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Flash Goddess
June, 2002 [updated August, 2002]
photo Jenny Dean
Blu Dot
[FF2002 Finalist Motion Graphics]
Blu Dot
Charlotte Russe
[SXSW 2002 Interactive Finalist Grrrl]
Charlotte Russe
Tarina Tarantino
[UCON2001 People's Choice Award Finalist]
Tarina Tarantino
EyeLuv Cosmetics
EyeLuv Cosmetics

Jenny Dean

  The co-owner and Creative Director of Long Beach, California-based Visualade, 27-year old Jenny Dean is no stranger to world-class design.

From small, interactive flash sites to large-scale dynamically generated content and ecommerce back ends, Jenny has created uniquely fashionable and upscale design solutions for Blu Dot (Flash Forward 2002 San Francisco nominee), Charlotte Russe (SXSW 2002 nominee), Tarina Tarantino (UCON 2001 nominee), South Coast Plaza, Bisou Bisou, Smashbox Cosmetics, Hot Kiss and Glendale Galleria to name a few. Recently, her designs for Blu Dot granted Visualade a Site of the Week on prestigious Communication Arts' designinteract.com.

A graduate of Cal State Fullerton, with a BFA in Art and Graphic Design, Jenny has been designing professionally since 1998 and is not only recognized as a leading producer of high-end interactive design but has since been acknowledged as an outstanding individual designer by such sites as flashgoddess.com, and netdiver.net. She also lends her talent and expertise as a Design Theory moderator at were-here.com.

Jenny's upcoming projects among many include major fall updates for existing clients South Coast Plaza and Charlotte Russe, a new project for Body & Soul Cosmetics' online boutique and a collaborative concept site called Chronographique. And be on the look out for her contribution to Jessica Speigel's New Riders book launching July 2002 "Flash MX Application Design and Development: Thinking Outside the Box."

Favourite site:
I've gotta say Were-Here.com is my favorite site to visit. I'm there every day. (I'm also a moderator in the Design Theory forum there.) But it is such a great resource for news, inspiration, help and assistance, and above all it is a great community. We're Here Forums seems to have more women present than the other Flash forums which hardly have any women at all posting questions.

Why do you think that not very many women post to forums?
Well, I think I am guilty of that generalization as well. I don't often post to any other forums besides We're Here because I haven't found too many other design or Flash related communities that feel as comfortable. For the most part the level of maturity at We're Here is high. The forums are used by a great amount of informative and knowledgeable people. On the other hand, it's also an open and light-hearted community of Flash and design enthusiasts. It's easy to have a good time there. And I think Jessica Speigel and the rest of the Smartbabes at We're Here make it easier for other women -or anyone- to feel comfortable jumping into conversations and posing questions. I've gotten to know some really fabulous people through it.

Favourite artist:
This is tough. I love all modern art. I am really into Chuck Close. His portraits are just so intense. And I love Edward Ruscha's work. Quite a pleasing mix of art and typography. And I love all artist who remind me of the 60's and 70's - flat color, graphic things.

Favourite book:
Anything written or illustrated by Shel Silverstein.

Favorite music:
I love all kinds of music. But what really gets me inspired is some good electronic, or jazz, or something really poppy and fun - like Fantastic Plastic Machine or Takako Minekawa

Where do you find inspiration? I get inspired by seeing something really innovative on the web - like checking out natzke.com or praystation.com, or hearing a really energizing song. Sometimes just a found object will hit me or a color combination.

Right now my hobby is to find time to relax. But when I can, I love studying upon design history. I also like to stare out my 4th floor window and people watch. I'm kind of a collector of things.. Anything that catches my eye graphically, I will keep. Decorating our loft is a great time as well.

What do you like most about Flash?
I see things in motion. I love designing for Flash because it gives me a medium to put things in motion. I think that spawns from dance recitals from childhood and my love of old movies. I love choreography and since I am no longer dancing, I get to choreograph graphics instead.

When and why did you start using Flash?
I originally started out creating things in Director before I got into web design, but let that fall to the wayside. Flash became a major interest about 2 years ago while designing for fashion and cosmetic companies. I think the first flash site I worked on was the original Charlotte Russe site. And Flash became a staple in October of 2000 when we created the intro for Tarina Tarantino.

How or where did you learn your Flash skills (was it in school or were you self taught)?
The only multimedia class I took in school was an old school Director class making games and mazes. Wow, 1999 seems so long ago now. The rest, I guess, has all been self taught or on the job experience. But, I think the biggest emphasis that I put into anything Flash is the design and storyboarding of it. That skill comes from an understanding and practicing music, years of dancing and choreography, and my love of old movies and musicals, and growing up watching MTV. I reach deep into all of those subconscious memories and experiences to draw out the creativity and fluidity that I like to incorporate into all of my work.

Do you feel there is a difference between male and female Flash creations?
Well, from what I've seen online, very generally, flash creations by males tend to seem more masculine and vice versa. In my case, it's project by project. I like to think my more feminine clients get a more feminine design and masculine or non-descript clients don't get an overwhelmingly femme design. And all flash creations done by Visualade come through me and are finished by Jesse.

Do you have any thoughts about where Flash is going or should be going in the future?
I think it's fabulous that Flash MX is pushing us farther into the application development realm. It gives Flash so much more credibility as a tool. I am excited to see what comes of this and have things in the works as we speak. However, I am not ready to lose Flash as a motion graphics or art medium. I think there is a time and place for every use. And I hope we can find a happy medium between solid Flash applications for the web and beautiful art and motion graphics.

What are common Flash design mistakes that you notice?
Well, I am generally really easy to please and I don't find too much out there that I dislike or think is just totally wrong. I understand that there are many levels of flash experience and design out there. But I think my biggest pet peeve - and I amazingly still see this happen on major corporate sites - is this: Jumpy or twitchy photos - caused by animation sequences on top of photos, there is an easy fix to this...

What hardware do you use?
I use Apple all the way. I am die hard Mac user. (specifics: I've got a dual800 G4, 1GBram quicksilver and a spiffy new white ibook) The rest of Visualade, however, uses custom built pc's (specifically: 1.6gHz AMD's in beautiful transparent sided Lian Li aluminum cases).

Do you have any tips, tricks or techniques you would like to share?
I can't emphasize this enough: understand who or what you are working for and what their goals or the project's goals are. Careful and meticulous planning accompanied by appropriate graphics and refined design are what make successful projects for me. I also opt to keep it simple and elegant as well.

Thank you very much Jenny! You're a great inspiration for all of us.