Let's start off with your personal details, OK?
When and where born?
I entered the scene on December 18th, 1968. Born in Elizabeth, South Australia.
Blue. ...um, are these details really important?
Hey, just answer the questions please.
Left or right handed?
Lefty, of course.
Any distinguishing features?
Well, I now have a long scar straight down the centre of my chest, due to recent open heart surgery for the insertion of a mechanical valve.
Oh, how does that make you feel?
Put it this way: when (not if) our intelligent machines rise up against us and forcibly claim the earth from humanity, I should be looked upon favourably as one of them.
You're taking the long term view then?
Yep, and in the short term it keeps me ticking along still (literally).
Green, orange, yellow and blue.
Philosophy on work and life?
Do it right first time. Make an effort and follow through as required.
How do you view the design process. Are you comfortably in control or forever chasing the elusive?
Design isn't an easily quantifiable process, which is why I believe in being very organised and paying attention to details. Creating commercial work means that everything runs to a budget and a timeframe – this demands discipline and hard work. Creativity will only get you so far and talent can absolutely fail you if you're not prepared to follow basic principles to meet deadlines.
I've heard you relate a 'construction' analogy before – is this your process?
It should be the process for any designer. Know and understand the requirements of the customer and then plan your base construction. Nobody expects a solid building without appropriate foundations and the same is true for design projects. Most of my work heavily features tailored grids (both seen and unseen) and a lot of positional referencing throughout the layout – hence, the analogy is even more apt.
Is it all serious work and no play?
Ha! For me work is serious and I feel very responsible for producing the best I'm capable of for my clients, but you balance that with the relationships you form and the personal pleasure from making others happy with your efforts and output. Most of my real play comes away from the computer and the demands of work schedules.
I hear you like sports, which ones particularly?
Football (soccer), aussie rules, motor racing, cricket, gridiron, baseball, cycling, tennis, basketball.
I'm a keen listener to local alternative/indie music and anything made by honest artists without commercial hype and soulless production. Favourites include: Aimee Mann, Concrete Blonde, Neil Young, Sam Brown, Spy vs Spy, Alice Cooper, Lush, Alice In Chains, Gemma Hayes, Muse, Dinosaur Jr, Magic Dirt, Tool, David Bowie, Karnivool, Clouds, Pink Floyd, Natalie Merchant, Radiohead, Francis Dunnery, Jethro Tull, Low, Something For Kate, Ride, Jonatha Brooke, Bailterspace, Smog, The Tragically Hip, Even, Sam Phillips, Death Cab For Cutie, Built To Spill, Therapy?, Kashmir, Turin Brakes, Doves, Laura Veirs, Pollyanna, Leona Naess, Queen, Todd Rundgren, Sloan, Yoko Kanno.
Do you have a favourite album from one of those mentioned?
43 Minutes by Sam Brown. Written during her mother's illness and eventual death, it's a brilliant and moving experience. A complete album.
Is music visual for you?
Yes, it generates a lot of emotion and that forms into concepts, visual ideas and creative direction.
What about films and/or tv?
A good story with strong character development and quality production always adds something to the mix for me. Favourite films of mine include: Unforgiven, Blade Runner, Pan's Labyrinth, I've Loved You So Long, Broken Flowers, Fargo, Shaun Of The Dead, Lost In Translation and the Lord Of The Rings trilogy. TV favourites are: Deadwood, X-Files, Rome, NYPD Blue, Millennium, The Wire, East West 101, The Mighty Boosh.
After sport there's reading, walking, creative writing, photography.
Which genres do you read?
Science fiction and fantasy, natural history, science and technology, space, history, biography, graphic novels, manga.
Tell me more about your SF & Fantasy reading?
I enjoy novels that have a true sense of wonder and are character driven, but contain solid world building with interpersonal and political dilemmas. Authors who do this with aplomb are: CJ Cherryh, Ian Banks, Lois McMaster Bujold, Kim Stanley Robinson, Elizabeth Moon, Robert Charles Wilson, Neal Stephenson, Paula Volsky, Greg Egan, William Gibson, Ray Bradbury, Connie Willis.
And what about your manga interest – does that also include anime?
Yes, both forms cross-pollinate and heavily influence the other. I'm a big fan of the Ghost in the Shell series, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Cowboy Bebop and many others. Studio Ghibli are the masters of feature length anime and their films are exceptional experiences. My favourites from them are: Spirited Away, Grave of the Fireflies, Princess Mononoke, Nausicaa, Only Yesterday.
Obviously your love of imaginary worlds extends to illustration – have you many influences?
Painting, sketching and illustration have always been along for the ride with me. I was well into my teens before becoming seriously interested in reading, but the visual attraction via artwork was always there. During the 80's I was really keen on illustrators like Ian Miller, Chris Achilleos, Patrick Woodroffe and Boris Vallejo. I wouldn't say that I've particularly referenced their style at all, but many parts of their individual approaches were very influential to my thinking. Today, with the advent of net access, there's just so much great work to see, digital techniques to learn and styles to be influenced by. I'm always checking out new stuff, either by illustrators known to me, or by new talent. I've set links to a few favourites on my blog for people to check out themselves.
You much preferred black & white over colour for a long time?
Indeed I did. It was always apparent to me that a good understanding of creating monotone art would be of benefit. Colour is in many ways a major distraction and can hide poor design and construction in your work. I was a major fan of inked illustrations and still love to see b&w work that relies on craft and skill without the crutch of colour.
Colour is relatively cheap to produce now so the days of going without are basically gone?
Yes, it was a much different story before computers took off and now of course they completely dominate design production, which together with printing advances means that full colour is rarely not a viable option. From a design perspective it's still important to understand how to use little or no colour for budget work, or for particular effects that depend on mixes from a limited palette. Everything was hand arranged and set before technology changed the game, so colour and assembly skills were very heavily required to understand how to achieve professional finished art. I still believe that my understanding of those pre-computer desktop publishing techniques is an advantage for project planning and more detailed insight into design considerations.
Are you a font lover?
Even non-designers are keen font lovers now! I clearly enjoy the written word as much as a pretty picture and a good font really makes an impact. All designer's rely on their available fonts and I'm sure they are just like me in keeping an eye on what's out there – even more so now with web fonts picking up steam and the entire online experience changing for the better.
So, Arial or Helvetica?
Helvetica – but Arial really does have some uses. I'm no font snob!
OK, now the tough questions.
Godzilla vs King Kong, who wins?
Nobody beats Godzilla. He's the real king.
Pirates or Ninjas?
I've always been divided on this, but Pirates just win by a short parrot's beak.
Power or the Crows?
C'mon mate, there's only one team that's the pride of South Australia and they're the mighty Adelaide Crows.
And finally, what's the answer to life, the universe and everything?
Obviously. So long, and thanks for all the fish Michael!