Age and occupation. How long have you lived here, where did you come from, and where do you live now?
Founder + Creative Director of Swandivedigital. Lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and comes from Massachusetts.
1. "A well-performed swandive is a beautiful sight to behold - rapturously free and exuberant, elegant, yet meticulous and controlled." Frankly I see nothing wrong with a bellyflop since it makes a big splash, but tell me about your latest "swandive."
A recent project that we're very happy with was the design and creation of a 200-page report for the Task Force on National Security in the Information Age. The task force is an assembly of some of the sharpest minds in technology and policy people like Zoë Baird, Jim Barksdale, Esther Dyson, John Gage, Craig Mundie, General Wesley Clarke and so many others who are making recommendations to the government on how to best use information and technology to prevent terrorism and more effectively gather information while respecting privacy issues.
From the naked eye, one might look at the report and say, "So whats the big deal? It's a book," but there's often a lot more that goes on behind the scenes. A lot of consideration was given to how all this information needed to be presented, who the audience was (they ranged from the press to the FBI/CIA to the Senate), how it needed to be perceived, tonality, etc. Besides the overall goals and objectives of the project, the practicalities of coordinating with a large group of incredibly busy people is, at best, tricky. However, we were working with great people over at the Task Force, made it happen on time and laughed about it over cocktails once it went to press.
All in all, even though it was one of those round-the-clock projects for everyone here, it was fascinating to be involved.
As for bellyflops, sure, they sound great, but theyre painful.
2. You've worked with a wide range of clients, from a non-profit sailing organization to Enron. What's your approach to customer service?
Funny, I was thinking about that earlier because sometimes the relationship just doesn't work out, but it's better to head that off at the pass before it has the chance to become a "nightmare." We just "fired" a potential client this morning, completely withdrew our proposal. It was a satisfying "Dear John" letter. Here's an excerpt from the email that pretty well describes our thinking on what we like the client/agency relationship to be:
Swandivedigital develops relationships with clients. We view ourselves as a partner in their businesses; not just a vendor. The advantages inherent in this kind of relationship is that youre working with a company that has a desire to understand all aspects of your business, offers excellent customer service, and creates design that produces results and meets business goals. In essence, we care. Clients we enjoy working with understand the value of strategic design, the importance of branding, appreciate our portfolio work and, in general, challenge and support us so that we're able to produce the best results possible.
Our conversations as of late have led me to believe that we might be offering more than you're looking for...
Basically, we get along swimmingly with all of our clients. None have been a nightmare; quite the contrary.
3. What changes would you make to the current Olympics logo?
I'm ambivalent about it. On the positive side, it works in some respects... It's colorful, vibrant, lively. It works on an international level, which I imagine was a major consideration in the design brief. Besides the Statue of Liberty, what symbols and metaphors easily and accurately represent New York City throughout the world? I dont know whether someone in Papua, New Guinea, would respond to some of the more subtle references we New Yorkers would think of, and I think it would provincial to attempt it.
On the downside, something about the logo strikes me as cocky. I keep thinking its the Statue of Liberty (i.e. the U.S.) raising her arms in victory, not an athlete. World perception of the United States, unfortunately, is at an all-time low thanks to George Bush and Iraq, and this logo could be misconstrued as arrogant. Also, Im not at all a fan of the color scheme, especially the mix for each number in 2012, which really breaks the unity of the design in my opinion. In any case... I thought New Yorkers wore black.
Time travel question: What era, day or event in New York's history would you like to re-live?
Simple. November 7, 1626. Lets just say the Purchase of Manhattan would have an entirely different signature -- and Id be your landlord.
9pm, Wednesday - what are you doing?
Went to see Pinback at Warsaw last night. Good band out of San Diego. Check them out. I had to cancel my weekly Wednesday, 9pm bingo night at the local church to go, however.
What's your New York motto?
Light fuse and get away. If theres anything youre at all passionate about whether its starting an investment bank, becoming a ballerina or actor, opening a pizzeria, writing poetry or filming midgets naked this is the place to do it. If you succeed, youll do well. Very well. If you fail, youll sputter and stop.
Best celebrity sighting in New York, or personal experience with one if you're that type.
Had to be this...
Just after midnight on a Saturday - what are you doing?
Could be anything. This past weekend, I had just left Bouley with my girlfriend. We were celebrating one year together. [Insert sappy violins here.]
What's the most expensive thing in your wardrobe?
I prefer the most inexpensive thing, which, besides items Ive been given or acquired in some way, is a pair of pants I bought at a yard sale for a quarter and cut down to shorts. Theyre plaid or some silly pattern that I cant name and I love them.
Where do you summer?
I dont like this question it sounds so Great Gatsby, so Connecticut-priveleged. However, in the summer, I like to get out of town and after hours of traffic sometimes end up here. [Ed.- Sorry, I'm forced to bust this out from time to time. SUMMER!]
Who do you consider to be the greatest New Yorker of all-time? (Name up to three if you must.)
Almost impossible to answer theres so many great candidates: Frederick Douglas, George Gershwin, Edgar Allen Poe, Kurt Vonnegut, Theodore Roosevelt, Tupac Shakur, O. Henry... If I had to pick one, though, it would have to be Lou Ferrigno, the Incredible Hulk. Runner up would be Barry Manilow hes from Williamsburg, you know.
Just how much do you really love New York?
Enough to enjoy accusations of being bratty and insular whenever Im elsewhere.
Medication: What and how much do you take?
Nothing interesting on a regular basis; an occasional ibuprofen. However, Im a bad travel companion I recently went to South Africa and whenever Im going to be on a plane for more than three hours, I eat a ton of valium, have a few beers and sleep like Im dead. It made the return trip, which totaled three flights and 29 hours, seem like four fuzzy minutes. Who needs these new-fangled Mach 7 scramjets?
What happened the last time you went to L.A.?
I flew to LA a few months ago with a friend, but it was so we could drive through the Mojave to Las Vegas. Won a ton of money, never got stuck in traffic and didnt see LA at all a successful trip. The time before that was a stopover en route to Australia and so I was completely hopped up on valium (see previous question) and dont remember a thing about it, which is exactly how I prefer LA.
Of all the movies made about (or highly associated with) New York, what role would you have liked to be cast in?
Griffin Dunne in After Hours.
If you could change one thing about New York, what would it be?
Its easy to be cynical about some of New Yorks more obvious negatives -- Bloomberg, the mallification of almost every neighborhood, ridiculous rents and an average sale price of $750,000 for an apartment, rats, the impending cab fare hike, the fact that no one can seem to keep to the right side of the sidewalk, long working hours, coyotes in the Bronx, the constant fear of terrorism, upcoming GOP convention, so much more but, really, we have it pretty good. If I absolutely had to pick one thing to change, Id reopen the bathrooms in the subway. Did you know that every subway station, except I think one, has a bathroom? Its impossible to take a leak in this city sometimes.
The End of The World is finally happening. Be it the Rapture, War of Armageddon, reversal of the Sun's magnetic field, or the Red Sox win the World Series. What are you going to do with your last 24 hours in NYC?
In a perfect world, Ill be blissfully unaware of the impending doom and would be going about my day as usual. Theres a good chance this War of Armageddon would happen as Im sitting at my computer working, brushing my teeth or at the bodega buying more Bustello, and thats okay by me. However, if there was advance notice of it, a The End of the World is Nigh party would be fun. Id like to see my friends and have a good time before Game Over flashes.
Of course, thats a pretty cavalier attitude... The reality would more likely be me quivering in the corner scared shitless. This doesn't seem like so much fun, does it?
Read more about Brian's company at Swandive.com.