Today I would like to sit down and take in this great interview I have managed to put together, A big thanks and introductions are reserved for Joshua Rapp of Rappsody Studios. (You may also know him from the Motley Design Crew.) Another great designer who I have been lucky enough to connect with over the social networks, the odd Google Wave and a few great email conversations.
1. Hi Joshua, I would like to extend my thanks for taking your time out for this interview for the design juices community. Could you please quick introduce yourself to the Design Juices readers.
My name is Joshua Rapp and I’m currently the owner and creative director of Rappsody Studios based out of wherever I place my notebook.
Active member Motley Design Crüe and host of the MotleyCrue Cast. Although most wouldn’t know it, fine southern gentleman.
2. We know you as a part of Rappsody Studios, How long has that been running and what first brought you to be a part of this.
I started the studio my senior year of college and I have been doing this for close to 8 years now which is hard to believe and makes me feel old. Ha ha. Believe it or not I have my degree in Mechanical Engineering (which always appeals to my interests in creating new things) I went back to school after I graduated to study 3D/2D animation and graphic design. So I’ve freelanced in intervals until about 2008 when I switched to focus more on the studio as a whole.
3. What is Rappsody studios and what do you do over there?
Rappsody Studios is a full web and media solutions firm. We handle video production, any form of design work, Animation, marketing and branding. As of late we’ve seen an influx of WordPress clients and just recently we moved ourselves over to a full WordPress server install. I say we because I have an open door policy on how people work with me on projects, and I’m blessed to be surrounded by good friends and creative colleagues. So at any time we may have 4-5 people that I can call upon on as ‘staff’.
4. What inspires your creativity the most, do you find your inspiration the most online, in print, in the world around you?
You can pull inspiration from anywhere. I tend to keep both a digital and physical inspiration notebook. When I’m not working on a web design I’m usually knee deep in some illustration. Being part of a group or community helps. I’m a big fan of Frank Herrera’s work, and I often compete in the artistic challenges on sketchoholic.com. The internet has had a huge impact in how we communicate and helped me connect with some fantastic individuals at the same time whom I might not have had the pleasure of knowing otherwise.
As an artist you try to draw something everyday. Most of the time I like to focus on subject matter or techniques I’m not use to or that comfortable with so that way I can keep my skills sharp while at the same time learning something new.
Design galleries seem to be a dime a dozen anymore, but I think there are some good ones out there like designfloat.com and dailydesigninspiration.com, I just joined a dribble like community called Forrst. I’ve uploaded a couple of pieces but I haven’t really had time to dig down deep into the site.
When it comes to writing any design articles that I write professionally, from time to time I find it hard to really pull for inspiration, sometimes I don’t even know how I do it. I was heard someone say ‘As a designer or a creative individual, you only have so many great ideas in you’, which I agree with to an extent.
I’ll usually read some books or browse a couple of blogs to gain perspective on what others are doing at the moment. I’m a big fan of product design (engineering background rearing its head). So although it may seem as if I may be trying to have a battle of mental powers with a camera, I actually try to put myself in the mindset of the designer that made the product. And dare I say it (going to show how big of a geek I am) I LOVE comic books, I usually read stuff by Garth Ennis (the Boys) and Ben Templesmith and Ben McCool (Choker and 30 Days of Night).
5. As a recent graduate myself I wanted to know how did you get your first job once leaving formal education?
My mother. Ha ha ha. My mother worked as the triage nurse on call at the hospital and ran into the husband of an acquaintance of hers. She and her husband both run Interactive Design & Development in Virginia. So I think this still holds true, but most of the time it’s not what you know but who you know. I spent a good bit of my spring, summer, and fall working as the only person in their art department as the interactive guru/3d guy. It was a series of online tutorials and training materials for the American Federation of Teachers being my core project, while I built garden center kiosks (from the ground up literally ugh) for Home Depot.
In the end I was glad to gain the experience (and paycheck), and I learned not to take things for granted, I think I was given too much power too soon.
6. Which are your two best projects in your portfolio, is the client the most important on a project? or Is it the work and project which take most importance?
I would have to say my work for the American Federation of Teachers, I built a interactive 3D game on how to properly arrange your classroom, I’m still proud of that ‘on the fly’ game engine we developed and the work I did with Modea on the T-Mobile campaign, I got to handle and work with a lot of their handsets before they came out on the market some could develop all of their training emulators.
