Anyone who uses vB or IPB as their forum software of choice will know the name smackLAN. He's been a part of the skinning side of forums for as long as I personally can remember and he's also one of the most approachable people I've ever had the pleasure to be in contact with.
He is the owner of Transverse Styles - one of the premier vB/IPB style sites.
So, would you tell us a little about the man behind the username, smackLAN?
Let's see, I'm 47 (for now), married to the only girl in the world who would have me (and took chocolate as a bribe), father to two amazing young ladies that are growing up entirely too quickly and some say I'm a closet geek but that's not true, I just play one on TV.
Where did you get the name smackLAN from?
Quite the story actually and I really don't know why Hollywood hasn't made a movie about it yet...dolts! Back during my online gaming days I needed a moniker and while I was experimenting with different ones I was also in the process on running a hardwired network in my house (before the days of wireless). I encountered a particularly stubborn wall and after losing my temper proceeded to show it who was boss...hence smack LAN was born (que the golf clap!).
How did you get into designing?
I've always been artistically inclined beginning with my days drawing elaborate murals on the walls of my home with crayons. Combining it with my geekness and love of wasting time seemed to be the logical next step
What is it like owning a site that only deals with styles?
Interesting at times. I never started out planning to have this become a business but when I realized there were people out there stupid enough to actually pay me for my work, I just had to oblige
Your focus is now with IPB styles. How do you find styling and coding for IPB?
I really like it...much more so than any other system I've ever coded for (IPB 3 that is). There are some quirks I haven't quite gotten over yet, but all in all I think it's the easiest system to code for and also has the greatest flexibility for creativity in design too.
Where does the future of vb4.0 lie for you with regards to your business? Can you see it becoming better for stylers?
Sadly it has devastated me...seriously. I cannot spend the time necessary to try and code for it in it's current state and still make a profit...I don't see how any commercial provider can to be honest. So here I sit watching 4.0 pass me by. I will continue to keep an eye on development in the hopes IB gets their act together.
There actually is quite the interesting rant thread going on in the private Alpha tester's forum at vb about this very subject as we speak. Some of the top producers in the business have expressed serious concerns with the stylevars and CSS templates we currently have and some developers have chimed in...so we'll see if that get's us anywhere
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to start a styling business?
If it's not something you love doing, then don't. If it is, a philosophy that has always served me well is always try and give more to your customer's than you expect in return.
As the ex-owner to the popular vbskinworks.com. Are there any regrets in selling your site?
Not at all. The new owner has continued to take good care of the site and customer's (as I knew he would or I would not have sold to him) so it's gratifying to see it still making a positive difference in the forum world. It was an amazing experience for me and one that taught me a lot about myself during the years...so for that, I'm grateful.
Watch out though, I have every intention to grow Transverse Styles to the same level
How do you not go insane having to constantly update templates when software updates?
It comes with the territory. I used to feel as though I had to be the first to get updates done and that put a lot of pressure on. I came to realize it makes much more sense to do it as life allows me time and I found out something interesting along the way...the world doesn't stop spinning if I'm not first :timebomb:
Do you ever feel bogged down or that you cannot handle much more work load from styling?
Not particularly. What I do experience more often than that is designer's block. My creativity needs a break from time to time. I'm finding that when I slow down and not try so hard, I get the inspirations I need when I need them, like in simple lighting and colors I encounter in everyday experiences. It's so much easier to design when you are inspired to do so...and the work will reflect that!
How often do you wake up screaming because of all the horrible nightmares in regards to constant styling?
Not often actually, but when I do it's typically caused by some strange and exotic food item that, at the time, seemed like a good idea to put in my mouth.
Do you have any new projects in the pipeline?
Not at this time, but you never know with me
What does the future hold for smackLAN and Transverse Styles?
Hopefully the economy will turn around this year and people will start spending again. This past year was a "just hang on" kind of year for me and 2010 is really going to be a make or break year...I suspect the same is true for many of the large commercial providers. IB getting their act together on the 4.0 series will play a big part in all of it too.
Would you share something with us that we don't know?
Well, let's see. I'm sure many already know I'm a devout follower of Jesus Christ, but I doubt any of you know that before I became one I spent a good part of my 20's as a homeless drug addict. I won't preach, but needless to say, I didn't get where I am today on my own power
On that note, we come to the end of our interview. I hope everyone enjoys reading it as much as we enjoyed organising it.