Dec 06

Author Interview: JeffOakley

Tue, 12/06/2011 - 09:00 — julie

Being multi-talented, rebranding his profile, trying to break into a new marketplace, and having a young family. This week we meet Jeff Oakley (JeffOakley) from ActiveDen, GraphicRiver, and hopefully soon ThemeForest.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from, what do you do for a living?

Hi, I’m Jeff, I’m 32 years old, married to a lovely wife and have a lovely daughter!

I’ve been into Graphic and Web Design for many many years and have a degree in Graphic Design from university. However I don’t actually work in the industry full time, (although I’d love too!).

I work on my Envato files and design work in my spare time, whenever I can. (Although with a young daughter spare time is on the short side!) I love creating things and improving my skills along the way. For me, I design things I enjoy designing and having fun learning new skills.

What inspired you to get into graphic design? (LandonWilson)

I did a degree back from 1997-2000, (so I’m giving away my age here!), and the degree was in Business and Graphic Design. I’d always been into art, and drawing, painting, doodling cartoons, so I grew up wanting to work in a magazine in the art department.

Over my degree I kind of fell out of love with that idea and when I finished I worked part time for a few years before starting in a full time job. I work at a leisure centre as an Operations Manager, so it’s nothing to do with want I wanted to do as a teenager / my early twenties.

However, in the last few years I’ve really tried to get back into design. I love it now, much more than I used to, and still dream one day of freelancing full time… that’d be awesome!

Which marketplaces do you belong to? What types of files do you sell?

ActiveDen, GraphicRiver and I’m currently busy creating a template to sell on ThemeForest.

My most recent files on GraphicRiver have included flyer designs, and graphic GUI designs. I haven’t released anything on ActiveDen for a while now but one of my popular items is the ‘AS3 full screen tiled background‘.

As a seasoned veteran on ActiveDen and GraphicRiver, with over 50 items in total, how hard do you think it will be for you to break the ice on ThemeForest? (KiwiStudio)

Pretty hard. I’m under no illusions as to how difficult it is. I’ve already had a couple of rejections on themes, and although I haven’t given up entirely on them, I’ve moved onto designing my new theme, which I hope to try and have approved shortly.

How did you get started? Have you had any formal training?

I completed my degree back in 2000, way back when Flash was in it’s early stages. However, with the skills I have now I feel I am almost completely self-taught.

Having items on Graphicriver, Activeden and soon Themeforest demonstrates the use of 3 completely different disciplines, something which surely must have taken a long time and dedication to learn. How did you come to learn each of these very different skills? (quickandeasy)

I’m totally self-taught. My degree studies didn’t really teach me anything about graphic design. I honestly feel I’ve learnt everything I can do now, through practice and seeing what I can create. I read tutorials, blogs and generally try and keep active on design communities when I can. I really enjoy learning new things and I think there’s nothing more satisfying in designing stuff you enjoy designing, than having other people look at it and enjoy it too.

I see you’re a big Flash guy. Really amazing work! What’s your feeling on the direction Flash is moving in the last few years? Are you actively trying to adapt your skills into other areas? (JamiGibbs)

I haven’t touched Flash in over a year now. I’ve been so busy trying to learn new things and simply haven’t had the time. I hope to one day soon revisit it, and build some new files in Flash.

Right now I’m concentrating on theme design and learning as much as I can about that. In between my full time job and my family life it’s tough to try and squeeze everything into one day!

Describe your home workspace.

A three year old HP laptop, working with Adobe Design CS3 software. I’d love to upgrade to CS4 or CS5 but the costs prohibit it for me currently. Maybe if I have a sudden surge in sales I’ll think about it, or upgrading the laptop to a better machine, but for me these tools suit me right now.

Describe your creative process. What steps do you normally follow to create your files?

I usually always start with late night thoughts of new files. I mean, when I can’t sleep, and am staring at the ceiling trying to go to sleep, my mind wanders onto ideas for new files…

I’d normally sketch my ideas out onto paper first, thinking about layouts and colours, then crack open Photoshop and start from there. I usually play around with the design and then get to a point where I go completely back to the start again and decide on a different path altogether.

I should really get a better structure going for my early ideas…

I have a sketchbook full of ideas and concepts for new files but at the moment, family time rules over my potential new files being released.

What is your advice to other authors regarding how to create a successful portfolio?

Look for trends in the industry. Be inspired by other designers but don’t copy!

Creating that one magical file which is totally unique and sells in stupid figures is what I’m trying to achieve. Hopefully then I’ll let the sales roll in…

Hi Jeff, how are you? About a year ago, your entire marketplace profile was rebranded. What key factors influenced your decision, and what significant impact, over these last 12 months, would you say it had on your sales and all-around marketing strategy? Any plans for 2012? (Dzinc)

Whoa! – that’s so nice that you remembered me rebranding my identity on here. I used to brand myself as ‘sirjeff’, due to my fascination with King Arthur and medieval stories.

I figured I needed a better brand/look so swapped to my own name. I already owned the domain for my website of my own name, although hadn’t actually used it; so I decided with the rebrand to use a domain of my own name as well.

Since the re-brand, (which I must admit not all my files have been updated with yet), it’s involved me using Twitter a lot more, DeviantArt, and I’ve recently got involved on Dribbble and Forrst a lot more. (Follow me on those communities for any future updates!)

In 2012 I plan to concentrate a lot more on designing and be a bit more serious about it. (That’s if my baby daughter will allow me to spend the time doing it!) ;)

What do you do to market your files?

I’m in the process of updating all my preview images to include my new branding. I’ve used the same style of thumbnail to make my files recognisable. I promote through Twitter, Dribbble, Forrst, and DeviantArt. I try and provide good support to my buyers so that they might come back for new files in the future.

What are your three favorite files, and why do you like them?

Lumos GUI is my most recent file and my favourite at the moment.

Angels & Demons Styles is a file I eally enjoyed creating.

Web Button Creator is one of my favourite files for being easily customisable for the buyer.

Apart from yourself, who is your favorite marketplace author, and why do you like them?

What do you do in your spare time?

Being a dad is the best and I love spending as much spare time as I can with my daughter and wife.

I play basketball for my local team and help coach the team as well. I also snowboard and enjoy tending to my garden and a bit of DIY around the house!

How many licks does it take to get to the centre of a tootsie pop? (LandonWilson)

Don’t know, but my favourite sweets are ‘Haribo Fried Eggs’ – can’t beat them!

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