An interview with John Geoghegan, Senior Multimedia Developer
At JK Design, we help our clients tell their stories using innovative, customized solutions that often incorporate groundbreaking advances in multimedia technology. Finding the right media mix can be the key to getting the message across persuasively.
We rely on our interactive department to keep us up to date with the latest developments—so we can help our clients stay ahead of the curve and out in front of their competition. That’s a big part of what John Geoghegan, our senior multimedia developer, does every day.
In this installment of our ongoing series of employee interviews, we talked to John about his long history with JK Design and how his position, our agency, and digital technology have evolved over the past 15 years.
Omar Joseph (OJ): Tell me about your background and how you connected with JK Design.
John Geoghegan (JG): I have a degree in digital media, which encompasses a wide variety of skill sets. Coming out of school, I was most interested in 3-D animation and modeling, although I enjoyed just about every aspect of digital media I worked with, from writing HTML to doing live video production.
After I graduated, I spoke with an acquaintance who had freelanced at JK Design. I had been interviewing with video game companies, and he suggested I could freelance here while I interviewed. Long story short, I ended up coming aboard in June 1998 and I’ve been here ever since.
OJ: What was your job when you first started here?
JG: That’s a highly loaded question. We were a much smaller company when I first arrived. My job consisted of creating website designs and cutting them up as HTML. Within a few weeks, my responsibilities had expanded considerably: I started doing a lot of Flash animation, IT support, and anything else I could do to fill in the gaps.
OJ: I remember when I started working at JK Design about six years ago, your job was much different than it is now. Can you talk about how your position has evolved over the years?
JG: It’s really been a lot of fun. I’ve had the privilege of being the initial point person, or ‘test dummy,’ for many of the new and exciting technologies and techniques we’ve implemented here for our clients. PHP, Linux, Flash animation, video production, motion graphics … all of them started here with Jerry [Kaulius, JK Design founder and president] asking, ‘Can we do this?’ and me answering, ‘Sure, I can figure it out.’
As each of those became core skills for us, we would bring in people who were experts in those fields and I’d move on to other things. But I always enjoyed bringing in new technologies to JK and watching as they became a big part of our business.
OJ: What are your titles and responsibilities now?
JG: I still hang on to my old title: senior media developer. It’s something of a catch-all, which fits what I do. Additionally, I am the interactive traffic manager. In that role, I make sure we have all the resources in place to execute each interactive project, from website design and development to creating a motion graphics video.
As senior media developer, I’m really a jack-of-all-trades. I work with just about everyone here to fill in the gaps on projects. Sometimes I do production work, sometimes I do project management, sometimes I do research. At other times I do animation or motion graphics. It’s a fun job because it’s different every day.
OJ: Since becoming the interactive traffic manager, what changes have you put in place for the interactive team?
JG: I try to make sure the designers have time to breathe on their projects. Inspiration isn’t something that always happens instantly, and I respect their process and skills. I want them to have the time and the tools to do their best work.
I also try to make sure that they know as much about the project as possible before starting. I check in with everyone on a daily basis to make sure things are progressing as expected, and to see if they need anything.
OJ: In your job, you serve a variety of internal and external customers: account managers, developers, designers, producers, and our clients. How do you manage the needs of all these different people?
JG: In the end, my customer is the client, regardless of what I’m doing. People tend to look at things from only their perspective; in many cases, it’s part of my job to look at it from everybody’s perspective, and try to find a path to making things work for all.
OJ: I’m fascinated by the 3-D work you do! In particular, the work you did for LG’s video project was amazingly lifelike and I know it won multiple awards. What goes into completing a project like that?
JG: That was a fun job. My favorite projects are those where I’m working with the artists and helping them bring their vision to the screen. It can take a long time, but I feel that the results are definitely worth the effort.
In that particular case, I worked with [interactive creative director] Joe Jordan to create the 3-D graphics he needed for the LG video. In some respects, this one was relatively simple for me because it was more photorealistic and less conceptual. So as long as it looked like it might be real, it would work.
[Note: The video features John's animated 3-D model of LG's Network Attached Storage Device. You can watch it on our website.]
OJ: What inspires your work?
JG: I pull in inspiration from all over the place. I love visual media, and I’m always looking for new ideas in TV, movies, or video games.
The artists here also inspire me. They do great work, and they approach projects from very different perspectives. Working with talented people like the ones here has really helped me develop a lot of my weak spots.
OJ: What types of projects do you like to work on and why?
JG: My favorite types of projects tend to be motion graphics projects, because I get to work with some very skilled people, and ad concepts with Jerry and Chuck [Baum, art director]. Jerry and Chuck have a fun sense of design, and it’s a privilege to be a part of those projects.
OJ: What part of your job do you enjoy most?
JG: The people. I work with some great people, and it makes everything more fun. Projects can be great, projects can be crazy, but when you work with people you like being around—they’re a breeze.
OJ: How has working at JK Design helped develop your career?
JG: Working at JK Design has helped me push my skills in directions I never anticipated. We work with a diverse group of clients and every one of them has their own unique needs and aesthetic. The fast-paced nature of our business also forces you to think on your feet, be adaptable, and stay calm even in stressful situations.
OJ: What’s the most challenging part of your job and how do you handle it?
JG: That’s probably the more technical animation projects. Very often, we’re asked to understand and animate fairly complicated medical, scientific, or industrial procedures. It’s my job to understand them well enough that I can create an animation of them.
I do a lot of supplemental research in addition to what our clients explain to me. I’ve always found that a good approach to learning something thoroughly is to learn it from multiple sources and then to do my best to explain it back to the client in my own words.
OJ: You’ve been here for nearly 15 years. What about this place intrigues you?
JG: There’s a lot here that intrigues me, but I’m a person who’s prone to being fascinated by everything. One thing is definitely how much of the feel of the small company I joined 14 years ago still remains, even though we’re much bigger today. I think a lot of that is due to Jerry’s personality. We follow his lead.
OJ: When you’re not at JK Design, what do you enjoy doing?
JG: I’m something of a homebody; I try to spend as much time with my family as I can. I’m an avid reader of just about anything I can get my hands on. I love movies, though I don’t have the opportunity to see many that don’t have cartoon characters in them anymore, since I have a seven-year-old son.
I really enjoy going to my son’s hockey games, and spending that much time at ice rinks has gotten me off the couch and playing hockey as well. When I can, I still try to learn and practice my skills at home. I enjoy creating media, and sometimes it’s just fun to work on things without a client, without any direction, and just see what comes out of it.
Check out some of JK Design’s exciting multimedia work here.