Interviews With Early Web Developers · Elise Marks 3

What this is about:

Elise Marks is creator and sometimes slave of her independent web work, and everyone's favorite zesty weasel. [Editor's note: When we conducted this interview in early June 1999], her mouse was resting comfortably in Kansas City, Missouri; her favorite American city. A background in video and film production made for an easy transition into multimedia design for the Internet, a calling she seems perfectly suited for. Truly a leading-edge developer — her current projects include interactive media integration — Elise also has a fun, quirky persona we know you will enjoy. We invited her to talk to us about improving our web design, and yours; some of the causes launched by the Digital Divas, and making the Internet more of a fun and entertaining experience for everyone.

Jeff ClarkThis is your friendly interviewer, Jeff Clark, as he appeared in 1999. Time changes things.

The Personal Elise

Stone Circle, Cork Ireland [Internet Brothers] Your personal webspace is a very fun and entertaining experience. Certainly your vibrant personality has a lot to do with that, but the Net in general seems to be developing a different attitude from the sex and violence of mainstream television and film. Sure you can find it on the Web too, but it doesn't seem to permeate every production, in fact relatively few. Do you have any thoughts on why that is? It just seems that the Internet is a happy place.

[Elise Marks] i'd never even thought about this before today, and i'm sure there are many reasons for the differences. i think the primary one, though, is that what you find on the internet is published by a wide variety of people. on the web, there can be as many "productions" as there are people, really. with film and most of television, everything gets filtered up (and dumbed down) through the hollywood food chain — and what we eventually see is created by the same teeny handful of eejits over and over and over and over.

also, i think that quite a healthy portion of what we see and read on the net was created by folks who've always had positive contributions to make, but who did not have a voice with which to contribute until they found this particular mode of communication. it's so thrilling, and comforting, to know that the geeks / the nerds / the sensitive and artistic types / the smart kids finally have a mode of expression and communication.

[IB] When Elise isn't talking to software, what do you like to do for enjoyment? Got any hot tunes or books you'd like to recommend to our readers? Where's your favorite place to vacation?

[EM] i read like a maniac. i'll read just about anything... right now, i'm reading defending pornography by nadine strossen and the essential charles barsotti (he's one of my very favourite cartoonists). my recommended reading list would be too long to post here, but some all-time favourites are:

favourite cds from '99:

my favourite holiday spot is cork city in ireland. i'd spend every summer there if i could get away that often. it's a brilliant place. do yourself a favour. pack one bag — jeans, sweaters, socks, unmentionables, comb, toothbrush — and just go. stay at least a month. and if you are a woman, do not respond to the question "have you any irish in you?"

[IB] We are beginning to see a number of outstanding collaborative efforts on the Web these days. Do you have any favorites out there you would perhaps like to do some work with in the future?

“even though i think it's very important to have a wide variety of skills, it's just as important to know one's strengths, embrace them, rely upon them.” — Elise Marks

[EM] well, i love working with pat tomek — he's amazingly talented and creative, and the word "coffeebreak" has taken on an entirely new meaning since we've started working together. hehe. i'm (tentatively) looking forward to a collaboration with faith of hey-you productions; she's bid an exciting job, and if she's awarded, i'll take on just the print side of things. that will be loads of fun as she was one of my biggest inspirations when i first started out. i'd practically sell my soul to work with kimberly warzelhan someday. on something. on anything. she blows me away.

[IB] Where do you see your web design future?

[EMT] i want to move forward and grow — always — as an artist/developer, but i'm pretty happy with my work as it stands. i enjoy the informal partnership i have with largely productions (pat tomek's biz), and i'm very comfortable with the workload i carry right now. i believe i'll always want to continue free-lancing; i'm not interested in building my trademarks into any kind of firm. i'd like to use flash a lot more; i enjoy it so much, but i haven't had too many clients interested in that sort of direction. my greatest worry/fear is always stagnation. in a perfect work environment, every new job i accept would include a groovy new challenge that would require me to learn and implement something i'd never before explored.

oh. and i'd like to come up with a hit cartoon character that would make me filthy rich. i'd play with some concepts/ideas i've had rattling round in my brain (the ones that seem to get put forever on hold due to the paying work!). and i'd have so much more time for learning! i'd paint more, and i would leave myself a little more time for travel — but i can't imagine not working.

even though i think it's very important to have a wide variety of skills, it's just as important to know one's strengths — embrace them — rely upon them. i love exploring — and implementing — new media, and i certainly never want to stop learning. at the end of the day, though, i am an artist. that's what is at my core, and that is the area in which i shine. i'm very happy with that!

[IB] Is the shift key on your keyboard broken? Just wondering.

[EM] NOPE. and i need it... to draw a straight line in photoshop. :p

[IB] Thanks Elise for sharing your insights. We know from experience that anything you undertake is guaranteed to be highly successful.

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