The annual South By Southwest Interactive Festival, held each year in Austin, Texas, brings together some of the most innovative filmmakers, musicians, and digital innovators to share ideas and chart the future of interactive media. In addition to the festival’s featured speakers and performances, an awards gala honours designers whose products have pushed the boundaries of online creativity over the last year.
At this year’s March festival, VFS Digital Design student Mark Miller received the award for best student work. In addition to the South By Southwest award, Miller also recently won Best Canadian Student from the prestigious Flash in the Can Awards.
Miller was rewarded for creating the interactive web log stretchdaily.com, which documents his creative process as he integrates diverse design ideas into his work. The eccentric collection of photos, short films, sculptures, and quotes is updated daily as Miller experiments and shares ideas with the site’s users.
More Than Your Average Blog
Stretchdaily, which was reviewed recently by Yahoo!, also offers an imaginative spin on the typical blogging experience by inviting the viewer to participate in Miller’s creative process. As you delve deeper into the site, Miller’s theme of searching for creative solutions to artistic obstacles comes across very clearly. ‘Stretch shows my lifestyle, but also works like a personal portfolio,’ Miller says. ‘People can see what I can do, but also get a sense of who I am.’
Currently in his fourth term of Digital Design at VFS, Miller credits the program’s classes in design theory and creative branding for giving him the skills and breadth of knowledge to continue developing the web site. ‘Before I came to VFS I knew how to do quite a bit with the web, but working in this artistic space and meeting all of the people here helped me expand my creative side,’ says Miller.
Rewarded for Innovation
By showcasing various designs created with programs like Flash and Photoshop , users can watch Miller’s ideas evolve as he makes his way through the Digital Design program. ‘Winning the South By Southwest student competition is a great achievement for Mark,’ says Stephen Webster, Head of Digital Design. ‘ It is great to see innovative work being rewarded.’
To receive his award, Miller traveled to Texas , where he met with many of the festival’s participants and keynote speakers. The four day festival assembles developers and designers for a host of panel discussions, trade shows, exhibitions, competitions, and awards. Being in this bustling environment offered Miller a chance to speak with potential employers and business partners. ‘The award itself is nice because of the recognition, but I really benefited from meeting people and networking at the festival,’ says Miller.