In our second author interview, we meet Cudazi (Curt Ziegler) from ThemeForest.
Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from, what do you do for a living?
Creating websites has been a part of my life since Geocities was popular and a 14.4 modem was at the top of my birthday list. I’m a full-time web designer and developer in the Fargo/Moorhead area located in the northern United States. I am currently employed full-time managing corporate internet, intranet and sharepoint sites.
The rest of my free time is spent developing themes for ThemeForest and learning anything else I can along the way. Around 2006, I started to sell stock photos, 3D animations, illustrations and Flash files at the major stock agencies until focusing on the Envato network.
Which marketplaces do you belong to? What types of files do you sell?
I actually started out with a few Flash preloaders back in 2008 at FlashDen. Currently, all of my work is at ThemeForest in the WordPress & Site Template categories except for one stray photo I submitted to test the waters at GraphicRiver.
How did you get started? Have you had any formal training?
In college, I received a B.S. in Graphic Communications and a minor in Mass Communications which was a great start down the right path for what I do today. Since then, I have focused on staying sharp by following tutorials and working on numerous personal projects. I don’t like to feel out of the loop on the latest web technology.
Describe your home workspace.
The majority of the work I do is from my laptop so my home workspace is pretty standard, except for an abundance of houseplants. I try to sketch out initial ideas and designs on paper from anywhere that is comfortable.
Describe your creative process. What steps do you normally follow to create your files?
Finding inspiration for the next site is something I don’t force. I keep paper handy and scribble down ideas as they come to me or stick a note in my phone. I try to focus on a site’s ultimate purpose or goal before moving into design or deciding on exact features. The design should complement and never distract from the purpose of the site.
What is your advice to other authors regarding how to create a successful portfolio?
Practice, practice, practice. When things aren’t turning out as you had planned, take what you have learned and move on without becoming frustrated. As you gain experience, you will begin to learn what you do well, what you have a passion for and begin to head down that path. As time passes and you gain confidence, knowledge and experience, expand your skills and style.
What do you do to market your files?
Since ThemeForest is a high traffic site, I keep it pretty basic – being descriptive yet to the point in my item descriptions and sending out announcements on Twitter (@cudazi) when items are added or updated. I have great buyers that send me ideas, suggestions and pass my portfolio around which I deeply appreciate.
What are your three favorite files, and why do you like them?
Studio960 WordPress – I wanted to create something unique and with nearly unlimited layouts while still allowing an option for the more popular slider-styled themes.
Luxury - After receiving emails where clients wanted a more luxurious feeling site, I created a theme that buyers could get this feel out of the box. I also wanted to make things easier by taking advantage of the post thumbnails feature which was just added to WordPress at the time.
Minimal - This theme was actually going to be my own personal portfolio site but shortly after starting I knew it would end up in my ThemeForest portfolio. I love how the inverted pyramid of information leads you from the logo down into the page content.
Apart from yourself, who is your favorite marketplace author, and why do you like them?
There are so many that produce just amazing work and it really forces me to stay on my toes. If I had to pick just one, I would say Brandon (epicera) – he just seems to have so much fun with his designs and work, it’s exciting to see what he comes up with.
What do you do in your spare time?
Spending time outdoors is always high on my list, I recently started playing disc golf. I love to travel, bike, fish and spend time with my wife and our dog.