I’m Chris, a UI Designer / Graphic Designer / Art Director / Animator / Photographer / Guy Who Uses His Eyeballs to Improve Stuff.
FineSt. is my portfolio.
I have been doing professional design work since 1999. While my area of emphasis has evolved over the years, my primary objective of every single project has been to maintain the highest level of quality possible within the given project scope or time frame.
My earliest work is primarily animation, Flash motion graphics and interactions. As my responsibilities have grown, I’ve focused not only on simple aesthetics, but on the total user experience — eventually leading to the work I’m most proud of as Lead Designer for Flypaper Studio, where I’ve spent the last 6+ years creating an award winning design application from the ground up.
The first idea is rarely the best idea. Even if it turned out to be the best, no one ever knows that at the beginning because it hasn’t been vetted against lesser ideas.
Asking questions early and iterating on solutions is incredibly important — as important as the final solution itself — regardless of the project type or the medium it is ultimately presented in. This principle was the inspiration for me to make snapshots from my sketchbooks on this Website. The sketching process is how I make sense of my stream of consciousness and how I direct that stream into actionable ideas. Some sketches are good, some are bad, and some are ugly. But they are also an absolutely necessary step in my design process in order to create a beautiful, finished product.
When Flypaper Studio, Inc. was founded in 2007 our CEO, Greg Head, had one bit of required reading for the core team: The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity, by Alan Cooper. This book was an instant revelation, clearly demonstrating how and why software… frankly stinks. It voiced feelings I already held, but fleshed out a bigger picture I hadn’t ever imagined, directly tying Design to business success or failure. Great design is not just a “nice-to-have”; it is absolutely critical in the success of long-lasting products. Engineers can solve problems, but it takes Design (from the minds of talented Designers) to create solutions that are desirable.
FineSt. is mostly about Me, but one person cannot do it alone. Without the support of Engineers, Designers, Project Managers, and Quality Assurance, very few of my portfolio examples would have been possible. I have had the great fortune of collaborating with remarkable people who place a high value on a quality finished product. These values are infectious — when one team member raises the bar, the others quickly step up to match. Once you’ve experienced collaboration like that, it becomes difficult to accept anything less.
It’s All Fun
A few years ago, I was introduced to the concept of the 3 Types of Fun:
- Type 1 Fun is fun while it’s happening and fun to talk about later.
- Type 2 Fun isn’t fun while it’s happening but it’s fun to talk about later.
- Type 3 Fun isn’t fun while it’s happening and it’s not fun to talk about later.
But it’s all Fun!
I work long, often difficult hours. I’ve spent years in the trenches with start-ups. I’ve survived multiple mergers, acquisitions, and rounds of layoffs. I’m familiar with midnight take-out menus and red-eye camaraderie as new builds are QA’d and presentations are polished.
None of the Types of Fun could exist without the others, so I keep it lighthearted. I smile. I joke around. I’m a big fan of puns and nonsense. I don’t let stress become an obstacle. It’s important to know how to step away, take a deep breath, and appreciate (or even develop) a fresh perspective. If life isn’t fun, what’s the point?
“Write the story, take out all the good lines, and see if it still works.”
– Ernest Hemingway
As I write the list that appears below, I notice a red thread: Most of my major influences share not only an inspired creative mind, but a love and mastery of technical detail. Many here are each: a concert of jazz and clockwork, silliness and sobriety, a marriage of left and a right. I believe these people are truly marvelous because of their creative spirit, but we only know their names due to their discipline and respect for practical execution.
So, in the order I happened to think of them one afternoon, these are the giants whose shoulders I’m standing on…
Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, Kai Krause, Edward Tufte, Zbigniew Rybczynski, Chuck Jones, John Linnell and John Flansburgh (TMBG), The Cuban Council (k10k), Craig Robinson, James Paterson (Presstube), Alexander Calder, J.D. Salinger, David Mitchell, Michael Stipe, Mike Doughty (Soul Coughing), John Stockton, Tracy Slinger, Peter Lord, Shigeru Miyamoto, Eli Cruz, Jim Lee, Ansel Adams, William Faulkner, Jerry Sloan, Brad Bird, Eadward Muybridge, Mike Wilkes, Hayao Miyazaki, Bill Plimpton, Michel Gondry, Spike Jonze, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Jim Henson, Peter Jackson, The Brothers Chaps, The Brothers Quay, Stanley Kubrick, Pablo Ferro, Chopin, Tchaikovsky, Steve Wozniak, Alan Cooper, Jared Tarbell, John Waters, Henry Selick, Roald Dahl, Ray Harryhausen, Moebius, Pete Seeger, Gary Gannon & Josh Allen & Mike Bailey, Greg Head, Sid Meier, Dr. Demento, Adam Yauch, Melissa Martinez, P Eric Waldmann, Neil Gillingham, Pablo Picasso, Leonardo DaVinci, Hillman Curtis, the Monty Python crew, Trent Reznor, Genesis, Dr. Seuss, Cabel Sasser, Peter Schickele, Brian Eno, and Butch Vig
And it seems crazy to type all those names without typing the most important of them all: my wife Sharon, my folks and family, Ollie the dog, and Pecker the cat.
Thank you for your interest
That is who I am. If your enterprise shares these values — quality and design — at its very core, I’d love to talk.