I’m Andy Clarke. I believe in the power of ideas and how a creative approach to business can delight and motivate customers, and allow businesses to grow.
Andy Clarke portrait by Al Power
“Andy Clarke is a seasoned brand steward, a fancy pixel wrangler, and no mean hand at code. A triple talent. The bastard.”— Jeffrey Zeldman
Author of Designing with Web Standards
Growing up, art helped me escape the day-to-day into a place I felt happy and in control. Making art became my sanctuary, and there was no other path I wanted to take.
I learned plenty of important lessons at art school. Not least, the fact I was interested more in the process of making art than anything I needed to communicate. So, I spent my four years working in the printmaking studio and photography darkroom, experimenting with processes, techniques, and tools. I work with my digital tools in the same way today.
The course I studied was unstructured. I could move between media, and there was as much or as little input from lecturers as I wanted. This taught me to be self-motivated and self-reliant, which has proven to be the most important lesson of my life.
Leaving art school was a shock to my system because, for the first time, there was no clear path ahead of me.
I found myself first working in an unglamorous photographic studio, then drifted into photography equipment sales. I’d no previous experience, but I had a natural affinity for sales.
Although I never enjoyed the pressure of meeting sales targets, this decade-long experience taught me that if you believe in something strongly, you can persuade others to believe it too.
It’s been twenty-five years since I sold a product, and today I sell my ideas, experience, and talent. I couldn’t do that had I not learned self-motivation at art school or gained self-confidence during the years I spent selling.
The most valuable lesson—the one I passed onto my son—was to be adaptable because the path through life will rarely be straight. I made mistakes and took wrong turns, but today I’m the sum of my experiences, and I hope a better designer and teacher because of them.
When we moved to Wales in 1998, I knew I wanted to design, and that digital was the right medium, but I’d not designed websites professionally, nor run a business. My work was in its early stages, but luckily so was the Web.
We made websites costing a few hundred pounds for local businesses who barely knew about the Web. But, we made enough of a living to concentrate on design full-time a year later. I learned something new with each project.
After a chance encounter with web standards technologies, I taught myself how to write CSS. At the time, websites were developed using table-based code, and there were few resources for learning CSS. I learned by trial-and-error, pasting code from specifications and seeing the result in a browser. I was one of very few designers experimenting with CSS, and when I launched my blog in 2004, I quickly gained an audience who were also eager to learn.
Blogging lead to speaking at the first European web design conferences. This, in turn, lead to offers to write a book. Transcending CSS was published in 2005, Hardboiled Web Design five years later, and Art Direction for the Web in 2019.
It’s been over 20 years since we began working as Stuff & Nonsense and I couldn’t have imagined back then that my work would take me around the world from Africa to the Far East, across Europe and the United States. It’s been hard work, often punctuated with periods of uncertainty. There have been difficult times—both personally and professionally—but working as a designer on the Web has given me a lifestyle I enjoy and a body of work I can be proud of.
Committed to working with Nozomi Networks for another year. Worked with the Congo Basin Institute, Le Fizz, and NWPS Construction.
Spent ten months mostly working at home with Nozomi Networks. Worked with Buskers Bern and Compass Financial. Spent time in the south of France. Began work on my sixth full-length book.
Increased the time I spend working with Nozomi Networks. Worked with Animal Search and So Foot. Published Transcending CSS Revisited. Bought my first Subaru and spent time driving Scotland’s North Coast 500. Celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. Spent time in Cameroon and the south of France. Visited Berlin and Duisburg.
Returned to Wales from Australia. Published Art Direction for the Web. Accepted the role of Director of Product Design at Nozomi Networks. Celebrated my son’s doctorate. Spent time in Florence and visited Singapore.
Lived in Sydney, Australia working with Ansarada. Travelled to Melbourne, Perth, and Tasmania. Visited Saigon and San Francisco. Collected my first two tattoos.
