PageCrush brings forth another fantastic designer, Colin Anton Ochel of Lime Interactive and his history of design and ongoing passion regarding Internet possibilities. Colin is a veteran of Internet design and marketing. Obtaining a B.F.A. in New Media Studies from Syracuse University. Colin took his studies and moved to the corporate world where he discovered his creative abilities were limited. Venturing off onto his own, Colin formed his own company and soon realized he could serve boundless from Creative Director to Information Architect, Account Manager and Sales Force. Skilled with many possibilites and design knowledge, Colin has landed opportunities with Fortune 500 clients; Such as JPMorgan Chase, Johnson & Johnson, AOL, Financial Times and Sony to name a few. Colin believes solid solutions begin with fresh ideas. With this said, we’d like to encourage you to read on as PageCrush would like to learn more about Colin and his enthusiasm of a creative mind.
Q. Where are you located?
The Jersey Shore, USA.
Q. What is your company and its purpose?
Lime is an interactive design shop. I have always tried to push the limits of the medium which is becoming more and more difficult because you can pretty much do anything your mind can imagine these days.
Q. Colin, do you have team members that work in other locations around the world you collaborate with? Or is your company’s production mainly based out of New Jersey?
I mainly work alone but I do leverage my past employees at times for specific talents that I do not posses. Mostly in the back end department. They are all pretty local. Some of them have moved across the country but that is about as far as they have transplanted.
Q. Is the majority of your work catered to local clients or are you recognized on a national or international level?
I would say international. My focus is helping ad agencies help their clients so my work runs the gamut. I recently finished a site for Toto who is “the Kohler” of Japan. My first real client was a Japanees television company so I guess I have come full circle.
Q. How was Lime Interactive founded as a company?
Funny story (I think) I started out with a business partner. He focused on the 3D broadcast world and I focus on the interactive world. We were basically two guys working out of his shared apartment basement trying to make it on our own. One day we received a lead that a start-up Japanees television company was looking to get four 10 second station ids done for their launch which was in eight weeks. We received notice on a Thursday that we would be meeting with them on Monday so we went down to Soho and found some sublet space that next day. We bought a bunch of IKEA furniture and threw together an office. Sketched out our ideas and landed the job. We discovered later that we were the only ones crazy enough to take on the job. We both worked 16 to 20 hours everyday for eight weeks. I remember running to the airport to hand deliver the beta tape the day before the station was going on air.
Q. Your studies and work started in 1993 before the Internet became a vast craze. How did you get your start in the web and design world?
I went to school at Syracuse University. In 1993 SU was connected to the “World Wide Web” and since my major was New Media Studies, the department decided to create a class teaching you everything about the Web. At the time it was very limiting. You basically could add a picture and align it to the left, right or center. Plus you could add text and change it’s color. WOW. So our assignment was to create a web site on anything we wanted to do. I decided to make a site on Tattoos since I would draw them at the time. ( Very embarrassing but you can see what it looked like in 1994 at; http://web.archive.org/web/19961212124132/http://ziris.syr.edu/dj/dj.tatoos/tatoos.html )
Well around the same time, the founders of Yahoo were putting together their first release of Yahoo.com. Since there really was not much out there at the time, my tattoo site was on Yahoo.com the very first day it launched.
On a side note, I tried to sell t-shirts I made on my tattoo site but my teacher made me remove the content because she said that the internet (World Wide Web at the time) was not created to make money. I wonder if she still thinks that.
Q. What kept you motivated throughout this period of learning and educating yourself on such a new trend at the time?
I needed a job. I must admit, I went to school to become a 3D animator and vowed to my teacher I would never get a job in the “World Wide Web” because it was so limiting. But after I graduated from college, I had the opportunity to move into a rent controlled apartment in New York City so I needed a job quick. Well back in 1995, if you knew HTML, you could get a job.
Q. What is your biggest project(s) to date?
I would say the one that has received the most buzz would be cleanishappy.com . ML Rogers Agency hired me to help them create a web site for their new “smiling butts” campaign. They were great to work with. They gave me great direction, content and let me do my thing.
