Devlounge: Hey Ryan, thanks for sitting down to talk (type) with us, you’ve been pretty requested lately around here. Now let’s get right into it with our usual first question – give a brief introduction to anyone unaware of justwatchthesky and Neubix.
Ryan Sims: No problem. Thanks for the invite. I am a Midwest transplant now living, working and playing in Boston, Massachusetts. My best friend Brad Smith and I co-founded a design studio back in 2001 called Neubix, where we achieved acclaim most notably for our website design projects and our award-winning blog, The Big Noob. In the summer of 2005, we moved from Missouri to Massachusetts to head up design at Unborn Media, the company behind purevolume.com.
DL: How did you get into the field of design?
RS: Mainly through music. Music was always my first love and design was a close second. Throughout high school, I was always designing and drawing things. Whether it was t-shirts for our high school or typefaces while I was taking notes, it was always in my nature to “make things look nice and neat”. Music really served as the biggest catalyst because being in a band presented lots of design projects – album art, stickers, t-shirts, posters and a website. Since our band was dirt poor, we were very DIY and a lot of those projects fell right in my lap. That’s right about the time that I started getting really interested in design and shortly thereafter got hired by Brad for my first design job. Since then, I’ve relied heavily on design community sites like K10K, the FWA, Styleboost and Stylegala, as well as individuals like Eric Jordan, Arnaud Mercier, Dan Cederholm and Shaun Inman to show me what good design can be and to push me to become better at it myself.
Music really served as the biggest catalyst because being in a band presented lots of design projects – album art, stickers, t-shirts, posters and a website. Since our band was dirt poor, we were very DIY and a lot of those projects fell right in my lap.
DL: Neubix was recently responsible for the Purevolume redesign, which really cleaned up the PV design (which wasn’t very bad to begin with). With the latest addition, the cleaned up media player, what do you think about purevolume and the direction it’s heading in?
RS: Well, how do I answer this without sounding completely conceited? Of course, I was thrilled with the opportunity of working on purevolume.com a second time and yes, I am very pleased with the final results. I had designed the previous version of purevolume.com as a freelancer and was basically only responsible for designing the homepage and a mockup of a subpage. This time was much more hands on for me and Brad and it was nice to iron out a lot of design kinks that had been plaguing the site for a couple years. Our biggest triumph was the new player and the functionality of listening to an artist’s music and browsing their shows/blogs/photos pages simultaneously without refreshing the page. It makes for a pretty spectacular and totally uninterrupted listening/browsing experience.
DL: Any future purevolume updates on the horizon, and is Neubix behind Virb as well (If so, mind giving us some inside-information if it’s allowed ;)).
RS: Neubix, as an entity, is really in a state of hiatus right now. When we moved to Boston, Brad and I officially joined the Unborn Media team. Since we’ve been there, we’ve been able to hire 2 more extremely talented designers and big things are definitely on the horizon, the biggest of which is Virb.com. While I can’t give you too much information as to what it’s about, there will be a public beta coming very soon. As far purevolume.com improvements go, we recently launched store.purevolume.com which features apparel designed by myself and the other designers on our team. Providing exclusive content and more videos will be a high priority for PV in the next year. Our next big overhaul should see bands uploading music videos and live footage, not just music. There is a lot of cool stuff brewing in the lab and 2006 should prove to be a very big year for our company.
On the personal front, I can tell you that I will be unveiling a new Justwatchthesky.com by summer’s end. After nearly 2 years of splash-pagedness, I will be trying my hand at a full-blown site again.
DL: Where did the idea for Justwatchthesky come from, and deeming yourself the “Go To Splash Guy”?
RS: As far as the name goes, it comes from one of my favorite songs by Jimmy Eat World called “Just Watch the Fireworks.” I was looking to buy my first domain back in 2000 and thought that “fireworks” was a little too long, so I shortened it to “sky”. Justwatchthesky. The self-proclamation of the “Go-To Splash Guy” is really just a hyperbolic statement. I’m kind of haunted by a bad habit of coming up with ideas and never really seeing them through to completion. In most cases, these ideas mainly manifest themselves in splash pages.
DL: Back on the subject of music, what are some of your favorite bands, both major label and independent?
I’m listening to a lot of Muse right now. They’re definitely one of my favorite bands. Thom Yorke’s “solo” album and Fair, a Tooth & Nail band, are also in heavy rotation. My favorite artists, in no particular order, would have to be Sufjan Stevens, Ryan Adams, Jimmy Eat World, Muse, Radiohead, Jenny Lewis, Death Cab for Cutie, Mae, Pedro the Lion, etc. etc. Check out my Last.fm page for more: http://www.last.fm/user/justwatchthesky
Some of my indie favorites would include Confident Years, David Bazan, The Professional Americans, Elevator Division, Rediscover, Eli Chambers, Jets Under Fire and Nathanael Mehrens, which can all be heard at purevolume.com.
DL: Any other hobbies & interests you wouldn’t mind sharing?
RS: I’ve been playing a lot of tennis lately. There are a couple of really good players at the office who have been helping me improve my game. I also love to read. I’m a sucker for a Dean Koontz book. I’d really love to have more time to read. My biggest hobby, as of late, is video. Brad and I recently bought the same digital video camera and are looking forward to shooting some short films together once Virb.com is live. And I can’t forget the Xbox – I’m still trying to talk my wife into letting me get a 360. We’ll see, though.
DL: Any last words?
RS: Thanks again for the invite. Good luck to Devlounge and your new website!
DL: Thanks for answering some things for us. Keep up the great work for Neubix and PV.
RS: Thanks. I’ll do my best.
We’ll be sure to keep you updated with the happenings on Virb and Purevolume.