Member of the Month for February 2009

Member of the Month for February 2009

Lost in the 2014 vBulletin - Discourse transition but retrieved 2021 by @ronpat from an old backup.

#1 - Mar 2, 2009, 17:31 - akritic

This month, we are very pleased to recognise one of our long-standing members, Kohoutek, as Member of the Month for February 2009!

For this month, we’re going to dispense with the usual questions and dig in right away, as this outstanding member has been interviewed previously for the community crier.

Hi Maleika, congratulations on being Member of the Month!

Hello Andy. I must say, I’m extremely surprised and all the more honoured to be receiving this accolade. The news has made my day a fantastic one!

So tell us about your screen name Kohoutek - that’s the name of a comet, correct? Did you intentionally choose that name because you’re interested in astronomy or is there perhaps another interesting story you can tell us?

Nice of you to ask where my name derives from. It’s a fairly long story, but I’ll make it short. The comet was first spotted in the early 70s in the Hamburg Observatorium (Germany) which also happens to be the city of my birth. It was my grandfather, a renown astronomer, mostly known for his theory, that in 2076, when Comet Kohoutek would emerge from the ether of the atmosphere and blind us all, women and men alike would wear nothing but plaid pants.

In truth, however, the story is much simpler. My best friend - with whom I used to run an Alternative Rock forum for six years gave that name to me. There’s no meaning behind it except for the fact that Kohoutek is also the name of a song by R.E.M. and it was her favourite.

Can you give us a brief history into your infatuation with the web and design? Where did you start and what paths did you walk on to get to where you are today?

Infatuation is the word indeed. I’ve always had a soft spot for art and architecture. I’ve drawn stories in sketch form eversince I was three years old, so - being 32 years of age now - my love for drawing, sketching and generally creating stuff goes back quite a long way. However, I’ve never taken art classes in my life. The reason behind it is that in my family we had the doctrine that only being an academic was of true intellectual value. You’re either an academic or you’re nothing. This is ridiculous, obviously. However, I fell into that trap and thus enrolled to University with the ambition of becoming a philosopher, philologist, and linguist. However, my heart wasn’t there.

Then came the internet which I discovered in 2000. I started out by creating a forum for my favourite band’s music. The process of doing a design for the forum software was so intriguing for me, that I knew this was what I wanted to do on a larger scale and not restricted to relatively inflexible apps such as forum apps where a lot of the structure is set into stone. From then on it all was about learning. I bought a dozen books on a variety of subjects, such as colour theory, typography, grid systems, books on web usability, CSS & HTML books, Photoshop and Illustrator books, software, and dived into the world of design. So, it was certainly not a straight lined path I’d chosen. And it took me quite a while to accept that designing in itself is a meaningful profession with quite indepth and complex doctrines that are diverse and often quite complicated. I’m hoping to master at least some areas in the field of design. I’m working on it.

You’ve got an awesome portfolio, and your design sense is professional, yet relaxed and fun. How do you work to achieve your visions for a site design? What are your processes?

Why, thank you! I’m in the process of re-designing it. The process of coming up with visual ideas on how I think a website should be designed always depends on how much I know on any given subject. If the company I’m to design for sells coffee, as an example, I’ll immediately associate it with a set of colours, atmosphere, language, general appeal, and also draw information from things such as TV ads on the subject, magazine ads, and other internet sites related to that subject. In some cases, reading up on the history of a given subject also gives good inspiration. These thoughts are always coupled with the ambition of wanting to be better than everyone else in my field. This, of course, is utterly unrealistic and delusional and I have an unimaginably long way to go. But I’m an extremely ambitious person, so I do try to do things perfectly, eventhough I’m painfully aware of the fact that perfection is an abstract and therefore nothing a human being could ever reach. I’d like to think that it’s a designer’s prerogative - like for every other profession - to not stand still and trying to transcend and not err on the side of the present. In a way, it’s not much different to the approach of some architects like e.g. Walter Gropius who invented the Bauhaus school of thought, an approach to form and function that many designers admire and put to use today, nearly a Century later. That’s what I’m aiming to be able to do in around 20 years from now. So that’s another source I get inspiration from that helps me in the process of coming up with ideas on how to optimally synergize form and function.

Typefaces! All designers obsess over them, and I’m sure you have some ones which are favorites? What about those famous ones Helvetica, Futura, Univers and Frutiger - are you a fan? Also, do you see a lot of room in web design for modern and interesting typefaces?