Q. In the beginning of your career, how did you build your portfolio and start this process from perhaps one or two projects? What gave your portfolio strengths for clients to admire your work?
My first job (the Japan’s TV station) paid me enough money so I could move out of the one room sublet and renovate a 4000 sqft loft right off Union Square Park in NYC. At the time, there was only three of us so we used the six rooms we constructed as bedrooms. My business partner and myself each used one and we rented out the other four to NYU students.
The space was impressive, in fact it was showcased in HOW design magazine, so when a potential client walked through our doors, they assumed we knew our stuff. We also targeted the big interactive agencies of the time like Agency.com, USWeb, Organic, etc. and were given their scraps. I remember having a conversation with an agency that now does not exist and they had so much work, they were turning anything down that was less than $300,000! So I set up a relationship that I would give them a 10% finders fee for any projects they fed us. It worked really well.
Q. How did you make the jump from working in a corporate world to working for yourself and feeling confident you could support yourself financially?
Unfortunately I was heavily focused in the Financial Sector and Start-Ups with seed money when “the Bubble” burst; Which sent the stock marketing crashing. Marketing budgets froze and no one was giving out seed money so I had to down size quickly. I was offered a two plus year opportunity to consult for JPMorgan so I decided to take the job for many professional and personal reasons.
After the two plus years, I found myself with a company of one. So I had to start all over again. I targeted ad agencies once again but this time as an individual. It has worked pretty well but there is so much competition now that it is very hard to get in front of the right people. You really need to know someone.
It is scary to go off on your own without a safety net but it is what I have been doing since I graduated college so I do not know anything else. It always seems to work out.
Q. This is for many aspiring designers wishing to make it big, at present, how do you obtain most of your work or jobs and how do you handle your work load solely on your own?
I use talent agencies to find me the work. It sucks that they get a cut of my rate but I look at them as my sales force.
You need to be willing to work as long as it takes to get it done. If that means working 20 hour days seven days a week, you just do it. I do leverage past employees to help me out on specific talents or when the scope blows up but the deadline does not move.
Q. How often do you really get to travel for your work and is traveling in itself an inspiration for design and production within your company?
I usually work from home so I rarely travel for work but I would say the greatest aspect being a freelancer is that you can work where and when you want. My wife and I love to travel so I travel all over the world with my laptop making a 20 hour flight into two work todays. ( I bring four batteries). I think it is very important to travel. It is definitely insparational but more importantly, it gives you a different perspective.
Q. What are your biggest achievements that you are proud to make mentions of?
Finding someone I can grow old with.
Q. With your work, what do you hope to achieve in the long run?
To be able to pick and choose the jobs I decide to work on.
Q. What was the toughest challenges?
Being able to separate my personal life with my work life. It is very hard to escape your work when you work from home.
Q. How do you think digital multimedia will be in the future?
I will look 10 years ahead because you would think I was a nut if I look any further into the future. It will be very interesting to see how our society will be structured because you will have access to everything anywhere. One medium that is going to change a lot in the next decade is our “TV’s”. It is clear that the internet will be integrated with what we call TV. It will begin by changing the way we think of a commercial. With VOD, commercials will need to be intigrated into the shows and not 30 second linear breaks cutting up the show. It will be more like a product placement. You may see an outfit that your favorate actor is wearing so you could click on the jeans and the show would pause. You would go to something like a web site to learn more about it, one click purchase the item and then return to watching the show. What will be interesting are the shows that will come out because of the technology. “Reality Shows” are going to go to a whole other level.
Q. Any advice you’d like to leave inspired artists and designers with?
Be truthful to your clients and yourself. Your word is all you have, so be honest. Know your limitations and focus on your strengths. Always deliver when you say you will. Go to sites like PageCrush to get inspired but never copy an idea.
Q. Is there anything else you’d like to share that was not covered above?
Thank you for giving me this opportunity to share my views and for taking the time to read my rambles.
PageCrush would like to say:
Colin, you are a hard worker and dedicated to your field of passion. Designers and artists from all over should take note on success stories such as this and be inspired. It was a great pleasure to talk with you. PageCrush thanks you for your time and dedication.
For more of Colin’s work and designs, please visit: www.colinochel.com