In Khadgar we Trust!
By Espen André ØverdahlEspenAO. Friday, March 30, 2007 7:43:16 AM
He has spent countless hours redesgning his blog, and just after releasing his new stylesheet we did an interview with him. It's now complete, and you can read it here.
This interview is about a young man who has impressed a lot of My Opera members with his down-to-earth attitude and awesome design skills. His newest creation is a complete redesign of his blog (a total of 1040 lines of CSS code has been written so far!!). We had a great time creating this interview, and we hope you will enjoy it!
Could you tell us a bit about yourself for new readers?
I hail from West Monroe, Louisiana; my name is Dustin Wilson; and I am 23 years old. I work at a local screen printer that's fairly big (at least now) and ships all over the United States, but the business is mostly local. I graduated from Louisiana Tech a couple of years ago and haven't moved because of my father's health decline (someone has to take care of 'em).
Of all things I do I enjoy drawing the most. I can do it all day at work and be sick of whatever I was working on there, come home, and still draw again. It's odd, but I'd rather be that way if it is . To satisfy that urge I do an online manga called Dark Phantasy while another My Opera member writes it for me. I don't have very many readers because I update when I get the time. It's about the fun aspect of doing it.
I enjoy designing, especially doing information design and I'm quite proficient in HTML, CSS, and PHP. I don't like looking at something without knowing how it ticks, so naturally I learned the three languages I mentioned. Lastly I like to read and play games, especially RPGs and Nintendo ones.
My nickname is from a hero in Warcraft II. Many people playing the new World of Warcraft expansion will be able to see ol' Khadgar (it's a dwarven name, and means "Trust") in Outland. I'm not as big a fan as I used to be. The nickname has stuck, so I use it everywhere.
Are you in a relationship?
Nope. Is there anyone out there crazy enough for me?
What's your current work status?
As I said I work for a screen printer in West Monroe, Louisiana. It's called the Shirt Shack, and I think the name was chosen well. It's an odd place to work, really. The business is owned by my brother. I started working there after I finished high school, and was full time throughout college... at least it felt like a full time job. Before that I built trophies for my father's awards company. My sister now runs that, but sometimes I think that's a lifetime job in of itself. I help her out whenever I can. My family's close.
How important is work for you?
Very important. As I plan on doing freelance work I'm still going to work at Shirt Shack to have at least some stable income. I'm a workaholic. I feel like if I'm not working on something I'll die. That's what happens to most people who retire. The body gives up, right? I know I'm only 23, but I have to enjoy life as I enjoy it, right?
Are you a freelancer - and do you currently take on new assignments (got contact details )?
I'm not really a freelancer at the moment, but I hope to be in the near future. I don't think I'll provide contact details yet, but if someone's interested they can always e-mail me or private message me through My Opera.
When did you first evolve an interest in graphics and design?
Wow... let's see... the day I was born? I really don't know exactly when, but I've been drawing since I was a toddler. My sister's a graphic artist as well and is seven years my senior, so when I was a kid I was jealous of her abilities. That's what my parents say got me started. I don't really remember. They say the same thing about reading. I could read fairly well when I was two, and that started with a jealousy towards my sister. I guess as a consequence I enjoy drawing and reading.
I didn't really get interested in design as a whole until I was in college. I took graphic design because the university didn't have an illustration major, but as a graphic design major you had to take a few illustration classes. You even had classes where you had freedom to do what you wanted, no schedules, nothing. I'd mostly do illustrations when taking those classes. Information design sort of stuck with me, and having learned how to do websites before college out of a necessity to "know how the web works" just made my interest in it soar. Louisiana Tech has a great graphic design program. They're ranked nationally even with being a state funded university, and I feel so blessed to have gone through that program. I don't think there's a professor there I won't be friends with for life. It was an amazing experience, and I urge anyone interested in design to please go to college. In graphic design it's all about your portfolio and not the degree. You have to suck up all the knowledge you can. You might as well do it among a lot of friends who share your interests.
Do you have any websites you've designed to show-off?
