or call my creative director with a great idea. If someone reading this has an idea for me to improve my work life balance email me... maybe I'll listen. LOL.
3. Do you have any career advice for young designers and developers?
Study every aspect of designs that win awards. Train your brain to recognize what GREAT design is. Try to recreate award winning design. And please be diversified. A great designer can produce great work for any industry and in any style. Being a great designer is like being an actor - you have to get into all different types of roles to produce work that resinates with the right consumer. When creating a portfolio, ask yourself would this design be featured on an award site? If the answer is no and the that design can't hang side by side next to the best, then burn it and do it over. To be good is not enough when you dream of being great!
4. How do you keep up with the latest trends & tech?
I like to read industry leading websites like Techcrunch and Mashable.
5. If money was abolished and nobody needed to work anymore, what would you do with your life?
The same thing I'm doing now.
Versus: In your opinion...
1. Are great designers born Vs. made by experience?
You're either born creative or you're not. Can't tell you guys how any designers I hired from a painting portfolio that had NO experience in web design or mobile app design. True talent can learn a tool like Photoshop or Illustrator and can learn great UX/UI skills by studying the best in industry designs.
2. Is the best long term goal to be a founder Vs. freelance Vs. fulltime job?
That depends on an individual's goals and life/work balance needs. Go with what you really want and what will make you happy.
3. iPhone 6s vs Samsung S6 vs other?
iPhone all the way
4. Printed book vs eBook?
5. Star Trek vs Star Wars?