Interview with Spencer Lavery...

Hey everyone. The weekend has finally rolled around. I saw the Dictator last night...it was funny but really just stupid.

Today's interview is with Spencer Lavery. Spencer is a WordPress wiz, an extraordinary designer, and an all around nice guy. He runs his own design studio/agency called You Love Us. I really enjoyed talking to Spencer and I hope you enjoy this interview.

Q. Why/How/When did you get into design?

A. The why is very simple, I'd always been interested in art and upon discovering that a career in graffiti attracts more police interest than employer, I quickly realised that I needed to switch mediums. I saved up as much money as I could aged 16 doing various paper-rounds and odd jobs and bought myself my first computer. I quickly set about learning Paint Shop Pro (as it came installed) and then moved onto Photoshop, my weapon of choice to this day. I actually started out simply re-creating my graffiti pieces in digital form, but in 1999 I started my own blog and as result had to teach myself how to code my own web page. As for the when, it's really hard to nail down the exact moment I felt like I sort of became a designer, but to quote from my bio briefly; "I remember the exact moment I decided I wanted to be a designer. I was 10 years old and watching TV with my parents when one of the old BBC2 adverts came on. I remember thinking they were brilliant and turned to my dad and said ‘Dad, who thinks of these adverts?‘, ‘Graphic Designers‘ he (somewhat incorrectly) replied. ‘I’m going to be one of those‘ I stated, and little did he know, one day I actually was."

Q. What has been your greatest accomplishment now?

A. That's a really tough one to answer. In all honesty I've been lucky enough to achieve everything I've set my mind to so far. I've got an incredibly one-tracked mind and once I've decided I want something I tend to obsess over it until I've got it. That said, we're talking pretty small accomplishments in the scheme of things, I should probably aim higher. My greatest though, if you could call it that, was to decide my career from an early age and teach myself everything involved to the point where I've been able to call it my job for the past 9 years now. Back when I was getting into web design in the year 1999 there were no showcase sites like siteInspire (http://siteinspire.com), no tutorial sites like Nettuts, very few books, and the few teachers I met that were interested in the web had an extremely limited knowledge. The only way to learn was to throw yourself in at the deep end and just keep trying stuff until you found something that worked, and I've done exactly that for the past decade. I'm incredibly envious of the seemingly endless wealth of information for people learning web design these days, at the risk of sounding old, it just wasn't like that in my day.

Q.  If you were to be one superhero who would it be and why?

A. This is an easy one; Batman! Not just because he was my childhood hero and my Batman figure collection would have rivalled most serious collectors, but who doesn't want to be a bad ass crime fighting ninja by night, and billionaire playboy by day? He's got it all, even without a superpower. 

Q. If you could say one thing to your eighth grade self what would it be and why?

A. Be less lazy and more focused. I wouldn't have listened though. Back at that age I was jumping from one sport to another trying desperately to find something that could hold my interest for longer than 6 months at a time, but that's what being young is all about, trying on as many different hats as possible until you find one that fits. I do regret focusing all of my energy on sports and none on my other interests like art and design though. I'm so impressed by any person so young that has already figured out what they want to do with their lives, it's remarkable.

Q. What is your biggest fear?

A. Becoming obsolete! It's worries me on a daily basis, and not just because I'm approaching the dreaded 30 years of age but because I'm also seeing people as young as 13 doing my job - and doing it well! Web and design is such a fast-paced industry that if you aren't on your toes 24-7 you can quickly fall behind. New technology and technique emerges on a daily basis and aside from being creative - it's our job to keep up to date with it all, even the parts that will be obsolete in a few months. It can get incredibly frustrating sometimes, from seeing my work like the then ground-breaking YouLove.Us parallax effect become so commonly used to the point that it's practically generic, or worse what I have dubbed The MySpace Effect. MySpace is a great example of how a skill set that takes a year to learn can become useless in even less time. I like thousands of other designers spent months learning how to customise MySpace for my clients, only for them to change the code base every few months and then become obsolete completely. It's the reason I'm hoping to move away from front end development and more into branding and advertising over the next few years, as I must admit I find keeping up with the bleeding edge technology a full-time job in itself and it has distracted me somewhat from my true passion - clever, witty and stylish ad campaigns, which is the reason I recently launched Spencer+Allday (http://spencerallday.com/) with the excellent copy writer Alastaire Allday.

For Spencer's wallpaper I wanted to use a photo I had taken earlier in the week. If you like it click here, for the Gumroad link to buy it for only $0.99.

That's all! An interview with Jon Gold will be coming out very soon!

Thank you Spencer,

instantbight