We're introducing a new feature on our newly revamped site. I like to call this our “fireside chats”. It's an opportunity for me to sit down and chat with different people in the industry and see what drives their passions in doing the things they do.
Our first ever interview is with an old friend of mine from a few years back. Matt and I had the pleasure of working together on brainstorming ideas and designs when I was designing ProPhoto templates back in 2011. While I've stopped designing templates, Matt still continues on and is one of the visible and respected designers for ProPhoto. I hope you enjoy our very first sit down chat.
Hi Matt! Thank you so much for taking the time to sit down with me and being one of the very first people I’m doing this with. I think this would be quite interesting to get to know you a little bit more especially since you and I have worked together many, many times in the past. Are you ready? Most of these are quick questions so answer what comes to mind first.
SOMETHING ABOUT YOU: Where are you from? Ruston, Louisiana. We live just outside of Denver Colorado now though.
Can you tell us a little about yourself? Married? Dogs? Cats? A fish perhaps? LOL! I’ve been happily married for 7 years and we have 3 dogs, 2 Chihuahuas and a German Shepard.
What is your occupation?
Graphic designer and I run day to day operations at our company La Lune.
Any favorite movies? Maybe your top three all time? This a tough one. The Harry Potter series is definitely at top, followed closely by John Wick and Man on Fire.
What’s your favorite caffeine fix? I don’t drink coffee, just way more Sprite than I should ever be drinking.
Starbucks or Peet’s Coffee? We both tend to like the more local coffee shops than we do the chain ones. Crystal really loves Caribou Coffee here, but we have a couple of home grown ones back in Louisiana that we love.
What is your one guilty pleasure? Definitely Sprite.
Any favorite foods? What’s the one thing you can’t live without? Chinese food has always been my favorite.
If I ask you what’s on your Spotify playlist right now, what would it be? I’m listening to some new music by Neck Deep, Linkin Park, Goldfinger, and All Time Low. There’s also Yellowcard in there, every single day.
Do you have your own website? Can I share it with everyone here? Lalunecreative.com is our business website where we sell ProPhoto and Showit template designs.
SOMETHING ABOUT WHAT YOU DO: How did you get into designing custom templates for ProPhotoBlogs? Are they still known as ProPhotoBlogs? It’s been a while since I was designing templates for them. Can you believe I designed and sold templates back in 2011? Was it really that long ago? We're old! LOL! We were the first to do custom designs for clients with the original ProPhoto, back before we had back-ends and customization areas when we had to design using html. When ProPhoto 2 came out it had an export feature as a “backup” feature, it wasn’t meant for anything else. But I came up with the idea to export the designs as a whole and sell them as templates using that system. I created a couple as a test product to see if it would work, then I called ProPhoto in 2007 to pitch the idea to them to start exporting designs as templates. I didn’t want to start selling by-products from their software without permission. They ran with the idea and by the time 3 released the feature was built in, and it took off from there.
How long have you been designing for them? One of the first things we got hired to do for them was some social media stuff and some other little things to their website just after 3 came out, then when 4 released we helped do the design for their template shop. We’ve been doing small jobs for them until 2016 when they hired La Lune to do the new ProPhoto website and logo. We’ve been working with them on branding, and design since then.
Can you describe your design style? Based on what I’ve seen from you, it’s very modern and clean. Care to expand? When I first started I didn’t know html or css much, so what we designed was always pretty simple, and even though I didn’t have a ton of knowledge in the area, I knew that what we were designing had to be good even though it was super minimal. Alot has changed since then, but we tend to be known for that style, and we focus on creating more simple designs that can be used for any type of business, than more specifically towards a specific business type. Though we stay in the photography related field with our designs.
Do you ever customize a template for a client? What if I don’t know a thing about WordPress, can you help? We did that for many years. From 2008-2014 we were doing custom design for clients and ultimately we learned that type of business wasn’t for us so we no longer offer custom design services any longer.
When you buy ProPhoto we do offer our support through our own support site, and we’re always around to answer any questions or help, ProPhoto also provides help and support for our designs as well and if it’s just basic questions about WordPress or ProPhoto we can always help or point you to the right direction. Showit has their support built right into the software, so there isn’t a need for us to provide much support for our Showit designs. Showit has you covered.
