DRINKING NOT DRINKING: MINNEAPOLIS
So you can get to know a little bit about the host of our upcoming Minneapolis edition of Drinking Not Drinking, WNW #210 Adam Smith agreed to take on some of our extra tough questions. He's a Creative Technologist, and co-founder of digital development agency Interface (formerly known as UDC Interactive).
As Adam puts it, "Minneapolis packs a lot of creative punch into a small population... Most of the market here still seems to skew a bit more traditional, but there is a vast amount of talent here across all mediums." There should be a good sample of that this Thursday, September 24th. If you'll be in the Minneapolis area, you can RSVP here.
Tell us your story! 140 characters, max. Just kidding :) Who is Adam Smith and how did he get here?
Adam Smith was a famous 18th Century economist who wrote The Wealth of Nations, and whose ideas and theories became the basis of modern day capitalism. Two centuries later, he would serve as my namesake and the life-long joke my dad played on me.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was very young, I wanted to be a pilot. From third grade up until my first semester of college, I wanted to be an architect.
Cities you’ve lived in, summed up in one word.
San Francisco: Balmy
Dream place you’d like to move.
Los Angeles/Southern California
How does Minneapolis inspire you? What’s the creative scene like?
Minneapolis packs a lot of creative punch into a small population. While the agency scene has somewhat diminished since the glory days of the early and mid-2000’s, I think there are a lot more city-wide efforts to inspire the arts and creativity. Most of the market here still seems to skew a bit more traditional, but there is a vast amount of talent here across all mediums.
What are you currently working on?
Currently we’re working on our own website rebuild as part of our rebrand, as well as a new website build for our branding agency partner. We also are wrapping up a health-tech web application (HIPAA Compliant) and a few Wordpress websites. We are also in preliminary talks to do a VR and Apple TV project with an internationally known composer.
You seem to apply your creativity to a variety of roles in different fields. What does the role of Creative Technologist mean to you? Does it encompass most of what you do?
I think ultimately, a creative technologist’s job is thought leadership. Production is fairly easy to come by, but bringing in a creative technologist early in the creative process can help with what the product should be in the first place. That thinking is what led us to our core brand statement: Ideas First, Technology Second.
If you weren’t a Creative Technologist, what do you think you’d be doing instead?
It’s hard to say. I probably would have focused on design, or film making.
Running an agency
You co-founded a digital development agency called Interface (formerly UDC Interactive.) When did you start thinking about starting your own agency? What were some of the challenges that you encountered along the way?
I’ve freelanced on the side for years but I’ve always resisted starting an agency, mostly due to the instability and management side of things. Last fall, the right combination of projects and a good business partner fell into place. The biggest challenge has been consistent work, and not being able to get our name out there until our rebrand was finished. We know we do great work, now it’s time to let people know.
What kind of work does Interface do? What led you to rebrand your agency?
We concept and produce digital projects. Our core focus is modern web (front-end) since that’s where most of our business comes from. However, we can also do full stack development and are very experienced integrating various APIs ranging from social to Ecommerce to content. We also make time for experiential work, as I have done some out of home projects in the past.
Inspiration & Advice
What moment or project in your career so far has made you the proudest?
The countdown timer and Twitter application for the Forever 21 store in Times Square back in 2010 is probably the best memory, even though the work was fairly simple. The Porsche Color Theory site I did in 2007 was probably the overall best project, since I got to manage a small team as well as contribute directly in a programming role.
Who most inspires you creatively?
It’s hard to point to individuals, but I think agencies like Firstborn, AKQA, StinkDigital, and B-Reel have been inspiring not only in the caliber of projects, but in the sheer consistency of being on top of their game, year in and year out.
Who are some other WNW members you admire, and why?
The person that immediately comes to mind is my friend Sean O'Brien. We met at EVB years ago and it was the first real collaboration I had with strong digital talent who really understood technology and usability in addition to elegant and smart design.
What’s the best advice for a creative that you’ve ever heard?
I was actually just thinking about this this morning. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten was: “Whatever you want to be, act like it.”
Things you would tell your high school or early twenties self.
1. Live deliberately.
2. Buy Apple stock.
3. The Boo’s always come from the cheap seats.
4. You have no reason not to be confident.
Bonus Round :)
What do you do when Not Working?
Depending on the time of year, it’s a mix of cycling, downhill skiing, NFL Football (watching, not playing) and wine.
What song always gets you in the creative zone?
The two disk set of “Perfecto Presents: Another World” by Paul Oakenfold works better than caffeine on most occasions.
Two truths and a lie
1. I used to be a guide for blind skiers.
2. I have not been on any TV shows.
3. It took me 10 minutes to think these up.
Last 3 things you googled (And yes, we will be sharing this ;))
LA Philharmonic VR, Migrating domains in Google apps, Virtual choir
Anything else you’d like to add that we haven’t asked?
Nothing that wouldn’t sound like blatant self-promotion!