Can you tell us a little bit about how you got in to the world of web design?
I actually got started in the world of design in 2001 as a lithographic printer in the Armed Forces. I would spend half of my time operating the presses and the other in the prepress suite designing and prepping the artwork. It was here that I was first introduced to programs such as Illustrator and Photoshop.
It wasn’t until I was tasked to design and build an interactive CD-ROM that I first encountered HTML. I muddled through and eventually came up with an end product that was passable but more importantly I was hooked – this was something that was in complete contrast to the static nature of print work and I loved it.
I think like most in this industry I then experimented with different techniques, programs, languages and the more I dabbled the more I wanted to learn. Eventually I left the Armed Forces to concentrate solely on web design and the rest as they say is history!
What was your original inspiration behind Premium Pixels?
There wasn’t too much of a motive behind Premium Pixels originally other than to experiment with design in ways which I couldn’t necessarily with clients. Premium Pixels served, and still does, as a place I can justifiably play around with elements I have never been tasked to design before or try out new design ideas in general.
How do you find the time to create so many top quality freebies so regularly?
It can be very tough do so consistently but the only solution is to make it. I typically set aside some time each morning to play around with a new ideas before concentrating on “real work” later. I tend to work on the larger freebies over a period of time making small additions each day. That and I work very long hours 😉
What plans do you have for Premium Pixels in 2011?
2011 is going to be a great year for Premium Pixels. There will be a small facelift shortly which I’m very excited about and the freebies will continue to come thick and fast. I have had a number of requests from other designers looking to contribute their own files which I will also be looking at.
Another new addition for 2011 will be the introduction of tutorials (another frequent request) so designers can get a better understanding of how I have designed a particular element rather than just downloading the final result.
You’ve recently started freelancing full time. How have you found the first few months?
So far so good, I’ve managed to take on a grand total of 0 clients, all planned of course! When I took the plunge I vowed to spend some time working on my own projects before concentrating on client work – it has been great, a very rewarding process. I do however have a number of upcoming client projects which I can’t wait to get stuck into!
Do you find it easy to separate client work with your own projects?
Finding the time to work on both can be extremely difficult. It’s also very frustrating when you find yourself spending more time on one than the other. Ultimately the trick is to take on client work that you will enjoy as it will limit resentment – easier said than done in a lot of cases.
I try to limit my client involvement to just one project at a time. I find this beneficial for both myself and the client as they get my undivided attention which generally results in a better final product. It also allows enough time to work on personal projects in the “downtime” of the client project e.g. the days between client feedback etc.
Your WordPress themes are proving very popular on ThemeForest! What do you think makes a theme popular on marketplaces?
In general I think a well designed theme that will suit a variety of purposes has the potential to become popular. More often that not that means not over-designing the theme, just giving it a sense of character while not taking away from its ability to be customised.
What theme options and customisations have proven most popular with people purchasing your themes?
So far the most popular features/requests have been for shortcodes. Shortcodes, when used in moderation, are great for allowing the non-technical user the ability to add styled content to the theme with very little effort – buttons, columns and alerts are proving particularly popular.
Are there any designers in the industry that you really admire?
Far too many to list! Naturally I admire those designers that have huge ability in areas where I would like to improve – illustration, icons and logo design specifically. Sean Farrell, Pasquale D’Silva and the SoftFacade team spring to mind.
What hobbies do you you have to help switch off from the internet
I try to spend as much time with my dog as possible, being a Siberian Husky he needs a lot of exercise – perfect for getting me away from the screen! Other than that hobbies have taken a back seat since the arrival of my 3 month old son. I’m sure any parent will agree, finding time for yourself can be difficult in the early days… but I wouldn’t have it any other way 🙂