Retrofuzz, a quirky name, but aptly titled. It’s the moniker of a megastar web design firm hailing from Manchester, U.K., and they’re making big waves with their innovative and stellar work. From music industry giants Bloc Party, Green Day, and La Roux, to jeans legend Levi’s, even actor Hugh Laurie are all on the roster of Retrofuzz’s patrons. Their work has come to the attention of millions through basic internet searches, and with clients like Lady Gaga, you’re bound to come across one of their pages. Surprisingly enough, they create magic with a staff of only nine, opting instead to maintain intimate and intelligent relationships with their clients. I had the pleasure of contacting the firm in the hopes of an interview, and was given gracious access to cofounder Matt Kendall’s time.
1) how did you get into web design?/was it something you had always wanted to do or did you fall into it?
I personally studied Technical & Information Illustration at Art college in the late 1990′s, just as the web was taking off. By my final year I was that excited by interactive media (CD-ROMs were still very popular) that I spent my time teaching myself and immersing myself in the web as it was then, with all it’s exciting new possibilities.
2) what inspires your creations more, clients demands or personal inspiration?
A combination of both, depending on the job. We’re very lucky in that the majority of our clients are repeat clients, so our processes are very collaborative. Sometimes a client may approach us with a very good, quite advanced idea, which just leaves us to make sure it is implemented as well as possible. Other times the briefs are very very open, and it’s down to us to generate ideas from scratch, and then work with the client to deliver it in a way that gives them the results the desire. Of course, no matter what involvement the client has, we always want any piece of work we deliver to be of the highest quality possible.
3) which designs from your career jump out as those you were most proud of? ie: milestones
A few jump out as milestones – the second Bloc Party site we did for the Silent Alarm campaign gained a lot of attention and opened many doors for us. Being approached by Arctic Monkeys – and from our work with them – Beady Eye and Noel Gallagher made us very proud, given we have always been huge fans of theirs. And of course, Lady Gaga is always one you can guarantee your Mum has heard of.
Other sites I’m proud of for different reasons. The Noah & The Whale Cinema was a great collaboration with a fantastic band and label so was a lot of fun to do. Creating a site for Amon Tobin – whose site for Supermodified once blew my mind as a Junior, was a great honour.
4) how did you attain a harmonious concept, yet also keep something fresh and profound as compared to many websites that are neat and well made yet completely uninspired?
I’m not quite sure I follow this question! However, I think it probably boils down to the fact that from day one we’ve always done this because it’s something we love, and not just because there is a gap in the market for someone like us. I hope our passion for our work shows through?
5) do you remember your first completed web page for a client? Personal? What was the over all idea?
I remember my first personal website – a terribly over-animated portfolio built in Flash 4! I think my first client website was actually for Snoop Dogg, for one of his less accessible videos!
6) who was your first celebrity client? What did it feel like to reach that level of demand in your profession?
Probably Snoop Dogg, as above. This was actually done whilst serving as a Junior Designer at a London Agency.
7) what direction do you see web design going? what influence do you hope to have over it? what innovations would you like to see take off in a big way?
A big question! Difficult to answer briefly, but mobile is obviously a huge growth area. Wether this manifests itself in Apps, or Mobile Specific versions of sites remains to be seen. It all depends on what the purpose is I suppose – some services function just as well as a mobile specific site, whilst some lend themselves more to being an App.
8 ) what do you consider more influential on your growth as an artist, successes or failures?
Both, without a shadow of a doubt!
9) what inspires your work?
This sound like a bit of a cop out – but literally everything! Fashion, film, TV, photography, illustration… anyone who clearly cares about what they produce will always have an influence on me.
10) if you could work for anyone, alive or dead, who would it be? why?
Never meet your Heroes.
11) what advice would you give to someone just starting out in an art related field?
Work hard. Immerse yourself in what you want to do. Do it because you love it. Read Blogs. Visit Museums. Read Books. Influence doesn’t just have to come from the latest ‘what’s hot’ design Blog!
12) giving credit where credit is due, who would you thank most for where you are today?
All the good people we’ve worked with!
Articulate and composed, Matt Kendall represents exactly what Retrofuzz is all about, quality. It’s a wonderfully inescapable trait found on every site they’ve created. There’s sure to be much more coming out of their offices in the years to come, we the internet going public, just have to keep coming back for more.