Stewart Smith
Stewart Smith Jamie Kim Interview 1b

Jamie Kim
Stewart Smith

In early 2010 I was interviewed by one-time collaborator, Jamie Kim, about my work as a creative technologist and my approach to creativity in general.

My goodness, 2008 into 2009 was rough. I’d just graduated into a global economic downturn with nearly $100k in student loans. Studios weren’t hiring—particularly as the old bread-and-butter print periodical jobs finally evaporated in the face of the world’s transition to digital consumption. Rent-paying freelance gigs were scarce, but I did manage to snag one with Wieden+Kennedy’s Amsterdam office which needed help on FIFA10’s marketing materials. And that’s how I met Jamie Kim.

I don’t think anyone understood how poor I was at that point. Particularly because I was supposed to be some kind of hot shot. And I was trying to hang with all those talented, beautiful, well-dressed folks who had been working and saving while I had been in school; who still had jobs—some even owning homes! Meanwhile, I had arrived in Amsterdam with about $200 left in my bank account. I had made outrageous demands of Wieden+Kennedy, like trying to get paid half of my agreed fee upfront before any actual work had been completed. (When they told me that payment could easily lag up to 60 days after submitting my invoice, my stomach did backflips.)

Thankfully the gig went well enough and I stayed in touch with Jamie and a few others. A few months later when Jamie joined Creativity Online’s roster of “Creativity and Technology” (CaT) bloggers, she asked if I would be her first subject. “Absolutely, yes!”

As a side note, I’d been obsessed with Rubik’s Cubes when I’d visited Amsterdam to work on FIFA Earth. (This would prove very useful years later when I created the Rubik’s Cube Explorer for Google and met Mr. Ernő Rubik, himself.) Here’s a video of me sitting on the red staircase of W+K Amsterdam solving the cube in about two minutes. Eventually I was able to get my solve time under one minute—but I’m certainly no speed cuber. It was satisfying nonetheless.