Troubadors, traveling, Flash and Logic Pro. Our sister site AudioJungle is a royalty-free stock audio site that helps musicians earn money. In this interview series you’ll learn about those musicians, their gear, and their AudioJungle experiences. Today we meet Christian Kragh (ChristianKragh).
Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from, what do you do for a living?
Hi, my name is Christian Kragh and I'm a freelance Flash developer/designer. I'm also a musician and writer on the side.
Where I'm from is a complicated story and it's the reason why I'm currently a traveling little troubadour but I'll try to keep it quick: born in Denmark, moved to Rochester, NY immediately, 3 years later moved to Berlin, Germany, 3 years later moved back to Rochester, NY, 7 years later moved to Antwerp, Belgium, 5 years later I left home and moved to Copenhagen, Denmark, 1 year later moved close to Birmingham, England, 1 year later I spent half a year in Sydney, Australia and the past year I've spent traveling around, mostly between Rochester, NY and Denmark but also Germany, France, England and other US states.
Most people ask me if I'm an army child but no, my father moved a lot working for Bausch and Lomb. I guess it was just inset by the time I left home because I found myself moving a lot without really planning for it.
Which marketplaces do you belong to? What types of files do you sell?
I belong to ActiveDen since July 2008, and joined AudioJungle in December 2009 but only recently been more active on it. I also have one file on GraphicRiver but won't usually upload to it.
On ActiveDen, I sell AS3 files, I'd say mostly unique image viewers. I currently have 4 site templates, 13 galleries, 15 image rotators/banners/slideshows, 23 menus but a lot of these menus involve image viewers as well, then a few utilities and other files like news readers, video players, music players, maps, intros, etc, and finally I have recently uploaded 3 games. I'm currently working on a full site template with deep linking. I plan to concentrate much more on full site templates as well as games every now and again.
On AudioJungle I currently have over 35 music loops. I also have a sound effects pack with 25 interface and games sounds. My main music categories are rock, piano based and electronic music and a lot of the time I will combine them. I come from a very rock-based music background and I've only recently gotten into creating electronic/digital music. I do a lot of rock and metal work outside of AudioJungle but I create a lot of really soft rock, ambient guitar rock and upbeat indie type rock material for AudioJungle. I really like creating soft and slow piano pieces. I think I'm also very experimental sometimes in my music creation.
How did you get started? Have you had any formal training?
I got started back in high school in Belgium. I think it was in 9th or 10th grade when I took a web development elective type of course. It was mostly HTML, PHP and then some Flash (MX) but I was only interested in Flash. I was genuinely interested so I got into sites like the FWA and admired tons of cool Flash sites and wanted to create cool websites, too. I also was interested in making fun Flash games. I think I might have created my own little site which was basically a small collection of basic Flash games.
But then my Flash activity faded a bit in the last two years of high school because I took a higher level Fine Arts course which was flexible so I did almost all digital artwork, mostly mixed media photo-manipulations but I was quite concentrated on it. But before I moved to Copenhagen I set up my own website portfolio and started roaming the internet for jobs.
The first few came very slowly and for almost no money but they helped me establish more of a name and a portfolio. In the next year, I had more and more clients and my prices slowly climbed until I reached a comfortable position and presence in the industry. Then I discovered Envato… :P What was the other question? Oh yeah, so in conclusion, no, no formal training, just another self taught Flasher. :)
Describe your home workspace.
Well, I travel a lot but I work well when I stay in my parents' summerhouse in Denmark. It's very tranquil and desolate, usually alone so I can really concentrate on whatever I want. I really enjoy working and having water to look out on and a beach I can take a quick walk on when I need a break.
But my workspace generally consists of my MacBook Pro, Flash CS3 (and Photoshop, etc), Logic Pro, my guitars (a Squier Strat, a Schecter Damien Elite 7 string and a Tanglewood acoustic). The actual "space" is anywhere. :P
Describe your creative process. What steps do you normally follow to create your files?
Honestly I don't really have steps… I definitely have a creative process and it varies a lot. For Flash work, I won't plan or make an outline if it's just a small job or a small file I'm creating. If it's bigger like a site project, I'll usually write up a outline or site map kind of plan. If it's something I haven't done before, like a new unique gallery or game, I'll sketch it out with pencil and paper and sometimes even write some pseudo code.
But mostly important for me is I'll always take some time just to visualize it in my head. Also, usually when I create a new Flash project, I copy and paste some blank files and folders into a new project folder like the Tweener Class, a new empty Class AS file, an empty Flash file, an empty XML file and so forth. For audio production, I just play my guitars and come up with something or if I need music for a site or a game, I'll just jump right into Logic and start creating.
What is your advice to other authors regarding how to create a successful portfolio?
Oh man, if we're talking about ActiveDen portfolios, ask digitalscience, chuckanucka or webmarbles or some of the other great Flashers we got here. But really it is clear to see these guys are on the top for a reason, consistency in great files, branding, look and feel is very important here.
To start, just make really good files and definitely make sure they look good. It's one of those sad but true facts but a fact nonetheless, a really good looking file that doesn't actually have that much else going for it will probably sell more than an okay-looking file that has a lot of customization and great features in it. That's of course debatable but I've definitely taken notice and plan to spend more time on how good the file and preview looks in the future.
But with branding, you'll notice all of these authors use the same or a set array of colors in their file thumbnails, previews and so forth, as well as your logo or stamp or icon on a corner or border of your file thumbnails. There are a whole lot of factors that go into being successful on the marketplaces but I think Envato actually helps authors a lot to inform them of things they can do and advice on it.
What do you do to market your files?
My online portfolio links to ActiveDen, my blog has links to it as well as related blog posts, I use Twitter when a new file is online and I also have links on Adobe Exchange and HotScripts. I also try to create useful collections on the marketplaces and try to participate in the Envato forums and blog when I can - maybe that's not marketing my files really but I'd like to be involved in the Envato community nonetheless. :)
What are your three favorite files, and why do you like them?
Man, that's a really tough one. I definitely have a few favorite authors that have some amazing files.
Webmarbles doesn't have many, but they all look so good, his branding has successfully sucked me in haha.
I'm impressed by bitfade's work. I was actually really impressed with the file 'Rabbit Beer Poker'—not so much for the gameplay but more for how it was all done, how it looks and feels, the animations and it's just really fun to play just because of that.
I also really liked the Cave Run game that was featured - you can tell there was a lot of effort put into that as well and it looks really great - but I'm gonna have to go with Webmarbles' 'Designer's Portfolio' file for my other choice. What can I say, it's beautiful. :P
For my third file I'll pick one from AudioJungle. Soundroll is a great author on AudioJungle and deserves to be on the top and I love gregwalker's stuff, some really good acoustic guitar stuff there. But I think my favorite track so far (especially for a website) is solidbeats' 'aqua' track - I bought it and used it on my portfolio site I liked it so much; I really like soft ambient type stuff...
Apart from yourself, who is your favorite marketplace author, and why do you like them?
What do you do in your spare time?
I'll probably be listening to loud music, playing guitar, writing - be it a short story, screenplay or the start of a novel - or checking out new bands or new movies or new books. I enjoy hanging out with friends, trying new beers (or just gulping down a favorite) and scotch whiskey, traveling and seeing new things, and getting tattooed. :)