Paul Weingartz started out studying web design and DTP, and working at a small web company in 2001. His studies gave him a good starting point in the industry and opened a few doors with regards to employment. He had always been interested in code as well as design and spent a lot of my free time researching web standards and CSS. This resulted in Paul being self-taught in many of the skills he excels in today. He proclaims to impose his passions wherever he goes. Paul also helped World Wide Creative to establish a good balance with regards to the process of design and code. These days he keeps himself busy by freelancing and singing the praises of WordPress as a CMS and continues to grow in his field of hand crafting beautiful CSS.
Hi Paul. You often refer to ‘hand crafted’ Cascading Style Sheets. Can you explain to us what ‘handcrafted’ CSS is?
Hand crafted CSS is more a concept than an actual thing. It starts with good design and layout and then good usability. These concepts are then transformed from a static design into dynamic and scalable CSS by using best practices and tailor made code for a specific site. Basically when I refer to hand crafted CSS, I am referring to the process that I take to transform a designer’s vision into a thoughtful CSS template that respects the carefully thought out designs, each curly bracket meticulously placed, each vendor prefix typed in manually.
Is there a strong demand for CSS professionals in South Africa? What is the job market like for people studying CSS?
I can’t say with any certainty what the current demand is for CSS professionals. I can however say that studying CSS is not enough. I don’t know what is currently being taught in the classrooms but I know that trends and technologies change and evolve on an almost daily basis. If you are interested in becoming a superhero CSS smasher then you have to get yourself online and start reading advice and best practices from the leaders like Dan Cederholm, Ethan Marcotte Jonathan Snook and Harry Roberts. I would also urge newcomers to the CSS field to expand their skills and not just focus on writing proper CSS. Hand crafting beautiful CSS is a combination of creativity and coding. It’s neither exclusively one or the other and requires you to think creatively as well as semantically.
What are some practical tips for those wanting to freelance in the digital industry?
If you wish to become a freelancer I would firstly recommend that you spend at least two to three years working in a digital agency doing what you love and what you are good at. I think most learning comes from work experience and even though I freelance today, I could never have gotten to this point without working in the industry first. Secondly you should know that freelancing requires a lot of work and is not a holiday. Period. Honestly, some days I long for my nine to five. I also highly recommend speaking to a friend who freelances. Any field will suffice because the same issues arise for all freelancers. If you don’t have one you can hit me up on twitter with some questions.
Talk to us about your company and your latest entrepreneurial ventures?
I operate under the banner of Guntribe. I wouldn’t call it a company since it’s mainly myself. I do however have a network of freelancers that I collaborate with. We provide custom WordPress solutions as a core offering but I also do Tumblr and Posterous themes and customizations as well as a lot of social media setups like custom Facebook pages and Twitter branding. I also consult with a PR company as a preferred digital partner. My wide skillset allows me to offer advice and tailor solutions for unique problems that clients face. Out-the-box solutions are not an option for the Guntribe Crew!
My latest venture is partnering up with the guys from Woothemes to head up their BuddyPress theme development. The relationship is still young but we have already launched Canvas for BuddyPress, a child theme for the Canvas framework.
Who do you admire in your field and what is it they do that inspires you?
Adii from Woothemes. I have followed his career closely from the days that he himself was just a freelancer and his drive and passion for business has built a WordPress empire in only a few short years. I recently grabbed at an opportunity to collaborate with Adii and the GTD ethic that comes from the Woo Crowd is absolutely infectious.
I also have a lot of respect for Harry Roberts from CSS Wizardry since he is a thought leader in the field of CSS and I respect his opinion above all others when it comes to best practices in CSS.
Dan Cederholm from Simple Bits is a published author, designer and CSS genius. I love everything that Dan does over at Simple Bits. Enough said, lots of man love here.
Basically everyone involved with the A Book Apart project. I think this is a great resource for every web designer, vet and n00b alike.
Can you give us some examples of great CSS design?
There are an endless supply of CSS galleries out there and they focus more on design than CSS code in my opinion. When it comes down to nuts and bolts CSS code, I would have to say that inuit.css by Harry Roberts is one of the best pieces of code that I have ever come across. The thought and execution behind the code is flawless and I immediately understood and used the framework without skipping a beat. It instantly made me more productive, something that many claim but few can deliver on. Trust me, I have tried many CSS frameworks and even developed my own out of necessity, but inuit.css is a masterpiece that is constantly evolving.
For the less code savvy bunch, I would have to say that some beautiful examples of CSS can be seen at Analog. This site was created by some very talented people who also belong on my heroes list from before. The site has some nifty hidden easter eggs, see if you can find them.
- Brand new look for World Wide Creative’s ‘Heavy Chef’ blog
- The first Heavy Chef “Creating Profitable Websites” Course starts
- Fresh new design for The Heavy Chef Project website
- Heavy Chef July 2011: Nikki Cockcroft talks about New Media Ecosystems
- Heavy Chef Video: Rich Mulholland talks about Anti-Social Networks