.net: How did you get into web design?
Shane Mielke: In college, a friend of mine used Photoshop to create fake IDs. He also experimented a lot with print, 3D and video. I was always looking over his shoulder when he was designing, and the things he created captivated me. After I graduated, a close friend of mine was working for a small web company and I started learning things from him. The rest is history.
.net: Why Flash?
SM: I love Flash because it enables artists and developers of various skills and backgrounds to create things based on how their minds work. The application is so diverse that you can literally develop the same project 100 different ways. Some people love the timeline, others think and move in code, while some of us are ambidextrous. The strength of Flash is that there’s no perfect way to develop your project, which enables people to continually push the limits.
.net: Have you played with Adobe Apollo yet, and what excites you about it?
SM: Unfortunately, I haven’t made the time to start playing with Apollo. Most of the projects I’m involved with these days are large marketing sites focused primarily on design, motion and effects. There hasn’t been a need for me to really tap into Apollo, since most of these projects are not applications or widgets requiring the interaction of multiple technologies.
.net: What part do web standards play in your work?
SM: I’ve been coding since 1996, so I’m not exactly a web standards zealot who feels that all sites need to be CSS-only. I believe that every technique (old and new) has a place in the bag of tricks we use to develop sites. The key is looking at each project individually and evaluating all of the goals and limitations. Numerous factors play a part in how strictly a site should be developed. Just because you’re trying to code by standards doesn’t mean the code is going to be cleaner or that the site is going to be easier to update in the future.
.net: Other than Flash, what tools make up your web design arsenal?
SM: Photoshop, Dreamweaver, After Effects and my trusty Canon 5D camera and lenses. I take pictures everywhere I go, and I’m constantly trying to use those pictures in my work. Using photos I’ve taken in the past or going out to take photos specifically for a project enables me to control more of the creative.
.net: What do you do when you’re not designing?
SM: Spending time with my wife and daughter is my most important activity outside of work. When I was younger, a lot of my free time was focused on work and establishing myself. Now that I have a child and some success, the focus has changed and I’m away from the computer more often. Outside of my family, I fit in photography, working out and coaching high school football.
.net: Are there any parallels between your athletic endeavours and your work in web design?
SM: I’d say that the hard work, teamwork, problem-solving and pain tolerance I learned in American Football has directly translated to how I handle work. I’ve had some crazy football coaches, so it takes a lot to rattle me on a project. I once stayed up 56 hours to meet a deadline, but it felt easy compared to what I went through on the football field.
.net: What’s with the interesting name?
SM: My middle name (Seminole) comes from the name of a tribe of Native American Indians who never signed a peace treaty with the US Government. My father wanted me to have the same “never give up” attitude in life.
.net: Which work are you most proud of?
SM: I’m happy with everything I’ve done, but I cannot say that any single project stands out as my best work. I don’t think I’ve completed that project yet. If I had to pick favourites, I’d say Nintendo Metroid Prime Pinball and Nintendo Game Boy micro.
.net: What annoys you about the web design industry, and what inspires you the most?
SM: Anonymous trolls who sit behind message board names with no work to back up their comments. They’re annoying. I’m inspired by people who use their free time to pursue their personal dreams, explore art, photography, sports or hobbies that are not everyday activities. It’s so easy to get caught up in only doing the work that pays us money.
.net: What one piece of advice do you have for us?
SM: Surround yourself with people who have the skills you want and are the type of people you want to be. Misery loves company and that goes for the good-hearted successful people who are at the top of their game, and the negative people who sit at the bottom wondering why they never accomplish anything significant.