In our first post in this series, we explained visualization and how the process helps you make the awesome products you see on our site.
In this post, we’ll get to know some of the members of the Viz Team. Their paths to becoming glorified Zazzle Viz Team members are storied and eclectic (considering the cutting-edge and specialized work that they do, it’s no surprise).
Q: Not to take a line from Office Space, but…“What would you say ya do here?”
A: I landed here at Zazzle in August 2010. I like to think of myself as the glue that holds this team altogether, but the truth is that each member of our team has a unique talent and personality that makes the bonds stronger. I’ve worked throughout the years on 3D modeling software and CD-ROM games with some members of this team. The Viz Team has a diverse set of backgrounds to cover both art and engineering requirements. We all work to provide the tools that power the visualization technology on Zazzle’s site.
Q: No, really why do they keep you around?
A: I’m really good at organizing projects and I get to play that role on this team. When I used to work on video games (from ‘95-’01), I used to project manage the whole team.
Q: Give me the 30-second, speed-dating version of your background before Zazzle.
A: Made video games. Drew Pictures/Pulse Entertainment, time spent working on the cockroach video game Bad Mojo (from Wikipedia: about “An entomologist planning to embezzle money from a research grant to escape his sordid life above an abandoned bar”), time at Genentech, Flash web games for Yahoo! and Shockwave (including a popular game around Ren & Stimpy).
Q: You worked on a 90s video game about cockroaches?
A: A lot of what you do in games is a blend of engineering with art. Engineers are very analytical and artists are the creatives. I love storytelling, and yet I consider myself pretty analytical. I’m the go-between and this works perfectly here at Zazzle.
Q: I hear your life was pretty boring before Zazzle.
A: I came to Zazzle in October 2009. I spent some time consulting for companies (finance and startups).
Q: Give me the 20-second version of your background before Zazzle because Alex took too long telling me about a 90s cockroach video game. Alex calls you “a software start-up jack-of-all trades.”
A: Beta-testing for 3D software packages (early 90s), technical writer for Pulse Entertainment, part-owner in multi-media software company working on 3D architectural modeling and rendering application and NeoPix, a client/server-side graphics system for web graphics delivery. Then, IT consultant and administrator. All of this has given me an underlying understanding of technologies and graphics in web design and web delivery — including UI, fonts and print servers.
Q: What’s something someone would be surprised to learn about you?
A: I have a degree in economics and European Area studies.
Q: I hear you like small things and color.
A: I handle photography and processing of small products on our site — so mugs, trucker hats, buttons, magnets, etc. I also handle all of the color matching and correction of color curves on apparel on our site. On a whole, I help develop and iterate on the visualization process.
Q: Alex says he loves this team — do you share in this love?
A: I love the quality of individuals on this team and the variety and challenges we face every day. Our days are always different. We’re doing work that no one’s ever done before — everyday we have to be creative and innovative.
Q: Give me the 20-second version of your background, using more words in actual English than Brent used.
A: Freelance 3D artist, video game startup — background in concept design, levels design and modeling. MFA with an emphasis in animation and visual effects.
Q: Unlike other members of the team, your background is in illustration?
As a little kid, I was a bit of an art geek. I loved The Ninja Turtles, Disney and Ghostbusters. At first I wanted to get into entertainment. My professors in undergrad were traditional illustrators and they pushed me to come out to the West Coast. I thought I was going to work in film. I got an MFA in animation, digital art and 3D modeling out here. I handle a lot of the more difficult photography shots — usually glass products or where the image has to go through glass (trophies).
Q: What’s the best part about being on the Viz Team?
A: We like to work fast. We all know how to think about products, very quickly and efficiently. It’s part art, part research and development. There’s plenty of experimentation.
Next up, some more members of the Viz Team.