Yes! All of the typefaces you’ve mentioned are beyond fantastic Sans typefaces. You can’t go anywhere around here without bumping into Helvetica at least a hundred times in a single day. Our Metro stations, trains, and busses are full of it.

As for my favourite, it’s hard to say because they change as often as I change my socks. Currently, I’d say that Cezanne, Anziano, Montrachet, and Delicato are among my favourites at the moment.

You have your own design studio,, what was the reasoning behind re-branding from your previous DotKraft site?

Actually, dotkraft isn’t dead. I have plans for the brand. For a few years, dotkraft was my online reference, not much more. For my long-term plans, the name felt too stale, too inflexible, so I came up with Rockatee. A name without meaning but one that has a more sonorous ring to it.

Any tips for freelancers who want to grow their business? What have you staked your reputation on and how has that helped your business?

I’m certainly the wrong person to be giving tips. On the contrary. I’m constantly looking for tips from other designers, people who have advanced far more than I have. The only thing I’ve done is work and learn. And I am trying to work harder and learn more with each day that passes by. I think curiosity, passion, the acknowledgment that one knows next to nothing, the will to learn, to strive and to work hard, is what has helped me.

As designer and developer, what are the tools you frequently use for your trade? Anything you’ve found that you absolutely love and cannot do without?

Of course I am dependent on the obvious tools such as Photoshop and Illustrator for the visual design part. For web development, I use Textmate (I’m on a Mac), Transmit for my FTP needs, Fireworks for wireframing, so all very common and mainstream applications, nothing out of the ordinary really. Recently, however, I’ve been checking out a new tool called LittleSnapper. It is a software application that allows you take screenshots from websites, has an inbuilt browser, and gives you the ability to write notes and place them accordingly on your screenshot for future reference. Basically, it gives you a visual reference library in a very organized form. Something that I think might prove invaluable for people like me who constantly browse and inspect sites on the net, taking notes of certain aspects of a site. A memory crutch, if you will.

Where do you find yourself browsing on SitePoint forums? Where do you pick up great tips that help you the most?

Oh, this easy to answer. I admit that I read at least an hour or more a day on SP, but I’m on the forums (scanning) during my work time, so quite a few hours a day. Being a designer, of course the HTML, CSS, Javascript, usability/accessibility, and graphic related forums are my favourite hang-outs. But I’m currently learning PHP and Ruby, so the programming forums are also of extreme interest to me right now.

The abundance of rich and smart information as well as debates on a variety of subjects is fascinating to me. You have no idea how much I benefit from just reading what others write.
Overall I can say I’m having a blast being spoilt by so much curiosity-inducing wisdom that is spread within the community. I love it.

Excelent! Now for the fun questions…

What’s your most cherished memory from Childhood?

Wow. That is a difficult question. Hmmm. Let me think. I guess one of my fondest memories is seeing the pride in my parents when I won the international Benson & Hedges WTA Tennis tournament which was my entrance and the beginning of my professional Tennis career which I quit in my early teens.

What gets your hackles up about the web design industry? Browser wars, bad typography? Anything?

Actually, nothing really annoys me in the design industry. I’m not into browser wars. I’m not anti IE, though it certainly isn’t a browser I use and I, too, get a heavy headache every now and then when having to give IE special treatment. I think it’s great that we have so many OS choices, browser choices, language choices, and so on. With that said, I’m pretty content with where the design industry seems to be heading.

What is your idea of a perfect day?

A really really perfect day you mean? Yah, well, I’d say a perfect day for me would be to start off the day with a game of Tennis, then having a good breakfast, learn 3 hours, work 5 hours. In the evening, I’d sit on my terrace with a P.G. Wodehouse book, a big glass of Pepsi on ice and occasionally observe the happenings around me. Before sleep, I’d write a few paragraphs for a novel I’m working on, then finish off the day by watching 45 minutes of either A Bit of Fry and Laurie, Blackadder, Jeeves & Wooster, or House M.D., or a good documentary on history and call it a perfect day.

And with that I’d like to say thanks and congratulations on being Member of the Month for February 2009!

And I thank you even more!

#2 - Mar 2, 2009, 17:49 - Dark Tranquility

Congrats Maleika! Long due and really well deserved!
Nice interview Andy!

#3 - Mar 2, 2009, 18:08 - Paul O’B

Congratulations Maleika well deserved and a good interview also.

