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What’s the best site you've seen lately? What’s so great about it? Right now I’m all about Depthcore, which has recently been redesigned to display not only bleeding-edge digital art, but tutorials, interviews and other insights.

If you were to change professions, what would you choose to do? I would pursue digital art full time. Right now it’s a hobby, but if I wasn’t in advertising I would devote all my time to it.

From where do your best ideas originate? There are a lot of factors, I usually ping ideas off other creatives, browse inspiration sites and spend my free time making code experiments that I can later adopt into functionality for future projects. A clear mind is key, and occasionally a long car ride will spur some new ideas I can start to explore too.

How do you overcome a creative block? A trip to Chipotle and lunch by the water here in Baltimore will usually clear my mind enough to approach a problem from a new perspective. I always feel like creative blocks are the result of repeating the same creative process too many times; it helps to go down a new path every once in awhile (with a burrito).

In one word describe how you feel when beginning a new project. Penguins.

What well-known site is most desperately in need of a redesign? As much as I love it, Reddit. Of course, that doesn’t mean it should go the route of Digg’s redesign, which was a catastrophe.

Do you have creative outlets other than Web design? Yes, I am an avid digital abstract artist. Art is how I was introduced to Flash and Photoshop and it’s what compelled me to learn 3-D modeling, animation and design. I’ve also been getting into bonsai lately, which is actually quite challenging, not only to craft a striking design, but to keep a tree alive long enough to have it grow.

What music are you listening to right now? Trentemøller. It’s so empty, dark and evil. I love it.

What’s the strangest thing you've bought online? This is a great question for me. I just bought a gun that shoots smoke rings, a $60 bonsai tree and ten professional wrestling posters.

What’s your favorite quote? “I pretty much use sketchbooks to note down great ideas of somebody else’s I’ve just had. A good sketchbook means you don’t actually need to bother with having a memory yourself. You can get away with a fair bit of substance abuse if you always carry a notepad and a sharp pencil around with you.” —Banksy

Do you have any advice for people just entering the profession? A great portfolio is key. When I started, I would spend weeks designing a Web site for myself only to throw it away because I got a better idea during the process.

What’s one thing you wish you knew when you started your career? Having a great idea is one thing, but being able to thoroughly explain it is another, nearly as important, skill.
A Baltimore native, James Merrill is a Flash developer at Planit Advertising and a digital artist. His portfolio includes Under Armour, FILA, Marriott, Marilyn Manson, USDA, RIF, American Red Cross and other international clients.
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