Judging an international design competition is no easy task. It takes a special kind of person that is willing to give their time and experience for the betterment of the industry.

It's time to shine a spotlight on these special individuals and dig a little deeper to see what makes them tick. Therefore, on behalf of the CSSDA founders and crew, please enjoy the following interview with one of our esteemed judging panel members.

Time Warp:

1. When and what was your first ever computer? Can you remember the spec?

My first computer was a HP Pavillion, back in 98/99. I got it with an internet starter kit and I remember not using it until months after I bought it, because I wasn’t sure about what Internet was. It was something like a Pentium and a 2 or 3gb hard drive. It's funny to see that the best PC at this time was something like a 6,3gb and Pentium II.

2. When and what was the first website you were involved in designing/developing? Which elements of the project did you do? Can you remember the 'cutting edge' tech used at the time? How did the site turn out and what did this experience teach you?

Back in 2005, I had a band. When the time had come to think about our branding, I naturally get my hands on Photoshop and start designing our first EP artwork, and our website. I remember spending a lot of time cutting letters out of magazines, photocopying them, scanning them, to make a "grunge" design. After that I used Flash to develop it (I learned Flash on the way). I really loved it and had lots of fun. That was my first real web project and what made me start my creative studies.

3. Which project has been most rewarding for you over the course of your career and why?

I have a few projects that have been rewarding in different ways. One of the first projects I made as a digital designer, back in 2007, was the artwork and branding for a band that toured with my band. I received a lot of positive feedback here and there and to me, it was like I was doing something good. I was proud of that at the time, which is the best reward.

Following this, in 2010 I made a website for a local restaurant. We shot every dish that was on the menu to create an interactive menu on the website. This project received a few awards, and for some strange reason was stolen numerous times (some fake agencies tried to sell it as a template).

The last project that was highly rewarding is something we made at Wokine for Decathlon. I designed their recruitment website. At this time, a shop seller at Decathlon was hired for a 6 months mission to drive this project, find partners etc ... After that, he had to return to its initial place at Decathlon. But the project was a real success, so he was hired for a new 6 months period, then was hired as a Digital Project Manager after that. We kept working together 2 years after and everything went well as his role got bigger and bigger. Somehow, it feels like my design helped change his life. What's more rewarding?

4. What career advice would you give to yourself if you could send a 'temporal text' 5 - 10 years into the past?

"Finish what you've started". It could be an advice for my entire life. I had so much stuff that I couldn't finish for many reasons.

5. Better still, if you had your own hot tub time machine, what time period would you travel to and why?

Definitely the 90s. Look at those todays movies and video games, nothing better than a good Home Alone or Sonic of Genesis, wearing Shaq Reebook pumps and collecting Upper Deck NBA cards.

Favourite Things:

1. What are your favourite aspects about working in design?

Being proud. It's the hardest thing to reach, but when you're happy with what you've made, you really feel like the work is done.

2. What are your favourite design tools, sites, fonts and resources right now?

Photoshop & Illustrator, nothing new. I also love to play with those mobile apps such as Faded, VSCO, etc. It helps me finding new tones on my creations. I love the Panda chrome extension that gives me inspiration every time I open a new tab. And for the sites, behance, dribbble, cssdesignawards, siteinspire, abduzeedo and designinspiration are my bests inspiration sites. I love a little website called fontpair.co, it helps me combine matching fonts when I'm not inspired. I also love what ui8 do, very inspiring stuff.

3. What are your favorite devices right now from mobile to desktop?

Desktop, mobile, tablet. But desktop and mobile are not made for the same thing so it's hard to decide.

4. Which 3 cities would be your favorite to open an office in and why?

I don't have cities ideas but where nature, sweet weather and calm meets. I would hate to work in big cities, so Paris, NYC & cie, too much noise and people. Open an office in a big house somewhere in the Vermont would be a good idea basis, or somewhere we could have some great walks outside to get inspired, and a great view on the trees.

5. What is your favorite activity outside of work?

Playing guitar, playing guitar, playing guitar and sometimes playing guitar.

Life Hacks:

1. How do you stay motivated?

The creativity that is around me or that I see everywhere helps me staying motivated. I know a lot of people gets bored and overwhelmed by other brilliant designers, like "oh I could never reach this level". I just transform this feeling to a "wow, let's take something positive out of this and take it to another level".

2. Do you have a good life/work balance? Could it be improved? If so how?

It depends on the period and the projects I'm working on. Sometimes, I have some spare time to focus on other things like music composing, travelling etc... and sometime I just don't have the time to eat for weeks. I don't think it's a good life/work balance, but it works to me.

3. Do you have any career advice for young designers and developers?

I'm also a digital design professor in Lille. The first advice I give to my students when the year starts is: Stay aware of the trends. Being talented deserve more or less work depending on the people, but a great designer could turns into a bad designer if he's outdated, and a bad designer could turns more easily into a good one if he stays focused on the current trends, and knows how to decode them.

4. How do you keep up with the latest trends & tech?

When I have some time, all the websites that I wrote above. When I don't, Panda is my instant dose of inspiration and update on the trends. To me, being up to date is the most important thing for being a good designer.

5. If money was abolished and nobody needed to work anymore, what would you do with your life?

Creating. As far as I can remember I always wanted to create something, for my first Lego Basic to web design or music.

Versus: In your opinion...

1. Are great designers born Vs. made by experience?

I saw really good designer without any experience, and very bad designers with a lot of experience. To me, to be a good designer depends on both.

2. Is the best long term goal to be a founder Vs. freelance Vs. full­time job?

I have a fulltime job and I'm a freelancer. I love to be alone and to work with other creatives. That's paradoxical, but to me it's the great balance as I'm a loner and independent person. To be a founder is a great goal when you're in the thirties, as it's a perfect mix of being alone and work with other creatives. I'm thinking about it.

3. iPhone 6s vs Samsung S6 vs other?

iPhone. I never tested anything else but I don't need to. The Apple universe definitely keeps me inspired, so is my iPhone.

4. Printed book vs eBook?

Printed book. I do believe physical things are more loveable than numeric.

5. Star Trek vs Star Wars?

None. Believe me or not I haven't seen either of these. I didn't see Lord Of The Rings either. I hope I'm not making currently enemies here haha. These may be good films but I'm not into Sci­Fi movies or things.

Thanks for your time. Any last words?

I said it all, I guess ^^ Thanks for the interview.

Mathieu has been the Creative Director of Wokine since 2007 and has 5+ years exp as a freelance designer in web design, graphic design & branding.