Pim van Helten
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.
Pim was raised on a farm in a small village in the Netherlands. "I loved working on the farm, but my mom sent me to school, bought me a computer and let me play with MS-DOS. Studied Business Administration. Ten years ago, I joined my college friends and started dpdk. Today I'm the CEO and working on creative strategy for clients and the daily management of the agency."
1. When and what was your first ever computer? Can you remember the spec?
My first PC in 1995 that was connected to the internet was a Targa with a 120 MHz processor and 8MB EDO RAM. She had a Hercules videocard Terminator 1mb DRAM. It was not very much, but I did some serious surfing! My mother was so done with the extra phone charges that she took the modem in her purse when she went away from home.
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 the days when I was in high school, I developed an idea for Valentine's Day; it was a flashy website where you could post an anonymous message for someone else. For a week long I had the whole school refreshing the webpage. That was the moment when I knew my future was on the web. I built this website with Dreamweaver. The website also had some Flash animations on it, developed by a friend of me. This combination turned out to be the basis of dpdk.
3. Which project has been most rewarding for you over the course of your career and why?
I developed more then 2000 digital products over the last 10 years. In each of them was a lesson so I appreciate them all. What I especially appreciate in a project is this special vibe throughout the team; when everyone is on the same page about the idea and is exited to produce something really remarkable. You really feel that everything fall into place then and that quality is in the making. Each project, big or small, has this potential in itself.
4. What career advice would you give to yourself if you could send a 'temporal text' 5 - 10 years into the past?
Hire for passion.
5. Better still, if you had your own hot tub time machine, what time period would you travel to and why?
I'm not really the kind of guy that likes time-travelling. I'm more of the here and now; our current time. But if I have to choose then I would travel to the pre-mobile era. I would like to taste the peace and simplicity of life again. For one hour only.
1. What are your favourite aspects about working in design?
What I really like is that today you can find something really really nice, that you can love something very much. While next year you think 'mmmwoah'.
2. What are your favourite design tools, sites, fonts and resources right now?
I do not really have specific resources that I constantly make use of. Inspiration is everywhere around you.
3. What are your favorite devices right now from mobile to desktop?
This summer I've lost both my MacBook and iPhone and I noticed that I missed my iPhone more than my laptop. While I can really hate my phone sometimes. A strange relationship.
4. Which 3 cities would be your favorite to open an office in and why?
- 1. New York, the city that is always on.
- 2. Somewhere on the West Coast. Great vibe and lots of cool digital agencies.
- 3. Lausanne. Switzerland is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. I love old towns, mountains and water. Lausanne has it all. A beer in the sun at Lake Geneva as life is meant.
5. What is your favorite activity outside of work?
I often take my MTB and go for a ride in the forrest or the dunes. I like sporting challenges, so I go to the mountains once in a while to clear the mind and train my body.
1. How do you stay motivated?
I have no problems to motivate myself. I love to create beautiful things with fun people and I have passionate and motivated colleagues. So go to my work feels like coming home.
2. Do you have a good life/work balance? Could it be improved? If so how?
I think that every entrepreneur has his own difficulties with balancing work with 'life'. You need to work on that every day, pay attention to both 'lives' every day.
3. Do you have any career advice for young designers and developers?
In our profession, everyone is now a digital native, so make sure you excel somewhere. Whether it's in strategy, technology or UX; believe in yourself and go with your passions. Team up with other passionate people and try to make something remarkable.
4. How do you keep up with the latest trends & tech?
Keep your eyes open and research as much as possible. There's a lot going on these days, so it takes time to determine what is interesting and what is not.
5. If money was abolished and nobody needed to work anymore, what would you do with your life?
I would still ride on a John Deere, mowing my meadow and feeding my cows.
Versus: In your opinion...
1. Are great designers born Vs. made by experience?
Both. You should have an eye for detail and have a talent for beauty. But repetition is the mother of all skills, so with a lot of experience you can get very far.
2. Is the best long term goal to be a founder Vs. freelance Vs. fulltime job?
I'm one of the co-founders of dpdk, so a full time job does not apply to me. I will never be freelance I think, I love it too much to build things.
3. iPhone 6s vs Samsung S6 vs other?
I love my iPhone thanks to its solidity; I can always rely on him. But I notice that I'm impressed by Android and that it will not be long before I switch I think...
4. Printed book vs eBook?
I still read the printed newspaper in my weekend. Ebooks aren't really my thing.
5. Star Trek vs Star Wars?
Neither! Time for something new.
Thanks for your time. Any last words?
Everything you want is on the other side of fear.
Pim is CEO of award-winning digital agency dpdk and has over 10+ years experience in creative strategy & digital production.