Just one, and two soon when I get done with the other one. I learned mostly in doing my own websites. Jeff, the same guy who writes for my online comic book has learned HTML, CSS, and PHP. We collaborate a lot and learn from each other. It's helped a lot. I hope to do more in the future, though.
How important is web standards for you (and your work)?
About as important as water is for life. Without standards we'd be back in the stone ages. I'm very anal when it comes to web standards. I despise Internet Explorer because of this. Even now with version 7 they're unable to make a browser that supports today's web standards. While they're struggling to do yesterday's standards Opera's doing tomorrow's with CSS3.
And how does Opera fit into this?
Opera's always been a big player in web standards as far as I can remember. Before I even used the browser I knew about many of the key people there most notably Håkon Wium Lie and Jon S. von Tetzchner. Håkon Wium Lie invented in my opinion the next best thing to HTML itself, CSS. If that doesn't show Opera's big on web standards I don't know what is.
Should people use Opera to test web design?
Most definitely! I test everything in Opera first, then Safari, then Camino. Lastly I open up Internet Explorer 7 and 6 in Parallels if I need to. I avoid those two like I do the plague a lot of times, but since Internet Explorer is the number one browser out there on many websites I can't just not make websites for it. Lately I've tried to drop support for IE6 as it's been replaced. I do understand some won't switch for quite some time, so I still keep it around.
Opera's the best browser out there in my opinion. I do my designs a lot of times to the standards themselves, and I hate it when I experience something that's wrong in Firefox when it generally will work in Opera and Safari. A lot of people out there use Firefox for their primary development browser. When it can't even pass the Acid2 test, why? In my opinion you should test websites using browsers starting from the most conformant (Opera) to the least (IE6). That way you know absolutely something is a bug if you experienced something. I pick up on bugs all the time, and I am very vocal about ones in Opera as it's the browser I care about most .
Where do you find inspiration?
I don't really go out looking for inspiration, but I'll get inspired about any and every little thing. That applies to everything I do. I'll go all day long with some design in the back of my head, and I'll see something and think that would be a great thing to incorporate or use in the design. That's mostly how I work. I know a lot of people actively go out and look for inspiration. I let it find me. When it slaps me in the face I know it's what I'm going to do.
What do you think is the the most important thing about (web) design?
To convey information. That's the major purpose of a website. No matter what you're doing you're trying to show off some sort of information to someone be it a photo gallery, a thesis on the universe, or trying to sell some product. I think web design plays the part of trying to make the information as easily grabbed as possible or to make it more pleasing. If the web didn't have design we'd have a quagmire of websites that looked all the same and a web that isn't what it is today, a major part of our lives.
What seperates good- from bad design?
Do you have some basic principles you want to share?
It's all in the eye of the beholder in my opinion, but if you go by what most people expect it all comes down to the most elementary of principles in design. Good design has to have proportional scale with symmetry (or a lack of... sometimes that works) and movement. The design has to have emphasis on what's most important and convey it with variety using contrast and unifying the design even when there's variety within it. That's a very technical way to put it, but if you apply that to websites for instance there has to be an initial scale of the website and it has to fit within a certain designated screen size (or resize to fit any screen size). The viewer's eyes have to be able move through the page effectively. That means that the page has to have emphasis on the most important parts of the site and have variety and contrast. If not the viewer can get lost or confused. Lastly the site has to be unified across every page. If the interface changes for every page the viewer is going to get confused easily and leave the site. Nothing is perfect, but we can try . Design isn't just making stuff pretty. It's making stuff work. It's problem solving at its base core.
What would you say distuingish My Opera from other community sites?
The people. That's about the best way to describe it. Opera cares a lot about its users. Why else would you and everyone else work so hard for the community? I was leary of it at first. I've been a member since 2003 and have used Opera since 7.0 was released, and just within the past year and a half I've started contributing any way I can. I think that's what it's like with most people here. They try and contribute whenever or whatever they can. My Opera is a community built by its users, not dictated by its owners like other communities are. There's no ads (except for Opera ) and people appreciate that.
Are you active in any groups?
What's your favorite blog?
What's your favorite photo album?
I don't know if I really have one, but I really enjoy Dudley's.
What's your favorite feature?
