When we first opened Dave Werner’s portfolio site, Okaydave, we were astounded. Not only is it incredibly visually inventive, Werner displays his work (which began as school assignments) alongside short films that explain his design decisions. Did it work? Well, he now works at frog design, so we’d have to say yes. We talked to Dave about Okaydave, his personal site Okay Samurai, and why he’s gonna make a kung-fu Harry Potter movie.
Okay, so since Okay Samurai came first, what is Okay Samurai?
Okay Samurai was the name of a band I played in during high school and college growing up in Virginia, which provided me with a reason to learn how to make a website. When we went our separate ways after college, I held onto the domain and transitioned it into a personal journal/creative outlet called Okay Samurai Multimedia. Its purpose now is to keep in touch with friends and family and occasionally produce new personal projects.
How did you come up with the name?
The samurai part was based out of our shared love for old school kung-fu movies, and it seemed like a decent metaphor for a band. And “okay” is said in pretty much every poorly dubbed Jet Li and Jackie Chan movie at some point.
Where might we have seen your work?
Earlier this year I launched an online portfolio at okaydave.com, which helped open a few doors here and there. So maybe you’ve seen that, or one of the random Okay Samurai videos floating around places like YouTube (most likely the acoustic/loop pedal version of Usher’s “Yeah”).
What inspires you?
I’ve always been inspired the most by people who create worlds (like J.K. Rowling, Walt Disney, Steven Spielberg, Shigeru Miyamoto and John Lasseter, to name a few) instead of flat, one-dimensional products.
Tell us about your portfolio.
Okaydave is the end product after two years’ worth of graduate school at Portfolio Center in Atlanta. When it came time to put a portfolio together, Hank [Richardson] PC’s president, challenged me to present the work in a non-traditional way. The goal was to visualize what my imagination would look like if it was thrown onto a screen. The creation process took about three full months.
Why did you decide to add commentary to your portfolio?
It seemed like the most entertaining, informative way to tell the stories behind the projects. Hopefully the stories make the portfolio seem like more of a narrative experience and less of a thumbnail click-through. I wanted potential employers to see not just a final product, but the thinking and passion during the creative process as well.
Have you gotten a response from any of the companies you did spec pieces for?
Insanely enough, yeah. And instead of filing cease and desist orders, the corporate reaction has been extremely positive. I genuinely like all of the brands that I did spec projects for, so it was nice to get to know them all on a more personal level.
What are you currently working on?
I recently started working for frog design in New York. It’s been a great fit. Gaining real-world experience while working alongside incredibly talented people is a welcome daily challenge. Outside of the office, Cadence of Seasons (an interactive novel project from the portfolio) is still chugging along, as are plans for a couple of new online short films.
Will we be seeing a full-length feature soon?
That does seems like the logical next step. There are a million ideas and stories splashing around in my imagination, and hopefully I’ll be able to translate most of them into reality by the end of my career. Okaydave helped me realize that my greatest passion is storytelling, no matter what the medium. All I know is that if I do ever make a full-length feature, I guarantee there will be a poorly dubbed kung-fu fight in there somewhere.
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