What hobbies do you have that contribute to your work in the industry?
I try to stay up-to-date on new advances in front-end development as much as possible. I listen to a lot of podcasts during my long commute, many of which relate to development and tech in general. I also follow quite a few of the major players and what they’re working on.
In the past I’ve done a lot of personal sites and side projects. That’s become harder lately due to the commute and having a 3-year-old daughter at home. But in 2013 I hope to start building a brand new web app that will implement a lot of what’s considered “cutting edge” right now.
My non-IQ time is mostly spent doing art projects. I do occasional commissions and am currently working as a sketch card artist for Cryptozoic Entertainment, who today announced the Superman set I worked on.
A poster commissioned by a friend, from sketch to completion:
What’s something you do in your free time that nobody would guess?
Hmm. That’s a hard one, as so much of what I do goes straight to Facebook, Twitter, or another social channel for everyone to see.
One thing I haven’t really explored much is writing. While I do my share of blogging, I feel like I have other things I want to get down in writing. I really want to tell some classic “ghost stories”, which have been percolating for years.
How has working at IQ helped you grow personally and professionally?
I’ve been a full-time web developer for almost 16 years now and an employee of other agencies for maybe half that time. In the years of working for those agencies, I’ve never had the feeling of family like I’ve found at IQ. It really does feel like a “team”, where everyone has your back. This adds massive benefit to everything we work on.
I’ve also been lucky enough to work on a wide variety of projects, which helps keep things fresh and exciting. Not only have I worked on exciting web projects, but also character design, storyboards for live action and animation, and iPad apps. The idea that you’re utilized for all your skills and not just your “job description” is what makes IQ special for me.
What advice would you give young developers/illustrators?
The best advice I can give is…go build something. Reading blogs and tutorials and listening to podcasts is important, but not nearly as important as having a tangible product to show as an example of what you can do. And you can’t learn to build websites by following a “Build-A-Blog-In-10-Minutes” tutorial. Find something you’re interested in and build a site for it. Think something can be done better? Improve it. Need something for yourself that doesn’t exist? Build it. You never learn something as well as when you have a clear goal in mind. Simply re-typing “Hello World” examples isn’t enough.
For Illustrators, the answer is simple…draw. It’s impossible to not get better at something you do every day, so keep drawing. I’ve been drawing for as long as I could hold a crayon and still have massive room for improvement. Also, follow artists you respect and whose style you like. Join Deviant Art and follow artists on Twitter or Facebook. Watch their tutorials, study their technique, ask them questions, then put your own spin on it. As with development, the most important thing is to just create something.
Be fearless. Don’t just take on projects within your comfort zone. Sometimes the project that scares you the most is the one you must accept. For instance, I’d never done a storyboard in my life before coming to IQ. But I’ve drawn dozens of comic strips, and the parallels between the two are many. I was terrified, but confident enough I could pull it off. Now I have three under my belt.
Where do you see web development headed in the future?
The standard desktop web is gone. Monitors are bigger, but devices are getting smaller. A website built today needs to look good and work well on devices and displays that don’t even exist yet. Gone are the days of separate “mobile” websites with separate code bases that get out of date the second they’re published.
The future is ONE website with ONE code base that serves all devices and resolutions. The time is rapidly approaching when any developer that can’t deliver that simply won’t get the job.