#4 - Mar 2, 2009, 19:07 - Datura

Fabulous interview from Maleika and Andy. I am so glad you got this recognition Maleika, what a wonderfully interesting person you are.

#5 - Mar 2, 2009, 20:29 - RetroNetro

Congrats, indeed!

# 6- Mar 3, 2009, 01:38 - AutisticCuckoo

Congratulations, Maleika!

Great interview, too.

#7 - Mar 3, 2009, 02:42 - Sarah

congratulations Kohoutek and you now have the badge to prove it

#8 - Mar 3, 2009, 04:28 - spikeZ

Great interview, great questions and a great member - well done and very well deserved.

#9 - Mar 3, 2009, 05:03 - molona

Congratulations. Great interview.

#10 - Mar 3, 2009, 07:20 - Nadia P

Congratulations Maleika !
Great interview Andy

#11 - Mar 3, 2009, 07:54 - RyanReese


#12 - Mar 3, 2009, 11:15 - kohoutek

Thank you everyone!

squints to the left to see what her badge looks like

#13 - Mar 3, 2009, 11:23 - SoulScratch

Looks good, congrats and enjoy the month

squints to the left to see the area where his badge used to be

#14 - Mar 3, 2009, 11:26 - akritic

Quote Originally Posted by kohoutek:
Thank you everyone!

squints to the left to see what her badge looks like

Don’t forget to take a screen-grab

Quote Originally Posted by SoulScratch:
Looks good, congrats and enjoy the month

squints to the left to see the area where his badge used to be

I hope you remembered to take a screen-grab

#15 - Mar 3, 2009, 11:44 - SoulScratch

I didn’t actually, but I could replicate the view by throwing that image back in the table cell via Firebug.

#16 - Mar 3, 2009, 11:49 - kohoutek

I’m sorry to have stripped you bare, SoulScratch. I’ll definitely make up for it by wearing it for just 27 days.

#17 - Mar 3, 2009, 13:15 - RyanReese

Yea your getting cheated.

#18 - Mar 3, 2009, 13:21 - akritic

I obsessively create screen shots of my little box on the left… I dunno why, but it all started when I got MOTM. It’s like a trip down memory lane now when I look at them.

#19 - Mar 3, 2009, 13:44 - RyanReese

Off Topic:

When did you get MOTM Andy?

#20 - Mar 3, 2009, 13:52 - akritic

Off Topic:

Dec’ 07

#21 - Mar 3, 2009, 14:32 - php_daemon

Congrats, brown-eyed girl, very much deserved And a very nice interview too.

#22 - Mar 3, 2009, 15:15 - linkin99

Congrats Maleika!

#23 - Mar 3, 2009, 17:10 - kohoutek

Danke, danke.

Ryan, that’s because the month of February only had 28 days, and the staff is in Australia, so technically, I get 28 days. That’s the only valid theory.

Originally Posted by RyanReese:
Yea your getting cheated.

#24 - Mar 3, 2009, 18:45 - Raffles

Very nice interview. Congratulations on the award and a good taste in humour!

#25 - Mar 4, 2009, 13:32 - Varelse

Congratulations Maleika. So well deserved!

#26 - Mar 30, 2009, 03:43 - ZIGO

Congratulations … Very nice interview…

#27 - Mar 30, 2009, 11:57 - World Wide Weird

“Kohoutek” was the name of a Journey song many years before R.E.M. came along.

#28 - Apr 1, 2009, 11:26 - RyanReese

Soooo any bets on next MOTM? I’m guessing Centauri.

#29 - Apr 1, 2009, 13:13 - SoulScratch

Centauri can’t be next MOTM because he was already MOTM in November 07.

#30 - Apr 3, 2009, 11:36 - RyanReese

I wouldn’t know that …got a link to his interview Soul?

#31 - Apr 3, 2009, 11:50 - php_daemon

Here you go:

There are all of the interviews ever done since 2003 still under News and Announcements if you’re interested. Look through the previous pages, there aren’t many post so it’s easy to find. There are such gems as the interviews with Rudy, Paul, Tommy, etc.

#32 - Apr 3, 2009, 20:17 - RyanReese

God…takes no time ? Took me 3 hours lol . All 11/16 done. After that I didn’t recognize any members of hte month. Sounds like lo0ol was great…

#33 - Apr 9, 2009, 23:28 - ConnorIsaac

Good job done! congrats buddy.