Serj Kozlov Interview
Hi, my name is Serj Kozlov. I’m a freelance web designer living and working in Toronto, Ontario. I’ve been interested in different kinds of art since childhood, but I didn’t seriously think about becoming a designer until 2002.
A friend of mine who was a designer at the time asked if I wanted to try designing a site for some company. I don’t remember what the design ended up looking like (I’m pretty sure it was quite ugly), but since then, web design has been what I do for a living.
Where do you look for sources of inspiration?
I try to look for inspiration everywhere. As I once read in a book, you need to maximize your intake to get creative ideas. The more you pay attention to the things around you, the better your chances of finding interesting ideas. You just always need to be prepared, because it can hit you when you least expect it. At least for me, it happens all the time. I can get an idea or solution for a project or problem I’m working on when I’m walking down the street, watching a movie or doing something else. So, for me, it’s a matter of being curious and staying focused.
What is your favourite aspect of web design?
I just love the entire creative process. Creating something out of nothing is so much fun. I believe it’s the same feeling of excitement that every writer or artist gets when they start with a blank canvas and eventually create something new, something that has never existed before.
What are your top 5 favourite websites?
- http://www.behance.net – Amazing site with a lot of talented people.
- http://css-tricks.com – I’m sure everyone knows CSS-Tricks and Chris Coyier by now, but for those who don’t, CSS-Tricks is one of the most useful websites on the Internet for web professionals.
- http://www.smashingmagazine.com – Another well-known website with loads of useful information.
- http://www.thecssawards.com – My favourite CSS gallery.
- http://500px.com/photos – Great photo community. There are plenty of fantastic photos, and while I’m not a photographer myself, I find the website very inspiring.
Who do you look up to in your field?
I’ve always been amazed by Dylan Cole’s work. He is a matte painter and concept artist, and even though matte painting has little to do with web design, it’s simply amazing how Dylan can take a regular photo and turn it into a fantasy scene. Check out the work he’s done for The Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Riddick, and see for yourself. I’m also a big fan of CSS-Tricks and Chris Coyier. I learned everything I know today about front-end development from Chris.
What sort of social media tools have you found most successful?
That would definitely be Twitter. Even though I’ve been using Twitter for only about two months, I absolutely love it. It’s an awesome tool to connect with other creative people, get inspiration and promote yourself as a professional.
Where did you get your inspiration from when designing your website?
From the very beginning, I knew I wanted to have some sort of illustration on the home page, but I wasn’t sure what kind. I wanted it to be something design-related, yet a bit futuristic. As I recall, I was listening to the audio book for H.G. Wells’ Time Machine while working on the design. So I guess it affected my thinking–whether consciously or subconsciously–and I came up with the illustration that you see there.
What would be your perfect dream project?
I like to create unique environments by blending multiple images together. And I’ve always liked these graphic-rich official movie and video-game websites, so trying a project like that would definitely be fun.
What piece of work are you most proud of and why?
I think the piece of work I am most proud of is my portfolio website itself. For me, a portfolio is not only a place to showcase your work, it’s also a vantage point from where you can look back on your designs and see how your views have changed, what things you’ve learned and maybe even how your perception of the world has evolved. Redesigning your own portfolio is probably one of the hardest projects to do. But it’s definitely a great place to try out new skills and ideas and perhaps learn something new.
What advice would you give to someone starting out online?
I don’t really have much to add to the ton of information available on the Internet about this, but I guess it wouldn’t hurt to reiterate the most important advice, which in my opinion is, never stop learning. If you persist and keep learning and practicing all the time, then nothing should keep you from succeeding.
What’s your biggest design/internet pet peeve?
I’m sorry, I can’t think of one.
Looking into a crystal ball, what do you think will be the next design trend?
That’s a tough one… I was never good at predicting the future, but I think the next design trend (well, more of a coding trend that might affect design) will be somehow connected to the rapidly growing popularity of CSS3 and HTML5. People will use CSS3 and HTML5 features more and more in place of traditional graphics. Also, current trends such as rich typography, subtle textures and use of infographics are still very strong, and I think we’ll be seeing only more of these, but used more deliberately and for purpose, not just because they’re trendy.
What can we expect from Serj in the upcoming year?
A lot of things! I’m currently working on quite a few interesting concept designs, which I’ll add to my portfolio once they’re done. You can also expect more retouching and photo-manipulation tutorials, as well as some quick Photoshop tips. Also, I’ll release my first free PSD layout in the near future. So, stay tuned and (here comes some shameless self-promotion) follow me on Twitter to make sure you don’t miss any updates.