Customization of your Opera page I guess. My Opera allows a heck of a lot more than anywhere else. I really enjoyed doing mine. My favorite new feature oddly enough is the recent visitors sidebar. I love seeing who's visited my page. I frequently go visit theirs to see what they're all about.
What things on My Opera do you think needs improvement?
The text to HTML converter used in the blog comments and forums is probably the biggest problem I see. It inserts line breaks when it should be doing paragraphs most of the time. I'd rather see Markdown used instead of BBCode or at least the whitespace rules that are used in Markdown. Many people are too familiar with BBCode, so no way My Opera can get rid of it. That would improve things a lot. My Opera validates just fine, but a lot of times comments makes pages invalid because of the converter.
Can we expect any more (blog) designs from you in the future?
I do stuff all the time, so I'm sure you'll see designs from me. I'm making an entirely custom icon set for my Opera skin, so I guess that's the next Opera related thing you'll probably see from me. Blog designs? I really hope so. I really enjoyed making my blog's stylesheet. I still have some stuff to fix, though .
What's your favorite video game?
Right now it would have to be Final Fantasy XII. Sorry, enplussers. Of all time? Final Fantasy VI (it was on SNES, so don't boo!). I'm a big Final Fantasy fan. I'm sure when Super Mario Galaxy comes out this will change, though. Most definitely.
What's your favorite movie/genre?
My favorite movies are the original Star Wars movies. Can't beat what you grew up watching now can you? I don't much care for the prequels. The third was alright. First one out of the bunch that felt like a Star Wars movie to me anyway.
What's your favorite book/author?
My favorite author would have to be J.K. Rowling. She's done a lot to get kids reading again, and the Harry Potter books are phenomenal. My favorite authors are oddly all British, though: J.R.R. Tolkien, Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, and J.K. Rowling.
What's the craziest thing you've ever done?
Let's see... replacing the air canisters in all of the old water fountains in my elementary school with shaving cream. Dunno if it's crazy enough, but it sure was fun.
What's your favorite music?
I like a lot of old rock, and like much of what Nickelback puts out now. Other than that it's usually J-Rock for me. Jeff got me interested in it, and it's stuck. Can't understand what they're singing about but it sounds good anyway .
What's your favorite food/drink?
My favorite food is probably medium sirloin steak. I'm not a carnivore. I eat just about anything, but that would have to be my favorite. Consequently my weakness is peanut butter. I can eat an entire jar without stopping, so I don't buy it. I don't drink alcohol, so my favorite drink is fountain Coca-Cola. I drink Diet Coke all the time, but sometimes I sneak me some Coca-Cola. I'm Southern, afterall.
How many hours a day do you spend in front of a computer?
Too much. Figuring it out I'd say fifteen is about average. I make my money with computers and my hobbies involves computers. As a result I am overweight, but I work out now so hopefully I can shed the pounds. The Wii's helped a lot, too .
What OS do you use?
Mac OS X. I'm a big supporter of Mac Opera and make Entr'Acte which is a skin many call the definitive Mac skin (so I've heard). I've always had a love for UNIX because the command prompt is so powerful. I've loved the Mac for years because of ease of use, so when both were merged together I was as giddy as a schoolgirl. My main computer was Windows-based up until September of last year, though. I bought a Mac Pro after a couple of years of scheming. Best thing I ever bought in my life (other than Opera! I paid for it way back when!).
I read on your about section that you design t-shirts. I'm sure there are many community members who would love to get their hands on one of your creations. Is there anywhere we can order it?
We do bulk printing. People come in and order what they want and I do it. As a result most of what I do at work wouldn't fall into the category of design, but there's some jobs here and there that I really enjoy. Perhaps I should make an Opera photo album of my favorites one day...
And last, but not least, will you participate in the upcoming CSS design contest here on My Opera?
If I have time, sure!
Any (famous) last words?
Well, I'm not famous, but if you want some famous words I've always liked this quote from Douglas Adams:
[The World Wide Web is] the only thing I know of whose shortened form -- www -- takes three times longer to say than what it's short for.
Being a web freak I laugh every time I read that because it's so true.