Friday, March 20, 2009
Q: Introduce us to yourself and your company.
Adrian Morley, Managing Director and founder of award winning company The Seen, started in 2003.
The Seen is a creative design business with strategic thinking and a stand out attitude. We apply creative logic to big ideas. Based in the UK
Q: Interactive Producers come from all walks of life, they are a hybrid of talents, tell us about your background and how you got interested in digital production?
My love of type, layout and graphic design was born out of a love for graffiti in the mid 80’s. After watching Style Wars on TV my friends and I were converted immediately.
One of the first in the UK to enjoy a BA degree course specialising in multi-media (at Wolverhampton University) with classes from leading American multi-media experts. This was my first encounter with interactive design as we had projects focussing on dynamic CD rom design and build and early website construction.
In 1992 my formal design career began at Helix, the international stationery organisation, where I was a key designer in launching highly successful nationwide licensed product ranges for Pepsi, Friends, Warner Bros and more. In 1995 at Helix I began my serious journey into online website design.
After launching a fully interactive children’s website for Helix, in 1999 I took up position at Plus Two Studio a small design studio specialising in the Music and Extreme Sports industries. It was here where my full creative website and progressive graphic design work really flourished with some great wide open creative briefs.
In 2001 I was lucky enough to be head hunted by the BAR Honda Formula One Team, as Graphic Designer, working under the leadership of both Craig Pollock and also David Richards (Prodrive & Aston Martin Racing). Here I worked for the Business Development and Marketing departments, helping to secure a number of high profile sponsorship deals for the team and developing a dynamic and interactive post race flash device that was sent out to all sponsors and VIP’s after each race featuring race analysis and driver interviews etc.
I was also a member of the radical BAR Honda ‘Pure Racing’ rebrand project working with a London Creative Director of Tango and First Direct fame. It was through this process that I learned first hand the power and depth of successful branding.
I was also a key decision maker in bringing the award winning Fingal Design group to the team to design and build the team website. They won 2 FWA awards for their two Honda Racing F1 Team websites.
All this lead me to realise my long standing dream when in February 2003 I created The Seen. A multi-disciplined creative design business specialising in Brand Experiences, Graphic and Website Design. Since then a number of well know names have joined the ever-expanding client list including: Aston Martin Racing, Honda Racing F1 Team, Drayson Racing, UK Trade and Investment and more.
To go back to the essence of the question - my love for design including interactive design stemmed from graffiti, hence our company name which pays homage to the legendary New York graffiti artist Seen. Now there was a man all about recognition!
Q: How do you stay on top of emerging technologies and keep your team informed and motivated?
The internet is an invaluable source of new tricks and ideas. I think the quality and breadth of design and implementation has come on in leaps and bounds certainly over the last 6 or 7 years. Designers are becoming more complete now with a good understanding of different principles and a heady array of services to offer.
We are all avid readers and RSS subscribers of FFFFound, Smashing Magazine, Surf Station, Fubiz, and most of the Tuts network sites and we follow the following technology resources: Adobe Labs, A List Apart, Script and Style, CSS Tricks and Net Tuts and many more.
If we see something neat we then try to get our hands dirty by trying to recreate the technique.
I make sure all software is kept up to date to take advantage of latest techniques and tricks etc we use majority of Adobe packages.
We are all naturally self-motivated ... no dead wood allowed.
Q: What does your ideal client/project look like?
An entrepreneur who is building up a team around them. All team members excel at what they do and are left to do it by the entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurs tend to understand the positive outcome of letting people be free to do what they do best and understand the value of being different and taking a radical step in their design communication and market place. This helps us create progressive yet functional solutions for their business.
Q: How do you educate your clients and set realistic expectations for a project?
Sometimes with smaller clients they can feel the need to have to control what you are doing, which is fine as it is their business you are working for, but at the end of the day if they have no design training and experience this often gets translated into the final production(s). We try to avoid this dilution by offering their solution but at the same time offering our own interpretation backed up with rationale and examples of experience.
A good designer or design team should always steer their client towards the best route. This for us is often as important as the work itself and tends to provide the most successful outcome for the client at the end of the project.
Milestones are essential for larger projects and help to keep all heads on-track, including the client.
Q: What was the best project you have ever worked on?
Hard to pin point one as they all have different qualities from a design and working point of view, however:
It is always exciting working with Lord Drayson, the British Minister for Science, as he embraces new technologies and features for his racing team website.
Our Honda Racing F1 Team wind tunnel book was good for us as we claimed our first design award and publication for the pulp styled cover design.
Our own current site was a step forward for us and was noted by many web design showcase sites, it is also due to be published in the Web Design Index book later this year.
Q: How many projects are you comfortable producing at one given time?
5 ... anymore and it becomes harder to apply a deep level of thinking and rationale to our work/solutions.
It’s important to be able to step away and clear the head so I personally enjoy Muay Thai training twice a week and learning off camera strobe lighting photography, the latter still keeps me creative and working with layouts but in a different way (I am a Strobist nut: www.strobist.blogspot.com).
Q: What does your dream production team look like?
Red Interactive Agency for web.
Wiz for video production.
Dave Hobby (the Strobist legend) for photography.
Joey Lawrence for post production photo work, this guy’s work is truly amazing.
Peter Saville for ideas and off the wall production possibilities.
Neville Brody for graphics and print.
Steve Jobs for marketing and project launches.
Q: How do you ensure that your client’s best interests are met?
Make sure that we are designing for their target market, that we are also in tune with their business strategy and that the design is on-brand.
I do not design for my own satisfaction or to look cutting edge to other designers. This feel good exercise does not provide suitable solutions for a client.
Our design has to communicate clearly and not be cluttered. We stay on message.
A detailed brand guide is always the essential piece of documentation we produce for our clients and their workforce.
Q: What is your vision of what the next phase of our industry is going to look like?
Mid sized studios and agencies may find life tough. Small studios working as collectives seems to be a very flexible, cost effective and successful way forward for both client and designers. However, there will still be the need and justification for the big players - Fitch, Pentagram, etc
Q: Please share a snippet of wisdom that you would like to impart on our readers.
Keep it real - If you’re a designer remember who you are designing for. Design should be functional and serve to win and keep customers or viewers for your clients business.
I love the off-the-wall, pushing-the-boundary type of design that is out there but often this does not serve realistic markets. Communicate to the masses not the minority.
Know when to stop - Like all great artists, painters photographers a great piece of work is one that has not gone too far with superfluous details.
Think deep - Your design(s) should tell a story and have an essence that permeates throughout all communication channels.
Enjoy what you do.
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