Home : Interviews Photoshop : Jeff Spicher
Jeff Spicher, a web designer and developer runs and operates a small web development firm called Coastal Web Innovations. o
Please tell us something about yourself, your background and particularly what made you attracted towards Photoshop?
Well my name is Jeff Spicher, l'm 27 years old and l've been involved with graphic design and web development since the age of 16. I currently live on the West Coast of the United States and run a small web development firm called Coastal Web Innovations. What initially drew me into the graphic design industry was seeing work that others all over the web had done with Photoshop and similar graphic rendering programs and saying "Wow, how did he/she do that?" to myself. To me graphic design is a way to express myself, and truly is a great means of relaxation.
What is so special about Photoshop as compare to other image processing tool?
Wow, great question. Well I started with a program I'm sure most of your readers have heard of called Paint Shop Pro and quickly hit the ceiling of Paint Shop's abilities after a year or so. Meaning; I'd out-grown the functions, filters and features of Paint Shop very quickly. Paint shop is a great "starter" program as it doesn't seem overwhelming to a beginner and finding your way around the software is fairly easy to do. Paint Shop is a great tool to help you learn the basic fundamentals of graphic design, but the overall functions and features pale in comparison to Photoshop. On the contrary to what many devoted Paint Shop users will tell you; there are just some things that can't be replicated with Paint Shop, that Photoshop can do. However, even if this weren't the case; The sheer user-base of Photoshop is reason enough to tip the scales in Photoshop's favor. There are a litany of helpful tutorial and community based sites on the web to help you get your feet wet with Photoshop; whereas there may only 50 or so great sites for other programs such as Paint Shop Pro. That said, it's no wonder that Photoshop is considered the "industry standard" when it comes to graphic design.
What feature of Photoshop you like the most?
Well I don't think there is any single feature that makes Photoshop the numero uno when it comes to graphic design, l feel it's the effective use of all of the available tools and functions in combination. Which is why l can not stress enough the importance of exploring the software, using tools and features to see what they're capable of when trying to become a master of Photoshop. Toy around with everything, find out what each of the tools and settings do.
What kind of feature you want to see in Photoshop?
I know it's foolish to say this and l'm sure l'll end up eating these words one day; but l think it's great just like it is - and l've been happy with the software since Version 7. Though the CS series brought with it a few nifty new toys to play with (mainly the new warp tool); l think the software is pretty solid as-is and your end results are only limited to your imagination. Perhaps the ability to make it easier to create your own filters and plugins would be nice. Recording actions is a great time saver; but it would be nice to have the ability to create your own unique filters and plugins easily without the use of third party software or programming.
Where Photoshop will stand in the near future?
If l had to venture a guess l would say that Adobe is working hard on merging Flash technology into Photoshop/Image Ready to make animating a bit easier and 'net friendly. But who really knows other than the core programming team over at Adobe? You can bet there is a small garage based software company out there working on a software program in hopes they will dethrone Photoshop as the king of graphic design and become the new standard, of course only time will tell.
What kind of ability you feel a person should have to get hand on Photoshop?
Not so much as ability, but a desire to learn. This is what l think is the most important quality someone needs, to excel at Photoshop. Are you trying to learn how to use the program only because you want to make money? Or do you honestly have a passion to learn the skills and techniques that you see used all over the Internet and other media outlets? Do you want to express yourself in the digital medium? I guess a basic artistic background would help, but definitely not required. Hands down, just like any learned skill you've got to be dedicated and truly want it.
Do you feel the formal drawing and painting is necessary for it?
Well personally, when l was younger l used to draw my own comic books and cartoon characters. One might say I'm a classic case of a habitual doodler. But l still stand by my theory above, that a desire to learn is really the only prerequisite for becoming a master of Photoshop.
Do you frequently use third part plug ins? What is your opinion about it?
I currently do not have any plugins installed, however l do own a couple. Like l mentioned above l feel the software is pretty solid as is, as you truly are only limited by your imagination. However in my opinion, using plugins doesn't make you more or less of an artist by any means. If a plugin helps you get from point A to point B easier, or helps you get what is in your head onto the computer screen thats great! For my personal and professional uses of Photoshop l'm yet to find any third party plugins that would make my life as a graphic designer that much easier.
Both of your sites are great piece of work. What is the inspiration behind those sites?
Thank you very much for you kind words. Well as l've mentioned above l'm a web designer and that's what l use Photoshop for. That said, one of the most important aspects of designing a successful web site is to design the layout for your audience. My two sites geared towards Photoshop are populated by a younger crowd of tech savvy users - therefore l wanted to make the designs very intricate and tech-ish. I want my core audience to see the layout and say "wow that's cool" and remember my site; hopefully bookmarking it on the spot. My inspiration came from all different places; looking through many other web sites and designs and picking apart the pieces and aspects that I thought looked great and made an impact.
What kind of advice you will give to a beginner who want to become an expert in Photoshop?
Ahhh, the golden question. Well for starters go out and do every "filter" tutorial you can get your hands on. By "filter" tutorial l mean the tutorials that are primarily made up of various filters and not much else. Though after doing many of these tutorials you'll end up with something that looks cool but is pretty much useless (except for signature and banner backgrounds) but the underlying value in doing these tutorials is that you're learning your way around the software. With each tutorial you do, you'll become more and more comfortable with the tools and utilities that Photoshop has to offer. Once you have a good base and aren't as overwhelmed with Photoshop as someone who has just opened the software for the first time it's time to start exploring the different tools and features. Add your own twist to the filter tutorials, experiment and explore.
Eventually you'll get to the point that you can look at a web page, or Photoshop artwork and figure out how it was done, or at least come up with your own method of re-creating the piece. And this is the next step. Go out and find intricate web designs, or other Photoshop artworks that you feel look great and try to replicate them on your own. As with any learned skill, practice makes perfect and Photoshop is no exception. There is no short-cut or magical 1 hour course that will teach you everything there is to know about Photoshop, it takes time and dedication. Stick with it and don't give up!