07 April 2009

Interview with Mike Essl & Robb Irrgang from Nerduo

I've really enjoyed watching Mike Essl and Robb Irrgang's memes roll out in the past several months. From the definition of art & design to politics to advertising, no one is immune from their reach. Their blog Nerduo gives creatives some techy help without being too technical.

After some emails back and forth, they were kind enough to let me interview them. Enjoy!

Nerduo Blog

And I’m a PC.

My Friends

Is graphic design art?

Where did the idea for memelibs come about?

MIKE: I was watching TV, as I often do, and just started yelling at the new Microsoft I’m a PC commercials. After a few jokes like “I’m a PC and I have adult acne.” and “I’m a PC and just vomited a little in my mouth.” I realized you could add just about anything and it would be funny. I jumped online that night and IM'd Robb.

ROBB: So Mike messages me and says very little more than "hey, andimapc.com is not taken.".



It kind of snowballed from there. The Microsoft campaign had just started and I think we both knew that the response to it would be… polarized. Mike shared his first "andimapc-isms" and after spitting Diet Coke over my keyboard I knew he was on to something.

How did you "publicize" any new memes?

MIKE: Word of mouth, IM, message boards, and word of Twitter. We purposely avoided using twitter at a “marketing tool.” Just a few posts from each of us was enough to get the word out there. When people overpromote their projects I usually un-follow them, so we were sensitive to that.

ROBB: We don't really use Twitter as promotion in any way; it's more of a soundboard. We twitter our projects because we're psyched about them.

MIKE: On isgraphicdesignart.com we added a link that automatically twitters a link back to the site, and I wish we had launched the other sites with that, as it really helped getting that site out there.

What has the reaction been overall?

ROBB: "Man, you must be making loads with the ads." Okay, not really. But it was part of the response, which is funny considering running ads for a few days didn't make us enough to order two pizzas for delivery. I think, when the submissions started snowballing in, people started noticing how funny some of the submissions were. Oh, and we dropped the ads after a few days.

MIKE: A lot of “What is this?” and a lot of “How many domains do you own?”

Which meme has been the most popular? Any numbers you want to share?

And I'm a PC. We received about 2 million unique visitors according to Google Analytics, and about 20,000 submissions.

Any surprises?

MIKE: Getting as much traffic as we did was a nice surprise as was not getting an overage bill. The dialog around Is graphic design art? was a surprising. Especially all the links on German graphic design blogs.

Anything else I should know?

ROBB: There's more on the way. In fact, the Duo will launch at least 3 sites this year. Let's hope that the meme is not a harsh mistress all the time.

These guys are both amazing designers and coders (as well as really nice guys), here's a bit more information for you.

Having worked on the web since a time where "social" was an offline affair, Robb Irrgang is now the web lead for Wright in Chicago and a continuing contributor to Rick Valicenti's collaborative design studio, Thirst. Since the beginning of his relationship with Thirst in 2003, he has worked with clients such as Motorola, Gilbert Paper and the Lyric Opera of Chicago. His work with Rick has been recognized in Eye, Print, Step into Design and has been exhibited in TDC New York and TDC Tokyo shows.

Robb has been active in various online communities since 1995. He was one of the managing members of the critically acclaimed design community Swanky. Robb combines programmer logic, a business school background and engineering title with a taste for the creative.

Mike Essl is a partner in the award-winning design firm ME/AT which he cofounded in 2007 with Alexander Tochilovsky, a fellow graduate of the Cooper Union and Cranbrook Academy of Art. Essl's clients include Chronicle Books, DC Comics, Intel, Microsoft, MTV, National Geographic, Nickelodeon, Columbia University, Rizzoli, the band They Might Be Giants, and the rapper Warren G. Most recently Essl co-designed Watching the Watchmen with Chip Kidd, launched isgraphicdesignart.com, and is featured in the A&E biography of Mr. T.

Essl has taught at Parsons School of Design, School of the Visual Arts, and is now an assistant professor at the Cooper Union. Essl's work has been recognized in numerous publications and by the AIGA and the Art Directors Club. In 2003 his work with the Chopping Block was featured in the National Design Triennial. From 2006-2008 Essl was the Vice President of AIGA's New York Chapter.

Posted via email from i make experiences.

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