On any project no matter what your doing the client is always right… to an extent. James Tryon and I just spoke about this in the 5th MotleyCrue Cast. The client may be wrong, but you should take the time to educate them why you’ve made the choices you have. Because they have come to you because you know more about what you’re doing than they do. Now don’t let this go to your head and think that your client is never right. Sometime they might provide that fresh of eyes that aren’t (for lack of a better word) jaded by your designer’s/developers mindset. That is why User Experience testing and design is pivotal, I think, to any project.
7. Has there been any particular negative events which have shaped your career in design? How did you overcome this event?
It wasn’t so much of a design challenge as a client challenge. I did some work for a client (using flash) to build a t-shirt designer. I tend to from time to time work with international clientele. And it was a saving grace at the moment was the advent of Flash Catalyst which also allowed me to integrate my work with Flash. At the end of the project I completed the application, but you can’t always please everyone, and we went our separate ways. I walked away from the project with an understanding that I can’t do everything all of the time and when and where to set my boundaries and how to set realistic goals.
Now with my clients I set boundaries on when and how I can be contacted. Making yourself available all the time could end up being disastrous. I’m the voice of experience.
8. Which people in the social media community such as twitter, do you enjoy speaking to on a weekly/daily basis?
The Motley Design Crue is always a wealth of good information, support and humor. It’s really hard to name everyone I talk to on a daily basis, I talk to so many people. I actually had a client that once their solution was finished we started working on a friendship and he’s still a good friend till this day. I’m in the business of building bridges, not burning them.
9. Could you recommend any design sites/blogs which our readers may not have found before? which you read on a weekly basis.
- Video Copilot Blog (Good Video and 3D)
- Escape From Illustration Island – Thomas James
- Herrea’s Blog in the Box – Frank Herrera
- Popaganda – Ron English
- The Ward-o-Matic – Ward Jenkins
- Kitsune Noir – Bobby Solomon
- 52 Weeks of UX – Joshua Porter and Joshua Brewer
- UX Booth
- Sketchoholic – Bobby Chiu
- Process Junkie – LUCIO ALBERTO RUIZ-DIAZ
- joepekar.com – Joe Pekar
- Website and Blog: www.rappsodystudios.co.cc
- Twitter: @rappsodystudios
- Facebook, Personal: www.facebook.com/joshuarapp
- Facebook, Fanpage: www.facebook.com/rappsody
- Ember: www.emberapp.com/artist_jrapp
- DeviantART: artistjrapp.deviantart.com or joshuarapp.daportfolio.com
I have yet to sell a kidney.
I hope to get back into some good 3D work.
I will not ignore my stomach.
I would like to find Sasquatch.
I wish I could be better recognized for all my work (I know it sounds vain).
There will be a shift in the perception of things we do creatively.
I hope there will be no more freaking monsoon weather or blistering heat in Florida. Make up yo mind weather!
My biggest achievement will be retreating into the everglades and befriending and alligator named Peter.
Quick Fire Five:
Apple or Microsoft? Microsoft, Steve Jobs is a cult leader.
Helvetica, yey or ney? Ney, catch up with my creative typography internetz.
Digital versus Hand Drawn? A marriage of the two.
Notepad or Moleskine? Moleskine
Twitter or Facebook? Both
11. If you had no work in your to-do pile and had a months vacation booked with no limit on expenses. What what would you do with your time?
Spend time with my kids and the Candice (girlfriend) traveling the world, delighting people with tunes like the Von trap family. ha ha ha ha. I would get back into music as much as I had been. Ever since I moved to Florida I haven’t had much personal time to do much of anything.
12. What do you find most relaxing to do when not designing or being creative? Do you get enough of this time?
I’m a huge Bibliophile, I love the smell of an old leather bound book. You can ask anyone who knows me, I like the movies. Movies in general, but the actually experience of going to the movie theater. The smell of the popcorn and good architecture always get me. Get me started on the topic of the paranormal, esoteric, or Cryptozoology and I’ll gab like a teenage girl for hours.
Do I get enough time to do these things? No because I freelance for a living. HA! No you just have to learn how and when to make time.
Can you recommend a designer we should get to know, or would you like to put forward yourself for a short interview either for Design Juices. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch.