Posted at 21 Oct 2015

Interview with Cameron Askin

We spoke to the man behind Cameron's World, a web-nostalgia archive paying homage to the early graphics of the web.

Let’s start with Cameron’s World, which we featured recently. Did this come out of pure web 1.0 nostalgia?

The idea for Cameron’s World was born when I found a Tumblr called 'One Terabyte of Kilobyte Age Photo Op', which automatically generates and posts screenshots of old GeoCities webpages. So it was more of a ‘rediscovery’. I had completely forgotten how interesting some of the layouts and content were. Sure, there’s a lot of madness and downright traumatising design, but there is some absolute gold in there! Soon enough I had a folder full screenshots of hundreds of my favourite GeoCities sites and I knew I wanted to do something with the material. 90s web design has a bad rep. People often dismiss it immediately because they associate it with antiquated technology. I think putting the two in the same corner often means they don’t take into account the whole picture when it comes to design.

Web design is pretty homogenous these days. There’s too much ‘nice’, off-the-shelf design and not enough engaging or innovative work. I blame Squarespace

You also run the graphic design blog A Gang of Buffalo—what’s your selection criteria for this?

I usually pick one image to start and build from there. I look for colours, textures, common threads. It’s mostly about the vibe. I wanted to start a Tumblr and couldn’t decide on a consistent theme. The format of A Gang of Buffalo lets me post whatever I want each week. Art Deco one week, cat photos the next.

How have you found the creative community in Berlin?

If you want to work for a broke artist and be paid in beer, Berlin is a great place! But by the same token, Berlin is still pretty cheap. That allows for a lot more freedom to spend time on projects that are high creative value/low cash and still feed yourself. For example, I don’t think I could have done Cameron’s World whilst living in Wellington or London.

There are a lot of startups in Berlin, if you’re into that sort of thing. However, I’m not seeing a lot of web work coming out of Germany’s advertising industry that has a high budget. That seems to be changing though. This year B-Reel and Stinkdigital both grew their shops. I’ve also noticed a lot of small graphic/digital studios opening up here.

I miss some things about New Zealand—celebrating New Year’s first, living in the future, stuff like that. But here it's easier to work with clients based in the old world.

What do you think is the most overused technique in current web design?

If I was going to design a ‘trendy’ site right now I would set it in Circular type. It would open with a full-screen mood photo with a one-liner. There would be a hamburger button in the top right corner. Then the user would scroll down to a white section with a 2-4 column grid of text and images.

Web design is pretty homogenous these days. There’s too much ‘nice’, off-the-shelf design and not enough engaging or innovative work. I blame Squarespace. Thank god Hover States exists.

What’s your studio set-up?

I previously worked alone, but more recently I’ve started a studio called Stand & Marvel with some of the people I’ve been collaborating with for a while. We work in cafes and working spaces across the city (Agora, Betahaus), which is fun. We’re looking to move into our own space next year.