Creative Lives — Developer and designer Jack Wild on managing stress and freelancing at Future Corp
Currently taking a break from full-time work to study for an MA in visual communication at the Royal College of Art, Jack Wild balances his studies with freelance work at Future Corp, alongside an inventive host of interactive self-initiated work. In fact, it was a side project – an app created to help brighten up parties – that helped him land the role in the first place. Initially working as a junior developer in Berlin, an email to Future Corp founder Marc Kremers (who was familiar with the project) saw him move to London after over two years in the German capital. He tells us about his experience of working in London, shares advice on dealing with stress, and explains why you should set yourself realistic goals.
Web Developer and Designer
Developer, Relax, We Are The Good Guys, Berlin (2012–2014)
MA Visual Communication (Experimental Communication) Royal College of Art (2017–2018)
Digital Media Creative, Hyper Island, Stockholm (2011–2012)
BA Television Production, University of Leeds (2008–2011)
As part of Future Corp: The XX, Moncler, Olson Kundig Architects, vvatch.tv
Other: Internet Age Media, Brdr Kruger, OKgrl
Jack Wild at work
How would you describe what you do?
I spend most of my time coding, working with talented designers to create projects where refined design and art direction is key. I have also been involved heavily in application architecture and back-end development of vvatch.tv. More recently I have been focusing on art direction, design and animation, particularly involving interactive 3D environments and other creative web technologies.
What does a typical working day look like?
At the moment, I’m studying an MA full time, while working on the side, so my typical working day is a bit all over the place. In term time I’ll typically spend 2.5 days a week coding – building prototypes, animating and experimenting, 1.5 days a week on concept development, design and art direction, and 1 day a week on external projects, usually with Future Corp and vvatch. Outside of term time, it’s a different story, and I’ll spend a lot of my time with Future Corp and vvatch.
How did you land the job at Future Corp?
I was living in Berlin at the time (3.5 years ago now), and the agency I was working for closed, so I suddenly found myself as an unemployed junior developer in a city where there’s not all that much work at that level. I’d followed Marc’s work for years, so I emailed him on the off chance he wanted to work together. He’d seen a little side project, Boom Boom Boom, I’d used my time of unemployment to make, and invited me over for a couple of weeks, and then I spent three months working remotely from Berlin, before moving to London.
Outside Future Corp
Inside the studio
What do you like about working in London?
I love that the city is full of interesting and talented people to work with and learn from, and there’s lots of work out there. However, as a independent practitioner or small studio, it’s hard not to feel squeezed out by silly rents, endless house-sharing and rampant commercialism. It’s really a huge detriment to the city, as to make great work you need the time to experiment and a relaxed environment.
What has been the most exciting project of the last twelve months?
Well, I have to say that vvatch.tv, which I’ve been working on with Marc and Antonin is pretty awesome. It’s a been a lot more than 12 months though!
What skills are essential to your job?
Organisation, patience, reading, (and coding).
“Don't get too caught up in learning new things only for the sake of it.”
Are you currently working on any self-initiated projects?
Yes! I’m doing a lot of interactive web-based 3D animation at the moment, and getting to grips with shaders. There’s also a new issue of OKgrl coming out soon.
Side project, Boom Boom Boom
How I Got Here
What did you want to be growing up?
I’m not sure exactly, but I never thought of being a developer. I got interested in design and art when I was a teenager, and through that I got into web development.
How (if at all) is the subject you studied useful to your current role?
TV production taught me a lot of organisational and project management skills which I use a lot day-to-day, Hyper Island taught me how to work well with others, and introduced me to web design and development, and my current studies at the RCA are helping me to create work which is more thought-through, while giving me time to experiment and develop my own body of work.
Was there anything in particular that helped you at the start of your career?
Felix at Relax, We Are the Good Guys, who really got me into coding, and Marc of course.
“Keep well organised and plan ahead; be realistic with how much work you can take on and when you can do it.”
What skills have you learnt along the way?
A seemingly endless number of different ways to do the exact same thing in code. The framework, build tool or technique of the day changes all the time. Just find one which works for you and use it until you find it’s no longer doing what you need. Don’t get too caught up in learning new things only for the sake of it.
What’s been your biggest challenge?
Stress has been quite a big one for me at certain points. I really hate to under-deliver or disappoint, so if I feel I have to rush or cut corners it makes me really panic. The idea that it’s all your fault if you’re feeling stressed from a heavy work load and lots of pressure isn’t very helpful. The best advice I can give is to keep well organised and plan ahead; be realistic with how much work you can take on and when you can do it. Try not to work more than 8 hours a day (genuinely fun personal projects and experiments don’t count as work in this sense, but try not to make them fill up all your free time either. If you don’t have time to cook a proper dinner every evening, you’re too busy!).
Work for Okgrl
Work for Okgrl
What would you like to do next?
Develop my own practice further, focused on creative web technology and design. Launch vvatch.tv. Get my own flat.
What advice would you give to a young creative wanting to get into the same line of work?
There’s some great online courses for learning to code – I hear SuperHi is great these days. Take small steps, if you set your ambitions too far ahead, you’ll get discouraged. Don’t force yourself to work on side-projects if you really aren’t in the mood, or you’ll end up resenting it. Don’t entertain unpaid internships. Don’t get caught up in the myth that work is only valuable if it sells someone something, nor is all commercial work evil. Find a mentor who’s work you really like reach out to them, and listen to their advice (you don’t have to follow it).
Inside the studio