Where do you get inspiration for your designs? It used to be we were plugged into Pinterest a lot and that helped with inspiration, but lately I spend more time thinking about what works with our current designs and what we can build off of those. That’s why generally most of our designs have similar layouts but different design. I try to inspire myself to create something I would want to use myself more than design for other people or for sales.
I really like your ProPhoto designs. You and I are on the same wavelength. It's so simple and clean yet incredibly complex. For my photography website, I'm currently using one of your designs (Carbon) from 2015 and I love it to this day. This template design we see here, it's awesome!
If you could suggest anything to Jared and the ProPhoto Sites team, what would it be? A lot of what we’ve suggested over the years has made it into ProPhoto at some point or another, we usually bounce ideas back and forth when new releases come about, but these days things get added more quickly by tallying up who wants want, via feedback from support tickets. We have a short list of things we want added like Block/row/column margins, undo/redo buttons, and some others. They’re coming, just in time. The bigger stuff comes first then they can get to the small updates throughout the year.
I’ve seen a photo of your workspace. It’s cool! Care to share it with the rest of the world? Send me a photo and I’ll include it on the blog post. Definitely! My workspace of course tends to be pretty minimal. I like a clean desk, which helps me focus on the tasks I need to complete.
WALKING IN LIPTON'S SHOES: I’ve always been a great fan of James Lipton’s show Inside the Actor’s Studio and I love his questions. Do you think I can ask you the same questions? Sure! Go for it!
Awesome! Let's start then! What is your favorite word? Love
What is your least favorite word? Moist
What turns you on creatively, spiritually, or emotionally? Good minimal design. I walked into our Volvo dealership to get our suv serviced the other day and they had remodeled the place. I geeked out for about an hour about it. It was gorgeous in there! (Speaking of minimal, I actually have seen your Instagram feed. Totally minimal in my opinion. It's awesome! )
What turns you off? Smacking. Just don’t.
What is your favorite curse word? I’ve never really liked to curse that much, but I tend to say frick when I’m frustrated. It somehow got that way because I used to say frickin or the proper word “freaking” a lot when I was younger so I shortened it. Yeah, I’m weird.
What sound or noise do you love? Look up ASMR (no talking) for any kind of sound you love on Youtube. You’ll thank me later when it helps you sleep. Drawing, chalkboard drawing, hair cutting with scissors are all my favorites.
What sound or noise do you hate? Smacking takes the win again for this one.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Engineering Design, Architecture, or Interior Design. (or all 3) If I had to go back to school today though, it would definitely be for programming. I can html and css my way out of a room, but my programming experience isn’t that great, I’ve only picked up bits and pieces over the years.
Hey I went to architecture school! I gotta say, it's not a walk in the park that's for sure. And you don't really earn that much compared to the other fields out there. We're one of the hardest degrees but will little payout. LOL!
What profession would you not like to do? I can’t honestly think of one. I tend to think that the profession you’re in is the one you’re meant to do and if I was doing something else I would try my hardest to be the best that I could be at it.
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? That I did everything I was meant for him to do.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Why do you enjoy what you do? I love what I do in life. When I was little I used to draw all the time, that got me into my first art classes in middle school, then jr high, and onto high school. In 2000 when the computer age and internet was just starting to boom, I knew what I wanted to be. I decided I wanted to be a graphic designer, and that’s exactly what I ended up doing. I also dabbled in lot of creative fields off and on over the years. I was a wedding photographer for 6 years, that was fun. I still shoot portraits for my own personal projects on the side. We’re also working on a new business that I’m not really ready to talk about yet, but it’s one where I get to create and make and build things with a more hands on experience rather than just sitting behind my desk all day. This is in addition to what we’re already doing of course.
This is so awesome! Thank you so much for taking the time to sit down with me and share a little bit of insight about yourself. This is so cool! I definitely enjoyed this and hopefully others will too!
Any final thoughts? Thank you for having me, this has been fun and I really enjoyed it! I had a great time! Now come help me with your latest ProPhoto design. This version P6 is so different than what I'm used to in P5!
Thanks again Matt!
Be sure to check out Matt's Instagram feed and visit him at his website and find out what cool stuff he's got going on for our good friends at ProPhoto. Have you noticed that our new site design uses his newest and just released Booth template design? It's so flexible and easy to use that it took me no time at all to get up to speed with the newest features of ProPhoto 6. Although something tells me that I'll still be calling him about some of these newer features.
And as always, if you have any comments, thoughts, if you would care to like and/or share, please feel free to do so.
Goodnight! – Rikki