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A Quick Chat With Val Head

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Val Head (event organiser, book author, CSS animation meister) will be taking to the stage in November to speak at FOWD New York City. I recently spent ten minutes chatting with her to find out what people can expect from her presentation.

Hi Val, thanks for taking the time to chat with us! Tell us about your talk at FOWD NYC, what can people expect?

Expect a high-energy walkthrough of best practices for animating interfaces, at least one terrible joke, and a few cats. (It wouldn’t be FOWD if I don’t have a cat in there! )

More specifically, I’ll be showing ways UI animation can support UX and help us design more engaging experiences. I'll be breaking down lots of examples and discussing how designing animation can fit into our design process.

Check out the rest of the FOWD NYC 2014 schedule

Given you like playing with CSS animation so much, is it fair to say that Codepen has become your new Dribbble?

I tend to put a lot of my workshop material and talk demos CodePen. It's such a great tool for that! Student can grab the starter files and start animating in seconds.

So it’s mostly full of starter files and quick demos for my classes but I do find time to put up fun little experiments  from time to time. This reminds me, I don’t take the time to post what I'm working on nearly enough, either on Dribbble or CodePen. I should really fix that!

How did you first get so interested in animation?

I first got started when I took a random Flash animation workshop in University. Animation sounded fun, and it was a great introduction to it.

A few weeks into the class they showed us how you could write code (ActionScript) to control interaction and animation outside of drawing keyframes. That totally blew my mind. I had no idea you could do anything that cool with programming. I was hooked!

Take a look at the book..

Tell us briefly about Web Design Day..

Web Design Day is a conference we’ve been running in Pittsburgh for five years running. It’s a friendly one-day conference for Web Designers and Developers who love what they do. We gather up 300 or so of the nicest web folks around to talk shop, do some screen printing, and just generally have a great time. The next one is coming up in June 2015 and it’s going to be amazing.

With organising and speaking at events, plus writing books and for blogs, do you ever find it difficult to actually practice web design?!

It can get pretty crazy! Luckily I have a lot of energy and I really love doing all of it. Lately I've been keeping it to one client project at a time to keep things in a good balance. That leaves room for events, teaching workshops, speaking, writing, and even fitting in some fun collaborations. (Like this one turning a conference audience into a band with my friend Seb.)

I’ve also managed to get good at working on while traveling which helps a lot. The trick is to find projects and people you really enjoy working with. (The other trick is drinking a lot of good coffee.) 

Lastly, give us your top three (less obvious) Twitter folk to follow.

  • Jessica Caldwell (@Sunfeet22/@machineapparel)
    Jessica is an ex web developer who is starting her own fashion line. I love hearing about everything she’s doing to get her line going.

  • Micha Scott (@scanlime)
    Micha is an artist who makes really amazing light sculptures and other things with LEDs.

  • The p5.js Project (@p5xjs)
    This project is bringing the core ideas of Processing to Javascript. I’m psyched to see it finally come to the web like this!

Thanks Val!

You can catch Val at FOWD NYC 2014, on day 1 (Tuesday 4th November) where she’ll be talking about designing animation awesomeness. If you can’t make it to NYC, keep an eye out for videos and slides afterwards!

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