Worked with Greenpeace Poland, Smashing Magazine, and SunLife. Spent time in Perth and Sydney, Australia. Consulted with Fairfax Media and Ansarada. Accepted the role of Head of Design at Ansarada, so closed our studio in Abergele. Visited Zurich.
Worked with Kings College Hospital and WWF UK. Published Hardboiled Web Design: Fifth Anniversary Edition. Spent time in Western Australia and the south of France. Visited Barcelona, Los Angeles, New York, and Sydney.
Opened our studio in Abergele, Wales. Spent time in the southern USA and the south of France. Visited Amsterdam, Atlanta, Barcelona, Berlin, and Oslo. Celebrated my son’s Masters degree.
Worked with SAP in Heidelberg and WIPO in Geneva. Collaborated with Mark Porter on designs for Internazionale. Spent time in Japan, and the south of France. Visited Oslo. Hired our first full-time employee.
Worked with WIPO in Geneva and Accenture on the government’s Universal Credit scheme. Spent time in Western Australia and the south of France. Visited Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney. Travelled to Germany and Texas.
Worked at STV in Glasgow as their part-time Head of Design. Worked with ISO Geneva. Visited Atlanta, Boston, Seattle, San Francisco, and Washinton DC.
Published Hardboiled Web Design. Visited Boston, Seattle, San Diego, and Washinton DC. Drove 4,000 miles around the north western USA on our Looking for Yogi road trip.
Worked with New Internationist Magazine. Recorded three DVD video titles for New Riders. Visited Boston, Chicago, and Tokyo.
Released CSS Artistry: A Web Design Master Class. Recorded Inspired CSS Styling for a Beautiful Web DVD video for New Riders. Worked with Camel Dive Club. Spent time in Eqypt. Visited Amsterdam, Chicago, New Orleans, and New York. Drove 4,000 miles across the USA on our Between Two Oceans road trip.
Contributed a chapter to Web Standards Creativity. Visited Austin, San Francisco, Sydney, and Vancouver.
Visited Austin, New York, Reykjavik, Sydney, and Vancouver.
Sold my stake in Karova and restarted Stuff & Nonsense. Wrote and published Transcending CSS.
Started blogging and developed a reputation for designing with web standards technologies. Designed e-commerce websites for British Heart Foundation, Save The Children, and WWF UK.
Co-founded Karova and helped develop the first standards-based e-commerce platform. Designed the first standards-based e-commerce website for Disneystore UK. Put Stuff & Nonsense on hold.
Started working on Stuff & Nonsense full-time, the first time I’d been self-employed. Our first major client was Allen Group.
Left TMS Advertising. Moved to Wales and co-founded Stuff & Nonsense with my wife. Worked remotely for Dicomed Inc. and Silicon Imaging (again.) My first personal website won Site of the Month in .Net Magazine’s September issue.
Left Silicon Imaging and joined TMS Advertising to run their digital creative studio. Made my first professional website.
Left The Studio Workshop and joined Silicon Imaging to sell the first digital cameras. Sold more digital camera backs than anyone else in Europe.
My son Alex was born. Discovered I have another younger brother. Shot the first digital photograph in the UK with a Leaf DCB (digital camera back) at the Business Design Center in London.
Married Sue! We’ve been together ever since. Left South Bank Studio Center and joined The Studio Workshop.
Graduated art school with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art. Moved from Nottingham to London. Started work at South Bank Studio Center.
Met my wife, Sue. I was asleep under a table and she woke me up.
Studied Fine Art at Trent Polytechnic, Nottingham. Worked in bars and comic shops to pay my way.
Studied Art Foundation at Nene College, Northampton.
Finished education at Kingswood School, Corby.
Born in Lancashire in the north of England.
Answers: (1) Steve McQueen. (2) Gone With The Wind. (3) Motörhead. (4) If Want Blood, You Got It. (5) Asterix The Gaul. (6) Miss Congeniality.